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I was trying to understand if it was true for the Dowker notation that every crossing gets an even and an odd number. The question was asked by somebody else. I think the answer is satisfactory but it was not accepted. Should the answer be improved or is there an opportunity to improve the answer, if I can improve the proof?

https://math.stackexchange.com/a/4240405/5602

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    $\begingroup$ Only that user can tell. And we are not them. $\endgroup$
    – Asaf Karagila Mod
    Apr 5, 2023 at 6:40
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    $\begingroup$ New users will often not realize that they are supposed to accept an answer, if they (subjectively) judge it to be the best answer given, and if they feel that it completely answers their question. Also, the new user might not even know how to accept an answer (i.e. by clicking the check mark). $\endgroup$ Apr 5, 2023 at 8:05
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    $\begingroup$ Also the user's profile shows “Last seen more than 1 year ago” so the chances are high that they will never come back and accept the answer. $\endgroup$
    – Martin R
    Apr 5, 2023 at 11:18
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    $\begingroup$ What I don't understand is active users stubbornly refusing to accept answers despite an explanation like this one. Recently, a user was like this, then eventually deigned to accept a few past answers after I wrote this comment under their new question. Like, what does it take for you to make a small contribution to the site by helping to organise its posts (upvoting/downvoting/accepting)? $\endgroup$
    – ryang
    Apr 7, 2023 at 8:45

2 Answers 2

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What should I do when someone answers my question? says

Decide if the answer is helpful, and then...

Accept it. As the asker, you have a special privilege: you may accept the answer that you believe is the best solution to your problem.

but also:

Accepting an answer is not mandatory; do not feel compelled to accept the first answer you receive. Wait until you receive an answer that answers your question well.

And How does accepting an answer work? explains:

Accepting an answer is beneficial as it rewards posters for correctly answering your question and informs others that your issue is resolved.

Which means that:

  • Only the author of a question can accept one of the answers.
  • Accepting answers is not required, although it is desirable.

There are several reasons why the author of a question might not accept an answer:

  • A new user may not know about accepting answers.
  • They forgot to accept the answer.
  • None of the answers satisfied them sufficiently.

and probably more. So while it is (understandably) not satisfying for the author of an answer not to get the green checkmark, there is not much that can be done about it.

It can be acceptable to “remind” users to accept answers, see for example Asking users to accept answer when they comment that it answers their question. But one has to be careful to be neutral, in particular if there are multiple answers (encourage to accept an answer, not your answer).

When I notice that a user has posted several questions, got answers, perhaps left comments acknowledging the answers, but never accepted an answer then I sometimes leave a comment:

I noticed that you got answers for many of your questions, but never accepted an answer so far. If you are not aware of it: Accepting an answer is important as it both rewards posters for solving your problem and informs others that your issue is resolved. See What should I do when someone answers my question? and How does accepting an answer work? for more information.

In this particular case, the question author's profile page shows that they have not visited the site for more than one year, which means that they most probably will never come back and accept an answer.

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Yeah, askers don't always see their question all the way through. What you can do is

  • If you think it's a good start, you can edit the answer to improve it.

  • Upvote the answer.

  • Leave a comment on the answer, like "Great answer. I think it should be the accepted one." This gives the answerer some nice feedback, and if I came across that question, a comment like that would help me to decide which answers to bother reading.

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