Cases such as

Proof of no prime-representing polynomial in 2 variables

will cause the Accept Rate of the asker to decline even though there really isn't an acceptable answer to the question. What's a good approach? I try to make a point of accepting answers, and I feel bad about having my Accept Rate go down without being able to do anything about it.

EDIT: I ended up accepting that partial answer even though it does't add a whole lot of data. Regardless, I think the question still stands.

  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Tangent, since you're talking about my answer: I thought it did add something, since I showed a reduction to a hard problem, as well as a specific instantiation: as of Jones 1982 the problem was open. If someone had asked if a Hamiltonian cycle could be found in polynomial time I wouldn't feel bad about answering "No, assuming P != NP" and this feels similar. $\endgroup$
    – Charles
    Sep 20, 2011 at 5:04
  • $\begingroup$ @Charles, I ended up accepting your answer. It certainly added information but I don't quite agree it's similar to P!=NP. Ribenboim's book is from 1995, so knowing that the problem was open as of 1982 isn't very conclusive. No offense meant, of course, but I just don't feel this is an answer per se - perhaps posting it as a comment would be more natural. $\endgroup$
    – Alon Amit
    Sep 20, 2011 at 8:37
  • $\begingroup$ The problem reduction is like P != NP. I agree, it would be nice if I had a more recent survey -- and I hoped someone more familiar with the field would post such. But I think this gets you pretty close. I imagine the problem is open today, not just in 1995. $\endgroup$
    – Charles
    Sep 20, 2011 at 13:33

1 Answer 1


I can understand your worry, you have two options in my view:

  1. Don't worry. At the moment your accept rate is 80% which is fairly okay, especially considering that you only asked six questions. (I usually make note for percentage below 70, or if the amount of asked questions is very high and most have decent answers)

  2. Edit the question to reflect the possible problems in the answers given so far by people, and caveats for a future answerer.

Remember that if no answers are given then the accept rate is unharmed, two of the three answers were deleted.

Lastly, some questions are just hard questions. It is possible that there is no simple answer, and it is possible that you will not receive a satisfactory answer for this question at all (albeit I hope this is not the case).

  • $\begingroup$ 1. I'm happy to take this option and not worry, but this isn't just about me. For some people who like to ask lots of hard questions this may be a real issue. $\endgroup$
    – Alon Amit
    Sep 19, 2011 at 4:45
  • $\begingroup$ 2. Not sure how that would help? The answers are still there after I edit my question. "If no answers are given" - of course. I'm asking about when they are. "Hard questions" - again, of course. If there is no answer, bummer, but the problem I'm asking about doesn't arise. $\endgroup$
    – Alon Amit
    Sep 19, 2011 at 4:46
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    $\begingroup$ @Alon: When there are two people who can answer your question on this site, maybe it's time to take the question to MathOverflow where it may have a bit more chance of being answered. $\endgroup$
    – Asaf Karagila Mod
    Sep 19, 2011 at 5:32
  • 3
    $\begingroup$ I don't think MO is the place for every question that doesn't get answered here. This isn't a research question and I'm quite sure it originates in a simple typo - I just wanted to confirm that and I think I did. $\endgroup$
    – Alon Amit
    Sep 19, 2011 at 5:49
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ @Alon: I do agree with that, however at some point questions which are very hard become less suited here and more suitable there. Even if they are not research level. $\endgroup$
    – Asaf Karagila Mod
    Sep 19, 2011 at 5:50

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