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In another meta question kiamlaluno pointed out some statistics stating that there are over 2100 unanswered questions - a full 20%. This seems a bit astonishing and high for a site specializing in Drupal questions. When I selected the unanswered questions button, I immediately noticed that most of the questions actually have answers. Does this statistic apply to questions with unaccepted answers? If so, it may be misleading. We get a fair share of transient visitors here who do not participate in the checks and arrows scoring. IN fact, do we have a process for collectively accepting good answers, pruning, and/or consolidating old questions that may require attention?

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On Stack Exchange, unanswered (as used on the unanswered tab) is a term used to mean:

  • questions without an accepted answer
  • questions where none of the answer has a score higher than zero

That was the faster way to get data about answered questions (provided I explained what unanswered meant in that context). It is also possible to get the number of questions that don't have any answer, but also in that case the number is not exact, as the closed question should be excluded. The problem is that is not possible to get the exact number of not closed questions because in that case Stack Exchange reports there are more than 5,000 not closed questions, and comparing that number with 1,535 (the actual number of not closed questions that don't have any answer) is not that easy.

IN fact, do we have a process for collectively accepting good answers, pruning, and/or consolidating old questions that may require attention?

The process for collectively accepting good answers already exists, and it's called voting. At the actual state, Stack Exchange don't have a way for accepting an answer in questions where the OP didn't accept any answer, and the reason is simply that accepting an answer is only possible for the user who asked the question, and selects the answer that helped the user more than others; it's quite subjective, and what the OP accepts could also be the worst question (I have seen accepted answers with a negative score, which means the community found the answer not to be useful, or utterly wrong.)
If by consolidating you mean combining more questions into a single one, then that is not a process that is normally done on Stack Exchange. The reasons are simply two:

  • If the single questions didn't get any attention, a single question that combine those questions would not get any attention the same.
  • It is preferable to have separated questions, than a single question that asks unrelated or few related questions.

What the community can do for questions that don't have any answer is:

  • Answer them, if it is possible to give a useful answer. If the answer is simply "No, what you are trying to achieve is not possible." the answer is not that much useful.
  • Close those questions that should be closed. If a question asks something that is only relevant for the OP, such as the case of a question where the error is caused by a typo in the code, then those questions can be closed as too localized; if the question is off-topic because it is not a question about Drupal (e.g. the answer doesn't change if the user would use WordPress), then it can be closed as off-topic.
  • If there are questions that don't have an answer, a bounty could be offered; in this way, the question get more attention, and possibly an answer. The OP could not accept it, but the question would have an answer, and future readers could read it.
  • thanks kiamlaluno. – Ashlar Apr 1 '12 at 23:44
  • @kiamlaluno What would be the course of action if say the OP has figured out an answer for themselves and added it as a comment rather than an answer and then gone AWOL? For example this question has been answered in a comment, and no effort appears to have been made to convert said comment into and answer and close the question off. – Chapabu Apr 3 '12 at 22:05
  • @Chapabu I have just added a new FAQ question: What should I do when an answer has been added as comment? – kiamlaluno Apr 3 '12 at 22:32
  • Good stuff! Thanks @kiamlaluno – Chapabu Apr 3 '12 at 22:33

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