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I recently posted a partial answer to this question. It was too long to post as a comment.

Would it be a good idea to have a 'this is a partial answer' checkbox underneath the 'post your answer' button? Questions with only partial answers could then continue to be in the unanswered queue, the OP would be unable to accept a partial answer and the OP's accept rate would not be lowered by the partial answer.

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    $\begingroup$ To avoid a misunderstanding, especially for feature requests, voting means support or non-support for the feature. A down-vote is generally not intended as a criticism of the post itself. $\endgroup$ – quid Jul 31 at 11:53
  • $\begingroup$ Recently, there was somewhat similar discussion at Meta Stack Overflow: This answer is a stub. A partial solution for partial answers on Meta. $\endgroup$ – Martin Sleziak Aug 7 at 22:44
  • $\begingroup$ I think that in principle this suggestion is a good one, although perhaps the benefits it brings is not quite significant enough in most cases for it to be worth the time to implement it. $\endgroup$ – YiFan Aug 22 at 22:37
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The point regarding the "unanswered" queue is a good one. It is indeed not ideal if questions appear as "answered" yet only have a partial answer.

However, considering the cost versus the benefit I think it is not likely that this will be implemented. Here, by cost I do not only mean the actual cost in developer-time but also the cost of added complexity both technically as well as sociologically (for lack of a better word).

The notion of accept rate, while once prominent, is not very predominant anymore. I would say a user that only got a partial answer can feel free not to accept it without being penalized by the system.

Two more points:

  • I would encourage users that only give partial answers to make clear this clear in the answer. (I does not have to be a flashy warning, but it should be explicit.)

  • For users that got a partial answer to a question yet not a full one, personally, I would consider it, at least under certain conditions, as admissible to reask a modified version of the original question stressing the still open point and taking the partial answer into account. (Of course the relevant post should have been on the site for quite some time before one should consider this.)

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