• Is it okay to answer your own question?
  • Are there any rules that should govern asking and answering your own questions?
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Related MSO discussion: meta.stackexchange.com/q/16930/157047 –  Steven Jeuris Feb 10 '12 at 0:10
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This official stackexchange blog post makes it clear that it's not just acceptable; it's actively encouraged. –  Jeromy Anglim May 23 '12 at 8:29
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3 Answers

It is general Stack Exchange policy to allow answering one's own questions. It's even part of the FAQ.

I would say key etiquette factors are rate-limiting yourself and keeping the content high quality.

Early on we had a problem of one user posting tons of questions at once; even if you have an answer you shouldn't post too many per day as you will bump other questions off the main page. This limits exposure to other, open questions. One per day is probably fine.

Quality is a big issue; all self questions should be evaluated as if they were normal questions on the site, even if they immediately have a satisfactory answer. If a question is too basic or not on topic, it doesn't belong, period.

In addition, self-answered questions should be kept to a high standard because you know what the problem/answer is, so you have no excuse for a poorly stated question.

Make sure your question and answer is helpful to other users of the site. This is a Q&A site, not a personal notebook. Answers should be interesting or hlepful to more than just you.

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I agree with all this. Perhaps the issue of "what is too many questions in a given period of time" would be a relevant topic for another meta thread at some point. –  Jeromy Anglim Feb 10 '12 at 0:15
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I feel this phrase in your answer addresses it the best: "all self questions should be evaluated as if they were normal questions on the site" However, as I replied on Artem's answer I feel it is important to keep the following in mind: "there is a big difference between asking questions which you actually encounter, and just formulating questions out of knowledge" Please don't invent questions. –  Steven Jeuris Feb 10 '12 at 0:53
    
@StevenJeuris yeah, when I post and answer a question it's either because I found the answer myself when looking or I learned something on my own and thought it was really super cool enough to need to share. The latter hasn't happened often, but writing a question often drives me to find the solution. –  Ben Brocka Feb 10 '12 at 1:26
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Okay in the spirit of answering my own questions :-)

I use the following rough rules to be polite:

  • try to ensure that it is a legitimate question at the time of asking (i.e., I'm legitimately interested in the answer at the time of asking; Also, sometimes I'll have a partial answer, but I want to see how it compares to others)
  • give others a short period of time to answer before posting my own answer (generally at least half a day to a day)

That said, I don't know whether either of the criteria are essential. Voting will probably sort most things out. I also think that where the answer does not preclude other answers, the timing issue is less important, and probably meta is different, because the question is more for starting discussion, and there is no motive for rep increases.

In summary, I think people should be encouraged to ask lots of questions, and I think people should be encouraged to add their own answers more often than they currently do. I know that for just about any question I've asked on this site, I could do some research for an hour or two and find a reasonable answer. I've done that several times, especially when I haven't received an answer for a few days.

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"give others a short period of time to answer before posting my own answer (generally at least half a day to a day)" This is already addressed by the fact that you aren't able to accept your own answer immediately. People still get a chance to improve on your own posted answer. –  Steven Jeuris Feb 10 '12 at 0:08
    
In some cases I'd probably prefer just to start answering my own question straight away; e.g., ask question, and then get on the case of doing google searches and google scholar searches etc to find an answer, although I worry that it: (a) is thought poorly of by the community, perhaps because it plants the seed that it might not have been a real question, or that it somehow indicates an inappropriate desire for rep; (b) it discourages other answers which I would be interested in reading. –  Jeromy Anglim Feb 10 '12 at 4:44
    
(a) shouldn't be a problem as long as it is a real question. See my comment on Ben's Answer. I'm not entirely clear on (b). You mean asking/answering your own questions would reduce your participation on other questions? I would rather follow the philosophy that you should participate where you can help most. When you just figured out a question yourself, I'd argue that's where you can help out most. You can perfectly describe the question and ideally the answer you found. –  Steven Jeuris Feb 10 '12 at 10:44
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I think it is fine to answer your own question (on the main site) if it is obvious you didn't know the answer at the time of asking and worked on answering it. On the meta you can always answer your own questions :P.

However, the initial question should still show initial research effort. I am unhappy about this question to self-answer pair because the initial question does not show research effort. This is made clear by the almost immediate wikipedia-link answer by the same user.


Full disclosure: I have asked and answered my own question. I provided my answer for completeness sake after accepting a good one. I guess I knew the answer I posted when I asked the question (as in I was familiar with quantum cognition, etc), but I had not really thought about the fact that it is a perfectly rationalist explanation until thinking about rule vs. act rationality in @OfriRaviv's answer.

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"I am unhappy about this question to self-answer pair because the initial question does not show research effort. This is made clear by the almost immediate wikipedia-link answer by the same user." The reason why Ben posted this question was most likely because he didn't know where to start to look. It's a terminology question. When you don't know the terminology, it can be hard to find information about the subject. Ben himself expressed this perfectly in a meta post on which questions are too basic. –  Steven Jeuris Feb 10 '12 at 0:14
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Furthermore, I do not feel you shouldn't know the answer prior to posting a question. If you spent a considerable amount of time finding a certain resource, and only then consider it might be useful for the community, I don't see any reason why you shouldn't share this knowledge. The main concern is that it should be an actual question you encountered. –  Steven Jeuris Feb 10 '12 at 0:16
    
@StevenJeuris <sarcasm> does that mean I should rephrase all my research papers as questions, post them on this site and then answer with my findings? </sarcasm> The site will evolve naturally to be a great resource for the cogsci community, I don't think we should seed it with questions we already know the answers to... if the community really cares about the question, someone else will ask it down-the-line and you will already know the answer to give. –  Artem Kaznatcheev Feb 10 '12 at 0:19
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I'm sorry, I see know I wasn't that clear. :) What I meant was "The main concern is that it should be an actual question you encountered recently." Furthermore there is a big difference between asking questions which you actually encounter, and just formulating questions out of knowledge. "How does the brain work?" isn't a valid question. Knowledge you gain while studying the subject isn't all stuff you would ask questions about. ... I'll have to attempt phrasing this in an answer of my own. –  Steven Jeuris Feb 10 '12 at 0:25
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