I posted an answer at the same time as asking, by clicking the "Answer your own question" checkbox.

A user said in response

That's not the way one asks a question, with its detail and background in a self-answer. The question needs to stand on its own -- and the OP should wait for people to see and try to answer the question before posting a self-answer, though the OP is always welcome to post his own answer per se -- it doesn't work that way.

If you ought to wait for others to answer before doing so yourself, why is there an "Answer your own question" checkbox?

The question was fairly short, and was more a question an English learner would ask rather than an expert English speaker, but I assume that doesn't mean you can't self-answer, so long as you aren't habitually gaming the system (I wasn't - IIRC this was the first time I've done this on ELU)

Is it ok to self-answer at the same time as asking on ELU?

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3 Answers 3

up vote 11 down vote accepted

Absolutely and completely fine.

So …

  • if you have a question that you already know the answer to

  • if you’d like to document it in public so others (including yourself) can find it later

  • it is OK to ask, and answer, your own question on a relevant Stack Exchange site.

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

That's part of why that checkbox is there—it's to allow you to provide an answer right away (in fact, it's a good thing because if you already have a good answer, then you won't waste other users' time in typing up their own answer only to find that the asker already had it ready).

Also see a very comprehensive MSO post.

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It might be polite to allow others answer first. It would be polite to accept others' answer if it's correct and not much inferior to yours (and it would be outright rude to accept your own answer if someone posted a superior one). Also, make sure the question is written well. –  SF. Dec 19 '12 at 10:52
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@SF There is no reason to allow others to answer first. It has nothing to do with politeness as I understand it. As for accepting the best answer, it is the right thing to do for reasons much more important than politeness. –  user18036 Dec 21 '12 at 2:13
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@ymar IMO, it is unfair for the simple fact it doesn't give time to other users to look for an answer. The first user who writes the answer is normally the one who gets more votes, when the answer is correct. –  kiamlaluno Dec 21 '12 at 4:54
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@kiamlaluno doesn't the existance of time zones and sleep mean there's always going to be "unfairness", as not everyone will be awake and on the computer when a question gets asked? –  Andrew Grimm Dec 21 '12 at 5:12
    
@AndrewGrimm If a friend of yours asks you a question, and only to you, there is just a person who heard/read the question. If the same friend of yours asks the question on EL&U, there is more than one person who reads the question. In the next 24 hours, the question would be seen from possibly many users; in the next 48 hours, the question would get many more users who read it. I didn't say that everyone must read the question, but surely 5 users are more than a single person. It could be none of the users who read the question answers it, but at least they had the chance of answering it. –  kiamlaluno Dec 21 '12 at 5:33
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@kiamlaluno I don't think we should be concerned about such petty problems. –  user18036 Dec 21 '12 at 16:06
    
@ymar I don't know to which petty problems you are referring, but to me answering to your own question without to give other user the time to answer it is still unfair. Furthermore, the linked blog article doesn't say that basic questions can be asked, and answered by the OP. –  kiamlaluno Dec 22 '12 at 3:36
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@kiamlaluno - Whether you or I think it's unfair is kind of irrelevant, as the creators of Stack Exchange have stated that it is not only fair, but encouraged. One can surmise that they wouldn't have gone to the trouble of coding a button that they never wanted anyone to use :) –  lindanaughton Dec 22 '12 at 3:44
    
@Lynn As I said, that blog post doesn't say how much basic should self-answered questions be. Whatever the creators of Stack Exchange says, a question like "What is the antonym of beautiful?" would be closed, whenever the OP self-answer it, or not. Saying that TPTB thinks that self-answered questions are always perfectly acceptable is not true. –  kiamlaluno Dec 22 '12 at 3:50
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@kiamlaluno: Indeed, I was not suggesting that self-answered questions should be subject to any different rules than regular questions, merely that I see nothing "unfair" about using a feature that TPTB have expressly coded and blessed. –  lindanaughton Dec 22 '12 at 4:00
    
@Lynn Still, that doesn't mean that feature needs to be always used. There is also a "delete" button, and code to handle it, but that doesn't mean the delete button must be used in every case. –  kiamlaluno Dec 22 '12 at 4:22

A general problem that turns up on some sites (I've seen this discussed on Christianity SE) is that the self-answerer is concentrating on the excellent answer they have in mind, and the question is thrown together as an afterthought just to lead to the answer. That's a problem: the question should be as well written and as well researched as ever. It should provide enough context and detail that another person could also answer the question asked. It should, in fact, be a real question.

Yours was. This is a general problem which turns up with many self-answerers, but your question here looks fine to me.

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Were you looking at the current version of the question, or the original version? –  Andrew Grimm Dec 31 '12 at 4:33
    
@AndrewGrimm. I was looking at the current. Never occurred to me to check the original. –  TRiG Dec 31 '12 at 16:28

It is allowed to write an answer for the question you asked.
What is valid for other questions is still valid for self-answered questions, though. Self-answered questions are not exempt from being closed, and this means (for example) that "What is the antonym of beautiful?" would still be closed as general reference, even if you would provide a detailed answer, and report the full spectrum of words between beautiful and ugly.

Self-answered questions are also expected to have a very good answer. If the answer is on the line of "It doesn't exist such a word." given together the question, it is probable the question would get many down-votes, and possibly closed.

Generally, it is also preferable to give other users the time to read the question, and provide an answer.
The main reason is giving the time to the users to decide if the question is worth to be kept open, suggest any changes to the question, or ask any information necessary to answer the question. IMO, writing a detailed answer for a question that would be closed as general reference sounds like forcing the hand of who would close the question.
The other reason is that it sounds unfair. Suppose that a friend of mine asks me about a problem he has with his Drupal site, and I tell him I will give an answer in 5 days, without suggesting him to ask on Drupal Answers. After 5 days, in which I had the time to verify the answer I was going to give, prepare my answer with any documentation reference, or references to code used by other module maintainers (including Drupal's maintainers), I write the question, and my answer. I am the first one to write the answer, and I had all the time to prepare it; for sure there isn't nobody who can write a better answer. Even if somebody could write a better answer, I still have 5 days the other users didn't have to look for an answer.

Notice that It's OK to Ask and Answer Your Own Questions doesn't say that you need to immediately answer your own question, nor that basic self-answered questions are fine, nor that a self-answered question is immune from closing votes.
It simply says that if somebody asked a question for which s/he has found the answer, s/he can answer her/his own answer. That is surely better than deleting the question; at least, the question, and its answer could be useful to future readers.

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"Generally, it is also preferable to give other users the time to read the question, and provide an answer." - why? –  Andrew Grimm Dec 20 '12 at 20:28
    
I expanded my answer. –  kiamlaluno Dec 21 '12 at 4:55
    
1) "forcing the hand" - I'm not really familiar with that phrase, but based on what wiktionary says, are you saying that it's forcing close voters to decide whether or not to close earlier than they would otherwise? –  Andrew Grimm Dec 21 '12 at 5:07
    
2) and the problem with one person having a 5 days head start is that competitors wouldn't get as many rep points as they would otherwise, and that a superior but late answer may get fewer upvotes than an inferior and early answer? –  Andrew Grimm Dec 21 '12 at 5:09
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I am saying that users could be influenced by an exhaustive answer, and decide not to vote to close a question that, without an answer, would be voted to close. There could be a superior answer, but (supposing that who answers needs the same time you took to write your answer) that would come after 5 days the question is asked; that still means 5 days to get votes before somebody else writes an alternative answer. Also, it is probable somebody else would not write a new answer, when there is already an exhaustive answer. –  kiamlaluno Dec 21 '12 at 5:18
    
In the case the question was asked you by a friend of yours, it is probable you have a reason more to find an answer. For the other users, it could be a questions like many others, but you could be more motivated to find an answer. These are general arguments, of course. –  kiamlaluno Dec 21 '12 at 5:20
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It's not often questioners write their own answers, so they're bound to be noticed more than others. That's why their answers need to be "very good" - they're likely to be judged more critically. So it's not important to worry about people doing it to artificially gain rep - they'd lose more than they gained, by creating a "backlash" unless they really were posting good stuff. I sometimes wish some of the really clued-up guys here would post both Q&A for "archetypal" versions of the recurrent closely-related issues that turn up. –  FumbleFingers Dec 21 '12 at 5:26
    
@FumbleFingers I am not sure I agree with your argument about not worrying about users trying to artificially increase their reputation. I can say that there have been a case of a user who (in another SE site) wrote questions found on another site, and the thing was not taken well. If I recall correctly, that user was suspended. The reputation he gained from his answers was not lost, anyway, as they discovered what he did after a while. –  kiamlaluno Dec 21 '12 at 5:40
    
Well, we have our very own such troll here on ELU (who often picks up questions from other sites), and he hasn't managed to hold onto any of his ill-gotten rep gains! I don't think rep-scamming is really an issue in a relatively small community like ELU. –  FumbleFingers Dec 21 '12 at 5:53
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"I am saying that users could be influenced by an exhaustive answer, and decide not to vote to close a question that, without an answer, would be voted to close." - and that's bad because? –  Andrew Grimm Dec 21 '12 at 6:04
    
@AndrewGrimm If a question is general reference, it is general reference with, or without answers; if a question is not constructive, it is not constructive with, or without answers. If a closing reasons applies for a question, it applies whatever it got answers, or not. So, if users are not voting to close because there is an answer, but would vote if there would not be an answer, I would say that is bad influence. –  kiamlaluno Dec 21 '12 at 6:33
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I'm very curious...why the multiple down votes? This doesn't seem controversial (give others a chance before accepting ones own answer). –  Mitch Dec 24 '12 at 14:08
    
@kiamlaluno assuming the danger is a question with an answer being wrongfully kept open, rather than a question without an answer being wrongfully closed. –  Andrew Grimm Dec 25 '12 at 10:20

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