Currently, Chem.SE has a lot of unanswered questions. To me, this isn't a good sign, as the main purpose of the site (to build useful Q&As) is being only half-fulfilled. We're getting a decent growth in terms of users and posts, and community moderation is awesome, but this still hasn't improved.

As far as I can tell, the unanswered questions broadly fall into these three categories:

  • Really hard questions/Questions in niche topics: These can be answered with some research, usually, though sometimes you really need a topic expert. I've seen @Amaterasu and others do this at times (Your effort is appreciated!)
  • Questions which are easy, but just didn't get enough attention at the time: These need someone with a bit of time to come and give a good answer.
  • Questions which have good answers, but the answers aren't upvoted: The solution here is clear, vote vote vote! But only do so if you would have voted on that answer normally as well, don't just vote on iffy answers so that the question is removed from the unanswered list. If you find something with an iffy answer, add your own, better answer!

So, while it is clear how to fix individual unanswered questions, any ideas on how to tackle this as a whole?

  • $\begingroup$ There also is a fourth type, questions-that-should-be-closed, but I see almost none of those (hattip to the active closevoters!), so no need to really worry about them $\endgroup$ Commented Feb 5, 2014 at 17:11
  • $\begingroup$ GameDev held this event in December $\endgroup$ Commented Feb 5, 2014 at 17:22
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ It's time to try "Know someone who can answer? Share a link to this question via email, Google+, Twitter, or Facebook." :-) $\endgroup$
    – G M
    Commented Feb 6, 2014 at 22:43
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Questions which were answered by comments There are a lot of unanswered questions where the answer was supplied as a comment. $\endgroup$
    – MaxW
    Commented Sep 30, 2016 at 20:14
  • $\begingroup$ Questions with answers, but for which no answer has been accepted by the OP. If the OP doesn't accept an answer, then the question still shows in the Unanswered list. $\endgroup$
    – MaxW
    Commented Oct 1, 2016 at 0:31

2 Answers 2


One idea is to hold regular chat session, where we look for unanswered questions and post/discuss ones that seem answerable (the easy ones). It's much easier to answer when you have realtime help if needed, and this makes it easier to organize the answering. We can collect the tougher ones in a meta post.

Or just categorize all the unanswered questions in a meta post. This way, those who like researching answers can look at the first kind, and those who like explaining simpler stuff can do the second kind.

  • 6
    $\begingroup$ I like the regular chat session idea. Might get behind sending some stickers to folks that regularly participate in the chat discussions (note, not rewarding for content generation, but rewarding for working together to find an answer someone could post). $\endgroup$
    – Tim Post
    Commented Feb 5, 2014 at 17:00
  • $\begingroup$ I support this. $\endgroup$ Commented Feb 6, 2014 at 16:30
  • $\begingroup$ @LordStryker I assume you'd be an active participant? :) $\endgroup$ Commented Feb 6, 2014 at 16:34
  • $\begingroup$ @ManishEarth I'd be more than glad to help when it is convenient. $\endgroup$ Commented Feb 6, 2014 at 16:49
  • $\begingroup$ I never try chat but I think is a good idea! $\endgroup$
    – G M
    Commented Feb 6, 2014 at 22:40
  • $\begingroup$ sounds like a good plan - count me in $\endgroup$
    – user4076
    Commented Feb 7, 2014 at 8:32
  • $\begingroup$ Small update: While I think that we should be doing this, academic commitments mean that I may not be able to attend this event if it is held in the next two weeks. I'll try to get this rolling as early as possible (even if I have to miss the first session), but expect some delays. If you wish, feel free to take the reins yourself :) $\endgroup$ Commented Feb 8, 2014 at 10:19

Maybe you could introduce different types of voting for questions (for example after an upvote a few options are given asking to rate the answer very good, good or normal and each different option awards the user that answered a certain amount of reputation (increasing when a better answer))? This might encourage users to post better answers and put more effort into it?

  • $\begingroup$ This really is a separate feature request, but a nice one :) You may want to post this as a feature request on Meta Stack Exchange; to prompt users to check out the answers after voting on an answered question. $\endgroup$ Commented Feb 9, 2014 at 19:48
  • $\begingroup$ I just added it meta.stackexchange.com/questions/220291/… $\endgroup$
    – user2117
    Commented Feb 10, 2014 at 16:48
  • $\begingroup$ Gah, I actually meant the one "prompt the user to vote on the answers if he has done so on the question". Sorry about the lack of clarity; that one has already been asked. $\endgroup$ Commented Feb 10, 2014 at 19:56

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