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I know there are a lot of posts about this issue, and I also agree that people should answer their own questions if they find a solution later on.

However, I have seen situations where users appear to have questions and answers just ready to paste on the forum Q&A site. The difference of time between question and answer is just a few seconds.

Sometimes, someone else answers the question, receives upvotes, but the user accepts his/her own downvoted answer anyway - example - Okay, this situation is very difficult to moderate.

But my point is this: Most of these ready question/answers are "correct". I mean, nobody else will lose time answering it.

However, we have lost our time reading the question and starting to write an answer. When the "perfect" ready answer is posted, we end up discarding what we have started.

I have tried to flag this kind of situation, but it was declined - Asking and answering your own questions is permitted

I believe this kind of situation in increasing and should be considered as SPAM.
I think we should find a way to reduce it, such as time limit, or creating a specific flag for it.

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"However, we have lost our time reading the question and starting to write an answer." This is why we now allow people to answer their own questions as they ask them. Also, how is this spam? How does it damage the site in any way? What you should be doing is encouraging people to answer their questions at the time of asking, not immediately afterwards. –  Nicol Bolas Jul 24 '12 at 23:10
    
but how do you know if it s a "ready" question/answer or not. Do you wait a few minutes before starting the answer for all question you know the answer? –  gabrielhilal Jul 24 '12 at 23:12
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It's not spam, so I don't need to ask myself if it is or not. And how is this any different from someone else answering with a better answer before you finish yours? Also, I have never had this happen in over 1 year on SO. –  Nicol Bolas Jul 24 '12 at 23:15
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Well, I think it would be good if a time limit could be bound to answering own question. –  The Alpha Jul 24 '12 at 23:16
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"However, we have lost our time reading the question and starting to write an answer. When the "perfect" ready answer is posted, we end up discarding what we have started." - It is your choice to discard your work. You are free to continue on with your post. Perhaps (as in the case you linked) the community may find your answer to be better than the OPs. I also completely disagree that should be considered spam solely because the answer was posted by the OP. If we apply that as a blanket statement we'd lose TONS of great content for no reason. –  FoamyGuy Jul 24 '12 at 23:18
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FYI, this is explicitly encouraged and a related feature is under evaluation at the moment. –  Bart Jul 24 '12 at 23:18
    
@SheikhHeera: That would work against the ability they added that lets us answer questions as we ask them. –  Nicol Bolas Jul 24 '12 at 23:18
    
@Tim - I haven't participate on the post I linked... it is not my answer there, just an example... –  gabrielhilal Jul 24 '12 at 23:25
    
@Bart - I hope the Q/A do not became a tutorial site instead of Q/A –  gabrielhilal Jul 24 '12 at 23:26
    
@gabrielhilal Nope. That issue was addressed soon after. –  Bart Jul 24 '12 at 23:28
    
@Bart - thanks, I will read more about it and try to understand the community opinion... but it is difficult to understand why to ask a question when you know the answer... On the other hand this question was closed because was a tutorial... well, I will try to understand it... thanks –  gabrielhilal Jul 24 '12 at 23:33
    
@gabrielhilal, what I understood is that, only because one solution to a problem could be hosted on SE and it will help others, IMHO. –  The Alpha Jul 24 '12 at 23:36
    
@SheikhHeera - well, today I flag this because was a tutorial, and it was closed... so I shouldn't? –  gabrielhilal Jul 24 '12 at 23:37
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@gabrielhilal That was not a question. If you self-answer, you should post an actual question (ideally of an actual problem you faced) and a separate answer containing your solution. The answer should never be contained in the question. –  Bart Jul 24 '12 at 23:38
    
'This is really not a question but a answer' so I think it deserves to be closed because there's no answer at all. –  The Alpha Jul 24 '12 at 23:41

3 Answers 3

up vote 9 down vote accepted

However, we have lost our time reading the question and starting to write an answer. When the "perfect" ready answer is posted, we end up discarding what we have started.

For this reason, if the asker intends to answer his own question, it's best if the answer is posted at the same time of the question. A lower time limit would be counterproductive.

The self-answer is not always perfect. If you think you have a better answer, go ahead and post it!

Vote on self-answered questions and self-answering answers exactly as you would vote on any other post. Upvote if it's useful, downvote if it isn't useful, vote to close if one of the close reasons applies.

Note that accepting one's own answer is largely an empty gesture: it doesn't affect the answer sorting order and doesn't confer any reputation. So there's no room for abuse there.

There's no need to have any particular flag because answering one's own question is not a bad thing. In fact, it is explicitly encouraged.

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I think you understand my point. Good to know that accepting own answer doesn't confer any reputation. Now, it makes more sense... –  gabrielhilal Jul 25 '12 at 0:11

StackOverflow is a wonderful place to help everyone learn about programming. A great way for that to happen is via quality answers to clear questions. If this user is providing legitimate answers to helpful questions, I would hesitate to call it spam.

However, we have lost our time reading the question and starting to write an
answer. When the "perfect" ready answer is posted, we end up discarding what 
we have started.    

I can understand the frustration of feeling cheated out of the chance to have an accepted answer, but you are not required to discard your answer! Regardless of what answer the OP chooses, yours can still be upvoted all on its own. It is actually encouraged to post your own additions, even when a question is already answered. For those seeking an answer in the future, your additional input is helpful, since it's doubtful that your answer will be identical to the OP's. Increased depth of knowledge is always beneficial.

If, however, the OP's answers are not valid or his/her questions are not adhering to the requirements, then I believe you have the right to flag a moderator for attention...

Otherwise, I can sympathize with you, but this will still help StackOverflow and all of its users in the long run. Don't be discouraged, post your own answers (if they are quality, you can still earn plenty of rep from them) and rest in the fact that you are still benefitting the world with your knowledge even if you aren't the one getting the green check mark beside your answer.

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it is not about frustration of feeling cheated out of the chance to have an accepted answer... It is about why to ask if you know the answer. But thanks for your answer... –  gabrielhilal Jul 25 '12 at 0:11

Even if Self-Answering were "wrong", it's NOT Spam!

Today at work we were discussing whether or not users really understood what the meaning of "spam" was. It's clear from the way you used the word in your question that you don't understand what it means either.

From the "Newsgroup or Forum" section of Wikipedia's Article on Electronic Spam:

...excessive multiple posting, that is, the repeated posting of a message (or substantially similar messages).

Okay, so Stack Exchange isn't a forum, but this section most closely describes the type of unsolicited electronic spam that we receive on Stack Exchange:

Forum spam is the creating of messages that are advertisements on Internet forums. It is generally done by automated spambots. Most forum spam consists of links to external sites, with the dual goals of increasing search engine visibility in highly competitive areas such as weight loss, pharmaceuticals, gambling, pornography, real estate or loans, and generating more traffic for these commercial websites. Some of these links contain code to track the spambot's identity; if a sale goes through, when the spammer behind the spambot works on commission.

From "Blogs, Wiki's, and Guestbooks" section of the article:

Similar attacks are often performed against wikis and guestbooks, both of which accept user contributions.

Spam flags are reserved for those instances where a user posts nothing more than a link to a third-party site for the purposes of commercial compensation or to otherwise promote a service, product, or community. If an answer is a positive contribution, even self answered, it isn't spam. If the answer is blatantly incorrect but well-intended, it isn't spam. In fact, flags are not intended for incorrect answers, and moderators are not here to judge the correctness of an answer.

As an aside, this makes me think that we might want to consider including a summarized definition of spam in the FAQ, as this isn't the first time I've heard someone on Stack Exchange use the term incorrectly.

Self-Answering is Encouraged

When it comes to answering your own question, as others have mentioned in the comments and answers in this meta thread, answering your own question is supported and encouraged by Stack Exchange's CEO and founder, Joel Spolsky. Stack Exchange exists for the content, not the people. So if there is great content out there that could be posted in a self-answer, then we shouldn't prevent that content from coming into existence.

One thing the asker could have done to make everyone's experience more pleasant could have been to follow one of these guidelines:

  • Use the Self-Answer feature. This ensures the question and answer are posted at the same time.

  • Wait 24/48 hours before posting an answer.

However, as Ason mentions, just because an answer is accepted doesn't mean you can't post. Consider this: An accept is worth 15 reputation, no more, no less. But if you post a really great, outstanding answer that the community loves, the sky is the limit. What's -15 reputation from a missing accept in comparison to 7 to 10 upvotes, or 70 to 100 reputation, gained from deciding to post anyway? Take that into consideration next time you feel hesitant to post. If you have something useful to add, please post it. :)

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