I recently posted this question.

I received an answer but I still don't fully understand the answer and I'm still working through it. I thanked the answerer as soon as I saw the answer but at the time, since I hadn't read or understood it, I did not upvote or accept.

Two hours later the answerer replied saying that thanking on this website is in the form of upvoting and accepting. So I upvoted his answer. But since I still don't fully understand it I am somewhat reluctant to also accept it.

This is the background information about why I now want to ask a question:

What is the allowable time period after receiving an answer until upvoting it and accepting it?


Should I generally accept and upvote as soon as I receive an answer? (even if I don't understand it?)

  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Related: Length of time to wait before accepting an answer $\endgroup$ Oct 24, 2015 at 3:13
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ When I leave a comment of this kind, it's not meant to be "I'm dying for my answer to be upvoted and accepted" as much as "stop bugging me with pointless comments". $\endgroup$
    – user147263
    Oct 24, 2015 at 3:16
  • 3
    $\begingroup$ I wouldn't consider vorbrand's comment as a request for you to upvote and/or accept right away; it's just a gentle nudge to remind you to do so when you have finished digesting the answer (assuming you find it satisfactory). $\endgroup$ Oct 24, 2015 at 5:07
  • 4
    $\begingroup$ I do not think that it would be a good service to the community to accept an answer where something is stated that the answerer refuses to explain. Other readers of the site could have the same difficulties that you had, and leaving the answer unmarked can attract users willing to positively contribute to the site by giving a proof of what is said in the answer. $\endgroup$ Oct 24, 2015 at 10:27
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ @NormalHuman Can I just clarify that you mean that a thank you comment is (in your opinion) pointless?(as opposed to follow up comments being pointless) $\endgroup$ Oct 26, 2015 at 6:28
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Maybe you want to look at the second answer to the linked question, which carries a completely different flavour. $\endgroup$ Oct 28, 2015 at 12:58

2 Answers 2


Take as long as you want or need.

It's good to remember what the actual purpose of upvotes and accepts are. An upvote is much more than simply a "thank you" or a way of giving imaginary internet points to other users. An upvote is an indication to all other users that this answer is good and helpful. When other users happen across questions, they are led to immediately understand which answers are more helpful than others by the votes.

So if you haven't decided whether or not an answer is helpful, then you shouldn't upvote it.

But you asked the question, and so you should read the answer. And then you should decide if it's helpful or not. And if it is, then you should probably upvote it.

When you accept an answer, you are also doing more than simply awarding imaginary internet points. You are indicating to others that your question is totally resolved. It indicates to other users that other answers might not be necessary. And if there are multiple answers, you indicate which answer you find the most helpful. This also helps organize and display information for future users.

So if you don't think your question is resolved satisfactorially by an answer, then you shouldn't accept it.

  • 1
    $\begingroup$ I'd add that if you don't understand the answer, then ask for clarification in a comment to the answer. It is hard to answer a question when you don't know how much of the supporting discussion that the asker understands. $\endgroup$
    – MaxW
    Oct 24, 2015 at 23:09

I would instead think of a waiting period before accepting any answer. Upvote as soon as you read it and are convinced it's a good answer. But wait to see if other people give perhaps better answers, or at least clearer answers.

With the Internet, our lives are becoming too quick and too stressful. It's up to you to say no, I will not allow myself to be stressed out by random Internet strangers, or by anyone. At work we have this policy that you can take up to one business day to respond to an email; if something is truly urgent, you call by phone.

So for MathSE, I would say wait until you get three answers, or a week passes by with only one answer. Another good waiting period would be $24$ hours, which is the waiting period to award a bounty.


You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .