What is meta? ×
Meta Stack Exchange is where users like you discuss bugs, features, and support issues that affect the software powering all 127 Stack Exchange communities.

In the FAQ for all SE sites, it mentions this:

It’s also perfectly fine to ask and answer your own question, as long as you pretend you’re on Jeopardy! – phrase it in the form of a question.

My trouble with this is that it makes it seem backwards. In Jeopardy!, the question is an answer and the answer is a question. Interpreting the above quote in that way, you might end up asking the question in your answer! On SE, we rather specifically want the question to be a question, and the answer not to be a question.

Why use a confusing example of a game show when it might be clearer to specify that the question part should be in the form of a question and the answer part should be in the form of an answer? For example:

It's also perfectly fine to ask and answer your own question, as long as you ask your question and then submit an answer.

Is this reference appropriate as it's used in the FAQ, or should it be changed to something without the possible ambiguity?

share|improve this question
Indeed, this has been brought up before in various comments, but I don't think there's ever been an official question asked about it. –  Cody Gray Aug 19 '11 at 11:13
I think the point is that, like Jeopardy, you already know the answer and what you then shout out is a question that fits that answer. –  DMA57361 Aug 19 '11 at 11:14
I've always thought this way of explaining the rules was confusing. –  ChrisF Aug 19 '11 at 11:14
@DMA57361 Ah, the thinking behind it is much clearer with that explanation. The problem is, then, that something in the FAQ shouldn't require an explanation that isn't also in the FAQ! –  Samthere Aug 19 '11 at 11:19
or some kind of meta FAQ –  Flexo Aug 19 '11 at 11:30
possible duplicate of What does this section of the FAQ mean? –  kiamlaluno Aug 19 '11 at 11:35
I don't think this is a duplicate (for a change). There's a request in here to change the FAQ to something else. It's not a support question inquiring as to what it means. –  Cody Gray Aug 19 '11 at 11:42
@kiamlaluno The material discussed is the same, but that question was asking for clarification on its meaning, and I'm asking about whether it ought to be changed. –  Samthere Aug 19 '11 at 11:42
Well, this question is tagged discussion as the other one, and it is asking why the analogy with Jeopardy is used, in the same way of the other question. –  kiamlaluno Aug 19 '11 at 11:45
@kiamlaluno Point taken - I'll clarify in the question that I'm asking whether it really belongs, and if it should be changed. –  Samthere Aug 19 '11 at 11:46
add comment

3 Answers

up vote 20 down vote accepted

I'm absolutely in favor of getting rid of this. Why?

You shouldn't forget that

Jeopardy! isn't known all over the world.

Jeopardy! is a U.S.-American TV show, and I've never ever seen it here in Europe. The same would apply to our visitors from India, China and other countries that may have similar formats, but probably under another name. Even its Wikipedia article doesn't really talk much about an international influence.

I appreciate the cultural reference, but it is too specific in my opinion and, because of that, potentially confusing — even not taking into account the logical confusion about the "question/answer" concept.

share|improve this answer
Jeopardy! was on german TV for several years. –  takrl Aug 19 '11 at 11:34
@slhck Yes, but if you don't know what Jeopardy is, the first half still makes sense. The second half just adds color and gives some people a cultural reference point for when it's ok to ask a question when you know the answer. –  agf Aug 19 '11 at 11:35
@takri I read about it, but too bad that 1) I'm from Austria :P 2) I don't own a TV 3) the show ran around the year 1998, where I was still 10. –  slhck Aug 19 '11 at 11:38
I'm from the UK with US family - I knew Jeopardy! was a show, but I didn't know about the question format until Watson this year! The problem with not knowing what Jeopardy! is is that even if the first half makes sense, you'll still read the second half's phrase it as a question just after ask and answer. Does this mean you put your answer in your question and still ask a question? Does it mean you answer with a question? No, and we know that it doesn't mean that, but the FAQ shouldn't assume users have any SE experience. –  Samthere Aug 19 '11 at 11:39
@slhck Maybe the FAQ was written by people of a certain age then :) I'm one of the upvoters and as such in favour of removing this reference, I just felt a need to comment on the Europe reference. –  takrl Aug 19 '11 at 11:40
@Samthere Exactly. IBM Watson was the thing that brought me into researching what Jeopardy! actually is. –  slhck Aug 19 '11 at 11:41
@takrl I think the "People of a certain age" thing might be part of it for sure, that's a good observation. Jeopardy definitely was for old people and a few quiz show geeks before a couple of big news stories (Ken Jennings, Watson) in the past few years. –  agf Aug 19 '11 at 11:48
It used to be on Belgian television too, ages ago... It was called "Waagstuk" (in Dutch). I think the game or show as a concept is quite well known around the world, but not always as "Jeopardy!". –  fretje Aug 19 '11 at 11:52
@agf It may also be known by anyone who enjoyed watching "Groundhog Day". I find the current comments particularly interesting, because, as with Jeopardy for other people, the references to Watson and Jennings brought up here don't mean anything to me. –  takrl Aug 19 '11 at 11:52
Jennings won a bunch of times in a row right after they changed the rules to allow that (you used to be limited to a few wins). Watson is the computer IBM made that beat everyone at Jeopardy except one U.S. congressman who used to be a rocket scientist (literally) –  agf Aug 19 '11 at 12:02
I really think that those who don't know Jeopardy! actually have a better chance to understand the FAQ! –  Arjan Aug 19 '11 at 12:03
Yeah, I really don't have any problem with a clarification, I just don't personally find it confusing. –  agf Aug 19 '11 at 12:12
add comment

I just posted a question about text I didn't think was clear a couple of hours ago, so I sympathize.

But this text is absolutely clear to me. If you know what Jeopardy is, you get the idea that you have to ask a question for it to be acceptable. If you don't know what Jeopardy is, the first half of the sentence,

It’s also perfectly fine to ask and answer your own question,

Is clear on its own.

The connection to Jeopardy isn't that the answer is a question, but that you need to make your post a question, and that the person asking a question is also the person answering. You ask the question because you know the answer in both situations.

Edit: Just to reinforce, my comment on / response to the other answer:

If you don't know what Jeopardy is, the first half still makes sense. The second half just adds color and gives some people a cultural reference point for when it's ok to ask a question if you already know the answer.

share|improve this answer
I definitely see that there's logic behind it. The first part of the sentence alone would be fine - even better with then answer. With the second part, though, it took some looking at to make sense of, which is why I think that it being clear to some but possibly ambiguous to others could be a problem, if minor. –  Samthere Aug 19 '11 at 11:33
add comment

OK, in the interest of brevity, changing it to:

It’s also OK to ask and answer your own question.

share|improve this answer
add comment

You must log in to answer this question.

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