I just joined MathSE and it's beautiful here, except for the fact that some unregistered users ask a question and never come back. Most of the time these questions are trivial, though they still consume answerers' (valuable) time which never gets rewarded. I thought it was okay until I saw someone's profile with the following statistics: active $1$ year $7$ Months, $0$ Answers , $72$ Questions, $0$ accept votes. Yes, I agree that the answers are up-voted in this case but is it really okay to never accept any answers?
No, it's not OK to post 72 questions, get useful answers, and not accept any of them. I would hope some moderator would take this user aside and explain a few things about how this site works best.
It is okay to not accept any answers if they haven't really clarified what you were trying to solve. You're under no obligation to give people participation points. If the answers lead you to understanding the problem, you should always accept. In this particular case I think the fact that they have asked 72 questions implies they have gotten useful answers or else why would they come back, and thus he should be accepting more answers. I suggest you send him a message
Regardless of the gratitude argument, accepting answers makes the sites questions easier to sift through. When there are questions that don't have accepted answers, people are more inclined to use their time to peruse the question and answers. If then they have wasted their time due to there being one or more perfectly acceptable answers, that is a loss to the site. That user could have been reading over another question which needed attention. Therefore, more users get to more questions and hopefully add helpful answers.
Of course there are question with answer that some people will be interested in reading even with or without accepted answers, but I am not speaking of those question that speak to someone's interest or speciality since they aren't wasting their time in that sense.
I think this question can be interpreted in two ways.
Is it morally acceptable/ethical/polite/whatever to rarely accept answers?
The other is
Do the rules allow people to rarely accept answers?
The answer to the second question is 'yes, people are not forced to accept answers' and moderators shouldn't be able -with the current rules - to punish them if they choose not to accept answers.
My answer to the first question is 'no, it's not acceptable'. Surely when the number of answered questions isn't small, there must be some instances in which the asker can pinpoint an answer which helped him more than all others. The acceptance feature exists precisely for this occasions. Users aren't obligated to accept. You're not obligated to thank someone who holds the door for you either, but you most likely do.
After you ask a question here, if you get an acceptable answer, you should "accept" the answer by clicking the check mark ✓ next to it. This scores points for you and for the person who answered your question. You can find out more about accepting answers here: How do I accept an answer?, Why should we accept answers?.
I choose not to use it because of the word 'should' which may be perceived as entailing rule-wise obligation, which isn't the case.
Instead I use the following which simply forwards the reader to informative aspects of answer acceptance. (I frequently replace the first sentence with "I see you're a new user", when it is appropriate).
You have a low answer-acceptance rate. Please read about accepting answers [here](https://math.stackexchange.com/help/accepted-answer) and [here](https://meta.stackoverflow.com/questions/5234/how-does-accepting-an-answer-work/5235#5235).
The reader can then decide for himself whether to accept answers or not and similarly I can then decide whether to hold back answers or not. In the past I've rewarded users who, after being told about answer acceptance, accepted answers to their previous questions, by giving a full answer.
I would even like to see the answer acceptance rate back and restrictions imposed on users who have a low acceptance rate. Those rare cases of users who genuinely can't choose what answers to accept in a large number of questions, for whatever reason, can be dealt with (I mean forgiven by) the moderators.
Seventy-two questions without any accepted answers? Guess I'm not answering any of your questions....
Being serious, accepting answers shows gratitude for the answerer that helped the person asking the question the most. If people don't accept answers, the answerers may be discouraged from answering because they think that their efforts will be for naught. They do not have any sign that the person asking the question has even read their answers. Accepting answers essentially tells answerers, "I have read your answer, and I have found it to be the most useful. Thank you for your answer."
I also hope that you have been upvoting/downvoting as well, as this also provides feedback for answerers.
No, it's not okay, except under very special circumstances.
These are the special circumstances I can think of, in rough order of likelihood:
- You ask a lot of questions but get no answers at all to any of them.
- You ask a lot of questions but get only one answer on each question. The one answer gets more than two upvotes each time, so you're not worried about giving the extra 15 points, plus you worry someone might come along with a better answer and you'd look rude if you unaccepted the answer you originally accepted.
- You ask a lot of questions and get more than one answer but all the answers casually invoke advanced and/or esoteric concepts beyond your comprehension.
- You get locked out of your account (e.g., forget the password) before you've had chance to think about which answer is best.
I seriously doubt any of these apply to the fellow who's asked more than 70 questions in the past few months.
Yes, it is okay to not accept answers. Acceptance is a form of vote: this site has upvotes, downvotes, accept-votes, close-votes, delete-votes, etc (availability depends on reputation). Some users choose to not use some or all of categories of votes: e.g., never downvote, or never accept, or never vote at all. They are free to do so.