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This is a suggestion for attacking the problem of too many unanswered questions, which in many cases are not really unanswered. This problem was already raised by Lord_Farin (and also by Amzoti). My suggestion is two-fold:

  1. Having a new tab confirmed unanswered questions which includes questions where the community has decided that they don't have an answer yet. At the moment the tab unanswered is pretty much useless with over 20.000 unanswered questions. How do questions get there?
  2. This is the issue for the new review queue: This works more or less like the bumping up by the Community user. If a question does not get answered in a certain amount of time (maybe 2 weeks once there are not that many anymore), then it gets into the review queue and a reviewer can decide if he wants to close/vote for transforming a comment to a community wiki answer/edit/really is unanswered [in which case it goes to the new tab.

What do you think? Do you have other suggestions for clearing the unanswered tab? Note that there also is a discussion chat about unanswered questions also attempting to remove some of them.

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  • $\begingroup$ It is presently not even in the power of moderators to transform a comment into an answer (I read this just today -- ah, found it: here). $\endgroup$ – Lord_Farin Jun 7 '13 at 15:40
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    $\begingroup$ On one hand, I like the idea of having a human-curated list of unanswered questions. On another, I don't see SE implementing it as stated. The Unanswered options are already confusing: Unanswered tab, Unanswered sort, and no answers -- all with different lists of questions. Adding the 4th list will aggravate this further. ... On the third hand, I'm not sure that many users would actually use the proposed list (sadly). $\endgroup$ – ˈjuː.zɚ79365 Jun 7 '13 at 15:49
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    $\begingroup$ From meta.SO: Are unanswered questions a problem yet?. All good reading, but the part I like the most is "[the site] needs to find a way of converting question askers into question answerers. Without flooding the place with crap answers." ... And here are more ideas from meta.SO, some implemented, some already declined (e.g., marking a comment as an answer). $\endgroup$ – ˈjuː.zɚ79365 Jun 7 '13 at 15:52
  • $\begingroup$ Re: "How do questions get there?" Questions are in the "Unanswered" tab if they don't have any answers with upvotes. $\endgroup$ – apnorton Jun 7 '13 at 18:58
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    $\begingroup$ @anorton Thx, but that was not the question. The question in 1. is a rhetorical one, preparing 2. $\endgroup$ – Julian Kuelshammer Jun 7 '13 at 19:09
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After thinking of it, I don't see a strong case for adding another review queue. The time that would be spent in this review queue may be better spent actually removing questions from the Unanswered list via the existing tools. The objectives are to

  1. find questions to answer
  2. dig answers out of comments
  3. find answers to upvote

Finding questions to answer

I recommend the sub-tab Unanswered: my tags. It tends to be overlooked because it seems static: questions are sorted by votes, and the difficulty of those on the first page is daunting. But digging deeper (to page 50 or so) you find the more approachable unanswered questions in your area of interest. Questions with the same score are in reverse chronological order. One can bookmark a preferred entry page for this list: for example, I noticed that recent unanswered questions with score 1 begin around page 34 for me (this depends on the user's tags).

Another approach is to create a filter for favorite tags and select no-answers sub-tab in the filter. This shows recent questions with favorite tags and no answer.

Finding answers disguised as comments

This query finds questions that received several comments but no answer. It excludes closed and downvoted questions. The query also shows each question's score and tags, to help in deciding which ones are to be investigated. Possible actions: invite a commenter to post an answer; post a CW answer yourself, call for a CW answer in the chat room. I'm not saying that the answer has to be marked CW (in the sense of credit waived), it just appears to be common to do so.

Finding answers to upvote

The sub-tab Unanswered: my tags helps here too: when browsing it, you will naturally find correct but unappreciated answers. Other tools you may find useful when in possession of a few spare minutes and votes:

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    $\begingroup$ I have been calling for CW answers where there was an answer in the comments that was not promoted after request. This is intended to be used when one merely quotes the comment answer. When one provides a bona fide self-crafted answer, CW is not needed of course. $\endgroup$ – Lord_Farin Jun 8 '13 at 7:22

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