With the old SharePoint Overflow content migrated to this site, our "answered" site statistic has dropped from about 84% (already low) to just 72% at time of writing. From the Stack Exchange blog:

Answered questions have at least one answer with one upvote (or accepted)

This is one of the metrics that help us decide if this site is a success! How can we improve it?

There's discussion that can be had around this but for now here's some practical advice:

Seek out questions with no answers at all

Give an answer if you can help and if the question belongs here. For example:

  • Is it allowed according to our FAQ? If not then vote to close as "off topic".

  • Does it have a very low view count and/or is a problem that can't be reproduced by anyone else? Then it's unlikely to help others and should be closed as "too localized".

When voting to close, make sure it gets attention from other users. Post the question URL into our chat room or flag a moderator. (We'll create a special chat room for this if the main one gets too noisy.)

Seek out great answers in the unanswered questions list

There's not much to this, just choose questions from the list and learn something new about SharePoint! When you find great answers (and questions) vote them up. You may again find questions that don't belong here, so remember to vote to close when doing this as well.

One last thing

Please, don't vote on random answers for the purposes of improving our statistics! What makes our site great is it's high quality. Let's maintain that as best as we can.

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    Don't forget that a question deserves an upvote if it is helpful. It doesn't have to clear the "accepted answer" bar or be a complete solution. Just helpful. – SPDoctor Jul 29 '11 at 9:57

If there were a mechanism that allowed people to propose a response as an answer for questions, that would help. Some people fire and forget questions that have valid responses but never mark the responses as answers.

  • 1
    Tell me about it! – SPDoctor Jun 1 '11 at 14:56
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    I'm not saying it should be MSDN like, but something perhaps where someone with enough rep could propose a response as an answer, and people with above X rep can vote on the answer. Something similar to the Bounty system could be modeled as an answer proposal system. – Eric Alexander Jun 1 '11 at 15:00
  • I don't think that would be wise because only the person asking the question can say which answer helped them the most, or indeed if any did at all. It really makes me mad on MSDN/Technet that they do this to my questions, especially when they haven't been answered! We do have accept rate to help with this. – Alex Angas Jun 2 '11 at 1:21
  • @PirateEric FYI in case you didn't know, bounties can already be started by pretty much anyone on any question. – Alex Angas Jun 2 '11 at 1:24
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    No no no! When was the last time you saw a correct answer marked as answer on MSDN? Way too often I see that the answerer marks his own answer (that iften is totally irellevant) as answer, and mod blatently set it as answer, and since question owner is long gone (he couldnt be bothered to mark as answer so he cant be bothered with unmarking as answer either) its there for others with similar problems to find. Mrking as answer should be done by question owner only, he is the only one who knows if it answer helped. – Anders Rask Jun 2 '11 at 16:26
  • Again, let me reiterate, I'm not saying it has to be like MSDN. The straight bounty system won't really work in my opinion because people construe rep to be meaningful. The vast majority of users aren't going to sacrifice their rep so that the sites answer statistics go up which they don't see directly impacting them, all they see is a rep hit because they're giving it up for the bounty. – Eric Alexander Jun 2 '11 at 16:37
  • Marked up from -1, regardless of how you feel about this idea (and I'm not sure I agree) I think it is valid to say the least... – tekiegreg Jun 2 '11 at 22:09
  • I don't think its as much an issue of tough answers as to whether or not the originator of the question ever comes back and marks the question as answered. I've already seen questions asked, with answers, and the originator has NEVER come back so those remain open. I don't think the MSDN way is right, and it's been abused there, but there might be a better way to go here or get more questions so those open ones go down. – MichaelF Jun 23 '11 at 14:45

I have a feeling people don't sometime mark answers as answers because they forget to do so. I base this on the fact that in the comment they respond "Thanks, that did the trick", yet they don't mark the response as answer.

Could there be a mechanism to make it more visible on the front page that "You have 5 questions that don't have an answer". It would at least work as a reminder in these cases.

Honestly I wish I could tell someone not to worry about the high proportion of unanswered questions with SharePoint as a few things are working against a high answer rate:

1) Comparatively speaking to many other sites, SharePoint is a new product at 10 years old. For example Programming has been around a long while so StackOverflow.com gets plenty of answers. Networking has been around awhile so ServerFault.com gets plenty of answers, etc...

2) SharePoint has a wide breadth, it's nearly impossible to know everything about SharePoint. Hence knowledge is more spread out amongst what people have worked with.

3) SharePoint audience is still somewhat limited compared to the audience for the other sites. Meaning there are fewer people to answer.

So please, don't judge this site by answer %, we probably will never rank compared to the other sites in the StackExchange community.

  • This approach will lead us to a bad place. The criteria for a question being classed as "answered" aren't strenuous. Often it takes one person (not even the OP) to make one mouse click. For those questions that have no answers for long periods of time - how are they helping anyone in the SharePoint community? – Alex Angas Jun 2 '11 at 22:45
  • Alex: First off disagreeing with me is hardly a reason to mark me down...having said that... Second: Look at the front page, from my offhand sampling, many questions out there have zero answers, the ones that are answered my offhand evaluation is that they are tough answers to mark as "the answer"...often supplying incomplete facts or merely suggestions. SharePoint is tough and technical with answers not always readily apparent, deal... – tekiegreg Jun 2 '11 at 23:31
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    This is meta so please don't take it personally - vote up the answers you support and vote down the ones you don't (reputation is not affected). This determines broader community support. It doesn't mean I don't value your opinion, debate is good. Back to the topic: It's true that often something can't be marked as "the answer", however I'm talking about our answered site statistic, which is different. Sorry but you'll have to explain to me how questions with no answers for months at a time help anyone at all and can be regarded as anything except noise. – Alex Angas Jun 2 '11 at 23:58
  • Will it help anyone to have a bunch of non-answered questions? No. I just tend to be more pragmatic and say it'll be a fact of life on this site...you can close and/or delete if you like but you'll be fighting a battle that won't end for some time to come. – tekiegreg Jun 3 '11 at 0:38
  • I was going to -1 also, but it says "this answer is not useful". Actually this answer is useful, because it raises the issue of why unanswerred question percentage is important. I suppose the answer is because the Stack Exchange folks think it is important, and a measure of beta site success. Not sure what they base this on, but they have a lot of experience of knowledge exchange sites. I don't have any reason to think they have got this particular metric wrong. – SPDoctor Jun 3 '11 at 11:11
  • @tekiegreg It's early days and there's old content still to be cleaned up. I'm not looking to achieve 100% answered because as you say that's unrealistic. However we need to do what we can to make this a high quality site that people want to keep coming back to, and reducing our unanswered rate is one way of measuring that. – Alex Angas Jun 4 '11 at 5:02
  • @SPDoctor Good point about the tooltip wording, thanks. I've posted about that on the main Meta SO, as well as asking to add more info about how Meta works to SE site FAQs. – Alex Angas Jun 4 '11 at 5:58

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