8

When watching Taxi Driver I noticed that a character named Sport had a long pink fingernail. I didn't know why and thought about asking here. But googling pointed me towards a reddit post. Such a question had not been asked on M&TV before and the reddit post is not that great an answer. So I decided to ask here and contribute positively to that Stack. I decided to answer myself also because I had already done research and ironically feared DVs for a lack of research.

First, everything went fine and I received UVs for my question and answer. But today I received two comments and coincidentally DVs for both my answer and question (for sure it needn't have been the commenters).

The first comment Did you seriously ask this question and then answer it yourself? was not so helpful. Jeff Atwood wrote:

To be crystal clear, it is not merely OK to ask and answer your own question, it is explicitly encouraged.

And the User Interface supports publishing your own question and answer together.

The second comment usually leave question open for a few days is a bit more concrete but also not so clear because I haven't accepted my own answer nor is the question closed so everybody who wants can still answer it.

I found this question: Is it right to answer your own question within few minutes? It seems to support my initial thoughts that it should be fine, but it is not only pretty old already (from 2012) and today's experience makes me think this might no longer represent community consensus. It's also about the very special case of someone asking and immediately answering -type questions that are no longer accepted here. (Another related question is rather about an answer that recapitulates one non-SE article)

That's why I hope for a broader and more general answer on how to behave when you plan to answer your own question which might benefit other new users. Like how long to wait, maybe add a disclaimer that you prepare to answer it yourself, role of and measuring question complexity etc.

What's the etiquette for answering your own questions?

| |
  • 3
    Personally I think nothing has changed since the 2012 answer. There's no reason to not ask and immediately answer your own question. – iandotkelly Jul 6 at 13:14
  • 5
    I don't think either of the two comments is entirely correct, but the first one is certainly downright not okay. – Napoleon Wilson Jul 6 at 14:52
  • 1
    Related Help Center article – A J Jul 7 at 2:15
  • 1
    The second comment was already 3 days late to be relevant even at the time. I flagged it to go bye-bye. I think you're pretty safe to mark your own question as accepted now :) – Tetsujin Sep 13 at 9:24
10

While Jeff Attwood might not be the top-most authority on everything SE anymore, his statements about self-answering are certainly very much still appropriate. Answering your own question is very much encouraged. You don't even have to wait with your answer to "give other users a chance at answering" either. If you got a good answer, post it! That's basically all this site is about. This isn't a race for who writes the better answer where people need equal opportunities to go at it. We want answers, and we want them NOW!

And in fact there is the specific option to answer your question immediately when posting it, which judging from the timestamps you actually used here. This is exactly for situations where you discover an interesting tidbit worth asking and answering before even posting the question. I've done that in the past too when stumbling over something interesting in the course of personal research.

But so much for the general ideal. As everything in life, this still has to be relativated. A self-answer in the form of a BlogOverflow that primarily serves the sharing of information less than the solution of a concrete problem might come with a higher threshold with regards to how relevant the question or how interesting the answer really is. This is certainly a somewhat subjective criterion. But if you would e.g. just quote Wikipedia for an answer, there doesn't seem to be much value in the question/answer and you knew that, whereas I wouldn't blame someone for posting a question largely answered by Wikipedia if he doesn't know the answer beforehand.

Personally, while I didn't find your specific question all too engaging when first seeing it, it's also not downright bad or useless and together with the answer it indeed offers some interesting insights into Sport's characterization. I didn't vote on the question but upvoted the answer and in true SE spirit I didn't even notice that asker and answerer were the same person. ;-)

All in all, I think you and your question/answer are fine. You might not be able to satisfy everyone and self-answers can come with the risk of people thinking them a bad thing, especially when they're more concerned about rep than if there's value to the posts itself. This can also depend on the specific site. There are sites where it's generally frowned upon more, but I think good self-answers have usually fared rather well here, even if there might be an occasional downvote (beyond the possibility of people just not deeming it a good question/answer in the first place).

| |
  • 6
    There's also a mechanism already in place because of which you cannot accept your answer before 48 hours of asking. It makes sure that other users don't get discouraged to post better answers. – A J Jul 7 at 2:13

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .