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I Feel I now need to pre-face this question given the start of every answer, I love the idea of answering ones own question and sharing knowledge it's a good system and I feel it benefits the community in a big way. What I'm asking is purely based around understanding the correct language to be used in these type of questions and explicitly not about if you should or not Ask and Answer Your Own Questions.


Original post from here

I've seen a few of these ask and answer questions over the past month some really good some not so much and up/down voted where applicable but after seeing one of these cases today posted by slhck it got me thinking:

When asking a question in which you know the answer and plan to submit the answer too should you play dumb?

Extract from question:

I have no idea where they come from and how to disable them.

Now this was clearly not the case as the answer was submitted along with the question.

Is it good form to make a statement that contradicts the answer being submitted with it or should just the problem and prior troubleshoot (If relevant) be included?


I've read through the link he posted It’s OK to Ask and Answer Your Own Questions and the FAQ but it's only covering that it's allow and encouraged nothing regarding best practices ect..

also makes reference to some foreign TV show I have never watched so the secrets of the etiquette involved could just be lost to me due to geographical location

  • 1
    Not necessarily, but expressing how did you feel before knowing how to solve it and giving all the pertinent information could help. Here is a selfanswered question where I really was dumbstruck for almost 20 minutes before figuring out the problem. – Braiam Sep 20 '13 at 2:44
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    Also remember that selfanswered question can get answers from other users too. So the quality of the question matters and you have to write like you don't know (play dumb) where the problem is. – Braiam Sep 20 '13 at 2:50
  • @Braiam I'm not questioning the self answer I'm questioning what is appropriate language to use when posting a self answer question when you are using the "Answer your own question" function at the time of posting the question – 50-3 Sep 20 '13 at 2:59
  • As I said in my last comment, you have to play dumb, and I also played dump in my question (link in first comment), since he (I) really was dumbstruck and had no idea what was the problem. – Braiam Sep 20 '13 at 3:02
  • @Braiam: wth are "curly brakes" :D – Der Hochstapler Sep 20 '13 at 11:24
  • @OliverSalzburg beats me :/ – Braiam Sep 20 '13 at 11:33
  • Good question. I just came back here after answering one of my own question that made me feel like I have the dumb today... stackoverflow.com/questions/19063217/… I made it a Wiki citing user error. – Austin T French Sep 28 '13 at 4:52
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I must confess it's a little hard to come up with an honest question after already having the answer perfectly laid out before you. Think about it: If I really had mentioned all my research and efforts in my actual question, I would have written something like this:

I already checked the kernel extensions and deleted them. Then I removed all the preferences. I then looked a little further and disabled the launch agents — oh, and now I don't have to ask a question anymore because I know the answer already.

At that point, would you want me to delete the question and keep the research for myself? I decided, no, I didn't waste half an hour of my life just so that someone with the same issue cannot find help and has to go through the same things.

So I wrote everything I did as an answer and phrased my original situation as a question. Because I was really sitting there, seeing all kinds of BlackBerry-related processes in my Activity Monitor, having no idea where they came from, scratching my head over it.

The point is: If you already know the answer, you have to play dumb — at least a little, because otherwise the answer would have already been in your question, or you didn't have to ask the question at all. (You don't want to know how many drafts from Stack Overflow questions I already deleted.) I also decided to put most of what you'd usually expect to find in a question's research effort into a more structured answer, so that people finding the question could easily skip to reading the answer.

That being said, I absolutely agree with @terdon's statements:

  • Make the material you post useful for future visitors.
  • Don't post trivial questions and trivial answers.

Basically, the same rules for posts apply to self-answered questions. Although we cut users some slack with the questions themselves if the answers are good, and I think that's the main point here.

  • Just wanted to start with saying what you posted was good and I up voted off the bat because it was a quality post it's just from the time I first read for about 3 hours it kept popping back into my mind if it's better to post in a problem/solution format or fake it and act like you don't know the answer when writing the question – 50-3 Sep 20 '13 at 7:31
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    I know it might sound awkward, but simply put we need people to fake it in that case, yes. We've had several users who posted a tutorial in a question, which wasn't really compatible with the system though, so this is why require made-up questions. – slhck Sep 20 '13 at 7:46
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    What you did in the question at hand is Way better than what I often see people do. And that's post a lame "question" and then post an answer, just to get the answer in so they can google it later. Even if one posts the most detailed answer in the world, if their question (as a stand-alone entity) shows no research effort or usefulness, then I'll mark it as such. – Ƭᴇcʜιᴇ007 Sep 20 '13 at 15:47
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Well one should post an actual question for various reasons:

  • It's easier to read. I'll see the question and understand it as a question. If you don't do this your Qs might just get closed.

  • It makes it more findable. If I am searching for an answer to my own question, seeing yours posted in question form will let me recognize it as the same problem I am facing. Also, depending on how you phrase it, it might be easier to find via search engines if you include phrases such as "How can I?" etc.

  • I'm pretty sure @slhck's question accurately describes his state of mind before actually managing to figure it all out, at the time when he had the question himself.

The only other thing I would suggest is that since you're answering a question posted for the specific reason of answering it yourself, we would probably expect a relatively detailed and 'good' answer. Don't post trivial questions and trivial answers.

Apart from that, there isn't much protocol to deal with really. The same rules apply. Ask your question, stating the issue clearly and concisely (in this case also thinking about how other people might phrase it) and answer as clearly and specifically as possible.


Oh and the 'foreign'1 show is Jeopardy. From what I gather from the various movie references, it's a game show where the host gives the answer and you have to gove the question. For example:

A: This horrible piece of short-lived software was developed in 2000 to replace Windows 98 ...

Q: What is Windows Me?

1Everything is foreign to somebody.

  • Heh, my comment and your 3rd point coincide :P – Braiam Sep 20 '13 at 2:45
  • The self answering bit is not what I was questioning after reading his question and answer I gave both an up vote because they were both well written and a lot of effort went into them - It was the fact that he was acting like he didn't know the answer at the time the question was asked when he did know the answer. my personal thought would be that you would only use that language when their is a gap between asking and answering – 50-3 Sep 20 '13 at 2:56
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    @50-3 yes but remember that someone could see the question 3 years from now and will not need to know all the details about who answers what. It's just simpler all around to phrase it as an honest question. – terdon Sep 20 '13 at 3:01
  • I'll leave the question open for another 24 hours in case someone else wanted to add anything but "It's just simpler all around to phrase it as an honest question" pretty much covers it for me – 50-3 Sep 20 '13 at 3:15
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What is the etiquette surrounding Asking and Answering Your Own Questions

The 'etiquette' is simply to realize that there are two distinct and primary roles within the Stack Exchange community and that each have very separate responsibilites:

  1. The question Asker - Someone who has a specific problem
  2. The question Answerer - Someone who has a proven solution to the problem

Typically each of these roles are fulfilled by differing users, however there are times that these roles are fulfilled by the same user. What one has to do is realize that they are fulfilling these roles separately and therefore need to be separately treated.

Below is a guide on how I try to approach these roles, but understand that others may fulfill them differently.

The Asker

The Asker has a specific problem. He/She/It must detail the problem and any steps take that lead to the problem. Notice that I emphasis steps that lead to the problem and not lead to the solution. Steps that lead to a solution should be comments to the questions or (more preferably) as actual answers to the question.

I'm of the opinion that even partial solutions should be captured as an answer to the question since they can be later edited/added to get the full solution later.

An Asker does not:

  • Provide partial solutions to the problem within the question (You're now an Answerer, not an Asker)
  • Give the life story of the problem. Please be concise.

An Asker does:

  • Provide additional details of the problem as they arise as edits to the question.
  • Be as detailed as possible, while sifting through unnecessary information (Keep it as concise as possible, while still describing the problem as a whole)

The Answerer

The Answerer solves the solution, whether partially or fully. He/She/It must detail the steps it takes to get to the solution of the problem.

An Answerer does not:

  • Ask for more details on the problem (that's what comments are for)
  • Say 'I had the same problem, here is what I did to fix it'. (Just post the solution and not the "Me Too!")

An Answerer does:

  • Solve the problem, even partially (though complete solution are always more preferred)
  • Be as detailed as possible with the solution steps
  • Summarize any relevant sourced material
  • Cite any sources used to come to the solution

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