Lately I have seen a number of questions posted on TGO that have been answered immediately by the very same person that was asking the question.

The latest examples...

All of the questions were answered by the original question author within minutes of asking the question (sometimes in the very same minute).

I am not sure if this is an ill-advised attempt at farming reputation (I don't assume it is ;)), or the attempt to build up TGO as a catch-all reference guide (which it isn't, and isn't meant to be).

Should such questions be asked at all?


3 Answers 3


Self-answering questions is perfectly legitimate, and is in fact encouraged! This refers to an important blog post on the subject written by Jeff Atwood, a co-founder (former) of Stack Overflow, entitled "It's OK to Ask and Answer Your own Questions."

From that post:

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

Bottom line — never hesitate to ask and answer your own question on any Stack Exchange site. Please do! It’s all part of our shared mission to make the internet better.

From the help section of the site:

Can I answer my own question?

Yes! Stack Exchange has always explicitly encouraged users to answer their own questions. If you have a question that you already know the answer to, and you would like to document that knowledge in public so that others (including yourself) can find it later, it's perfectly okay to ask and answer your own question on a Stack Exchange site.

  • Liam, I added some more information from the blog post you referenced in your first paragraph, including an additional quote from the same page. My intention was to expand without changing the original intent of your answer. If I over-stepped, I'm really sorry, and hope you'll roll back! Thanks! Jan 16, 2018 at 0:20
  • No problem @Sue
    – user2766
    Jan 16, 2018 at 9:16
  • I am totally aware (and agree) that self-answering is ok. But I still hold that someone asking a question shouldn't be asking if they already know the answer.
    – fgysin
    Jan 17, 2018 at 7:23
  • 1
    But that's exactly what the checkbox is for "To encourage people to do this, there is a checkbox at the bottom of the page every time you ask a question". So, again this is explicitly by design.
    – user2766
    Jan 18, 2018 at 9:26

Regarding the questions you brought up,

  • I was wondering what a top strap was when I was looking at the black powder revolvers on Cabelas and couldn't find the information in any easily accessible places.

  • I have recommended peanut butter at least twice, it seems to reason that I can also recommend a better way of carrying it.

  • I am not sure that anyone else would be willing to do the legwork it took to get the answer, and besides, I wanted to avoid people not getting the subtle difference between this question and my previous closed one.

As for why someone would want to self-answer

Also, what is the difference between me answering a question before it gets to 5 views which I do fairly often and me answering my own question?

Finally, I have to say that all of the unexplained downvotes on mine and other peoples questions really doesn't make me want to ask questions without answering them in addition to all of the other downsides I listed above.


(Yes, the irony of answering my very own question here didn't escape me. I wanted to clearly separate the discussion from potential answers though...)

IMHO questions asked on stack exchange should be real questions. We allowed hypothetical questions (see here), but the instantaneous answering of your own question clearly shows that it wasn't an actual problem that somebody had, nor was it even a hypothetical problem.

To quote the above link on what makes a question real:

If your motivation for asking the question is “I would like to participate in a discussion about ______”, then you should not be asking here.

  • 2
    Sorry, but this is incorrect. If you don't like the question or answer then you can downvote it. But there is no reason not to add a self answering question (the system is designed to allow this). Wether or not it is a real question is down to the community to decide (via up or down voting). Similarly if it's off topic you can vote to close.
    – user2766
    Jan 15, 2018 at 16:19
  • 2
    The idea of self-answering is if you had a real question and it was hard to find an answer, by asking and answering the question yourself, you are helping the next person.
    – StrongBad
    Jan 15, 2018 at 17:14

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