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How to handle posts in “Unanswered” lists containing self-answers within question only?

I think we all agree that questions should not be edited to include the correct answer — that just duplicates the information. But what do you recommend doing when it happens anyway? I often see questions like this one where the OP asked a fine question and then later edited it to include the answer he found. Further answers are thus redundant and the question will never get out of the "Unanswered" tab.

Would it be appropriate to cut his answer out of the question and paste it into an answer of my own? On one hand, it feels bad to "steal" his text like that, but it's also feel more "correct" than leaving the question unanswered.

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marked as duplicate by hammar, Michael Mrozek, Toon Krijthe, Mat, Shadow Wizard Jan 10 '12 at 7:36

This question has been asked before and already has an answer. If those answers do not fully address your question, please ask a new question.

@hammar: thanks, that is indeed a duplicate. Sorry I didn't find it myself. – Martin Geisler Jan 9 '12 at 22:59
up vote 5 down vote accepted

First add comment asking the OP to post the solution as separate answer and accepting it.

If the OP is not responding after several days then yes, in my opinion it would be proper to copy the solution, post it as your own answer and removing it from the question maybe leaving some comment to notify what you've done.

Order is important and having the answer as standalone post is vital part of the order, let alone the correct answer resolving the question.

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Wouldn't it be best for moderators or others to contact the person and tell them to post the answer as an answer and then accept it?

That's what I tend to do. I use a comment to notify the commenter and/or author about posting it as an answer and then accepting it.

I'm thinking gentle education for end users is best.

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Yes, I should have mentioned this obvious way too — I've of course used it in the past. It's probably the most polite and best way, but it's also a bit slow and unreliable. – Martin Geisler Jan 9 '12 at 21:47
Only unreliable as the users using the site. The more we can encourage proper usage as a community, the better it will get. Sadly, those who are unreliable may be anonymous users who never return to the site. Or they may be lazy and not care. I don't know if a "reward" or a "debit" would help things or not? Just thinking out loud in response to your comment. – Chris Aldrich Jan 9 '12 at 21:49
There isn't much point in flagging for mod attention. We can't do anything more than your average user can do. Unless the OP is being a jerk about it. I usually just roll back the changes and add my cookie cutter "you should add this as an answer, etc etc" comment. Also, a link to the relevant faq question here might be nice. – Won't Jan 9 '12 at 22:06
Agreed. Hence my comment above (about it being hard to work with the "slow and unrealiable" through tooling). I think we just need to do our best to keep promoting the site/community and educating users. – Chris Aldrich Jan 10 '12 at 13:44
After I asked here, I left a couple of comments like @Won't suggest. That prompted some users to come back and post their answer as a real answer — yay! I did have to make a cleanup edit afterwards since they forgot to remove "solved" from their titles. Overall, I think it would have been faster for me to just edit it myself (since there wouldn't be anything to check up on) but the community involvement is also very important. – Martin Geisler Jan 19 '12 at 6:45

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