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I also know that sometimes the community and the founders opinion can clash on some minor issues (meta, for a starter) so I'm here to get the general feeling on the ask and answer your own questions recommendation.

The question/answer in issue being this one that I have answered on Jun 14 on Quora. As it has come up often and I've been redirecting people there for the answer, and as I think SO is a much better oriented site for this sort of thing, remembering the post from 2011 I've "migrated" the answer.

Is is ok, or should I delete it?

Both arguments can be done pro or against it. It may seam I'm trying to farm rep would be a good argument against. A good answer (hopefully) will improve SO.


Edit: While my question was related to the "should I ask/answer my question" as Gumbo's recommendation was different:

StackOverflow is not a Wiki where you ask a (although seemingly popular) question and answer it yourself at the same time.

It is pretty clear that the community is strongly pro answering your own question. On this specific case, however, there were several issues raised that related not to the action itself but to the quality of the content.

Even though meta feels like a thunderstorm, I thank you all.

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Relevant: meta.stackexchange.com/questions/132886/… –  Bart Nov 20 '12 at 19:26
    
@Bart, thanks. I had read that. And it goes in the line of the blog post. But there's the issue on the community acceptance of it. –  Frankie Nov 20 '12 at 19:28
    
Note that Quora, like Stack Exchange, has licensing rules on its content. To copy Quora material, you must -- among other things -- "attribute Quora by name in readable text and with a human and machine-followable link (an HTML <a> anchor tag) linking back to the page displaying the original source of the content on quora.com on every page that contains Quora content." –  Pops Nov 20 '12 at 19:31
    
@PopularDemand i added the link to the answer. –  amanaP lanaC A nalP A naM A Nov 20 '12 at 19:32
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Why is this post titled "Community versus Jeff's opinion"? –  Robert Harvey Nov 20 '12 at 19:33
    
@RobertHarvey cuz it was Jeff's blog post about self answering that spurred the question I assume. –  amanaP lanaC A nalP A naM A Nov 20 '12 at 19:33
    
@PopularDemand idk the proper channels. Fix it so that it is better attributed if you can. –  amanaP lanaC A nalP A naM A Nov 20 '12 at 19:34
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@RobertHarvey And this comment expresses the other side. –  Daniel Fischer Nov 20 '12 at 19:34
    
@PopularDemand, in this specific case the content is mine. I'm the sole proprietary and I've given license to Quora to distribute it. But nothing there prevents me, the author, from also distributing it. –  Frankie Nov 20 '12 at 19:37
    
@PopularDemand whatever are you talking about? I have no idea how to attribute it. How was I to know to put the username etc in there as well? –  amanaP lanaC A nalP A naM A Nov 20 '12 at 19:38
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5 Answers 5

up vote 13 down vote accepted

Gumbo is misinformed.

Assuming this is a quality question and on topic for the site, then asking and answering your question is ok, as yes, Jeff says that it's explicitly encouraged, and the team took it one step further by giving you a feature to answer your own question when you ask it.

However, in this particular case, it is not a quality question. Currently, it states:

I've been told that you should not store the users password clear-text in a database. How should I store them?

In the news there are several examples of high-profile sites that have been compromised like LikedIn. What happened? Did they store the passwords as plain text?

There are many problems with this, namely that it is subjective (we don't know how other sites stored their passwords), overly broad ("how should I store them?", if you can write a book on it, it's probably not a good fit).

That makes it very much not constructive and doesn't have a fit for the site at all.

That said, this isn't about whether or not you are going against Jeff's opinion, as the question fails site quality guidelines to begin with. Jeff wouldn't want this type of question, and that's why a specific close reason for this type of question is baked into the system.

When you're asking and answering your own question, you have double the responsibility. Most people think "oh, I have a great answer for this" and that justifies the question. That's not the case. A good answer doesn't justify the existence of a bad question. The question is still subject to the same quality guidelines.

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The second paragraph of the question should be nuked completely. Stack Overflow isn't the place for news gossip, and unless they released that information publicly somewhere, there's no way the community here would even be able to answer it. –  animuson Nov 20 '12 at 19:47
    
@animuson I really feel the question needs to be closed. If you can write a book on a subject, it's not a good fit for a Stack Exchange site. –  casperOne Nov 20 '12 at 19:48
    
@casperOne, even though I've accepted your answer because you are right (the community is ok with the guidelines) and the question needed way more work, it seams you have not fully grasped my question as it was never me against Jeff's opinion but me respecting the community (by Gumbo's comment) or me respecting Jeff's ideal of what SO is or is not. –  Frankie Nov 20 '12 at 20:14
    
@Frankie How did my question indicate that I believed you were at odds with Jeff at any point? I've indicated consistently that it's ok to ask-and-answer your own questions (see the revision history) and reworded this answer after your initial comments. What is it that I'm missing? Also, you're not obligated to mark my answer as the answer if you feel it doesn't answer your question to your satisfaction. –  casperOne Nov 20 '12 at 20:17
    
@Frankie I see, you weren't very clear and the edit you made clarifying was made after my last edit. That said, I've added the indicator at the top that Gumbo was flat out wrong to tell you that, while the rest of the answer supports why, but also goes into the responsibilities that you have when asking a question and answering it at the same time. –  casperOne Nov 20 '12 at 20:22
    
@casperOne, I've marked your answer (even though it's less voted than Manishearth's) because you answered not only what I was asking but extended to the sideways on content quality. No obligations here. The sentence in question would be that said, this isn't about whether or not you are going against Jeff's opinion; however after careful reading it may as well be one of those nuances that don't come natural to me as I'm not a native speaker. –  Frankie Nov 20 '12 at 20:22
    
@casperOne your prior comment answered my last one. Meta is way to fast-paced for me. –  Frankie Nov 20 '12 at 20:24
    
At what point does StackOverflow become a blogging engine? According to the timestamps OP posted the question and answer in the same second. Why would I want to answer anyone else's question if I could simply phrase it in my own way, answer it myself, and reap the rewards? –  Mike B Nov 20 '12 at 20:34
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@MikeB I'm not sure what you're getting at? If you are phrasing other peoples questions as your own, at best, we'd close it as a duplicate (possibly merge it). Stack Overflow was always part blog engine. Remember the Venn diagram? –  casperOne Nov 20 '12 at 20:36
    
@MikeB: I think those fall under the heading of "General Reference." –  Robert Harvey Nov 20 '12 at 20:40
    
@MikeB: Could be Too Localized. As always, such questions have to fit community guidelines. From a larger perspective, they should also appeal to a reasonably broad cross-section of programmers. Weird edge case questions have a checkered history here. –  Robert Harvey Nov 20 '12 at 20:43
    
@MikeB I don't see why that would be an issue. Posting a question with a self-answer is a feature that was explicitly included (which is what the OP used here). If you can come up with interesting question that fits the guidelines, you can post an answer if you wish. –  NullUserException อ_อ Nov 20 '12 at 20:43
    
@NullUserExceptionอ_อ I guess that answers my original question - SO mods will allow it, who knows how the user-base would react. Thanks :) –  Mike B Nov 20 '12 at 20:46

Farming rep? Screw that. You seem to have posted some quality content over there. Your question could be better phrased, but you're answer is quite informative. It's fine, IMO.

It becomes rep farming when users do it with substandard posts. Or do it too often with problems they really haven't faced (the common reply to this is "start a blog"). Not in this case :)


Edit: @casperOne has a valid point here, though - your question, in its current form, is sorta "not constructive." When you self-answer, both the question and answer should be of good quality. In its current form, the post could be closed due to the question. If you can rephrase the question so that it sounds like a more natural question (and isn't non-constructive), that would be much better.

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The question needs serious work. –  casperOne Nov 20 '12 at 19:32
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@casperOne: Yes, it does. But the answer is quite good--I mentioned that the question could be better phrased. –  Manishearth Nov 20 '12 at 19:33
    
It could be, but I don't see how it can be phrased in a way that allows it to be open at this time. You have a double duty when you ask and answer a question, the answer and the question has to be of quality. If you don't have it in both, you shouldn't post both. –  casperOne Nov 20 '12 at 19:34
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@casperOne: I dunno -- I think the Q can be improved (and it isn't that bad in the first place). You're absolutely right about the not having it in both. –  Manishearth Nov 20 '12 at 19:38
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@casperOne: I've made an attempt to improve the title of the question. The body seems OK. –  Robert Harvey Nov 20 '12 at 19:40
    
@casperOne, quality on the question is a good point that I've overlooked - I simply rewrote what was originally asked on Quora. I rephrased it just to avoid copy-write. –  Frankie Nov 20 '12 at 19:40
    
@Frankie: Quora allows a wider variety of questions than we do -- sometimes it's more of a discussion board than a Q&A site. So some adaptation is needed. –  Manishearth Nov 20 '12 at 19:41
    
The answer is not "quite informative," it's downright misleading (see the comments under it). Unfortunately it was posted at Stack Overflow, where (unfortunately) many people are still unfamiliar with recent trends and some of the more nuanced aspects of password hashing. If this had been posted on Security.SE, I believe it would have a much colder reception (not to mention it's got a dozen of dupes over there already). –  NullUserException อ_อ Nov 20 '12 at 20:47

There is nothing wrong with answering your own question. It's been made quite clear for quite some time that this is acceptable, even to the point of adding functionality to the "ask a question" page to self answer, so clearly doing so can't be globally wrong.

Even though it's okay, it's still hard. It's quite a bit harder than asking or answering a regular question.

The primary issue here is that you can't just take a blog post, tutorial, or answer that you've written and just stick a "how do I do X?" question above it. SO has very high standards for questions, and those standards apply equally to self answered questions as they do to any other type of question.

If you came across someone who posted a question on SO asking:

I've been told that you should not store the users password clear-text in a database.

How should I store them?

In the news there are several examples of high-profile sites that have been compromised like LikedIn. What happened? Did they store the passwords as plain text?

what would you do? Would you answer it? To me that question is way too broad for an SO question. It's essentially just asking for a tutorial on a very complex topic.

The question that you've asked will be evaluated on its own merits, entirely separate from the answer, regardless of the fact that you happened to write both. That question is simply so broad that it needs to be closed as "not a real question". (Given that the topic is also somewhat debatable and controversial, "not constructive" could also be appropriate. Additionally, there are duplicate questions on the subject, so closing as "exact duplicate" would be appropriate as well.)

Now, having it closed isn't the end of the world. Perhaps someone can help you formulate a more specific, targeted question to ask for which your answer (or a slightly edited version of it) would be appropriate.

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+1 for talking about the question itself. There's nothing wrong with answering your own question, but this particular question is terrible, even if the answer is great. –  animuson Nov 20 '12 at 19:34

I'd leave it

Quora requires registration to view their content, so I find information is more accessible on SO. In addition, due to style of SE's Q&A framework and the lack of ads, I always look at SO links first when researching a problem.

Sharing knowledge through asking and answering your own question is great, so don't stop doing that, especially when you have such a well-written answer.

If you are concerned that it may seem like rep-farming, them make your post a community wiki so the votes won't affect your rep.

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Community wiki is dead, and is not to be used for this purpose. –  casperOne Nov 20 '12 at 19:33
    
@casperOne I didn't realize that had changed, thanks. Why did it get changed? –  Rachel Nov 20 '12 at 19:34
    
Suggested edits killed it - blog.stackoverflow.com/2011/08/the-future-of-community-wiki –  casperOne Nov 20 '12 at 19:36
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It was too controversial for too long, and was being misused in inappropriate ways. –  Robert Harvey Nov 20 '12 at 19:36
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Quotra requires registration? I had no trouble viewing the question and all its answers on Quora... –  animuson Nov 20 '12 at 19:37
    
@animuson Strange, I clicked on the link to verify this right before I posted it and it gave me a popup asking for registration information, but I clicked it a 2nd time just now because of your comment, and its showing me the post. –  Rachel Nov 20 '12 at 19:38
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@animuson When you first go there, they present you a pop-up "Why should I sign in...". That has a "close" link, though, and if you close it, you get the site fine. I guess (haven't tried) you get that pop-up only once (per cookie). –  Daniel Fischer Nov 20 '12 at 19:42
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@DanielFischer I had no idea about that, thanks. I usually just back out of any google search result that gives me a registration popup, and add that domain name to a mental list of sites not to bother checking :) –  Rachel Nov 20 '12 at 19:43
    
Well, I had a reason to look closely. If animuson hadn't said the contrary, I'd have interpreted that as requiring registration too, probably. –  Daniel Fischer Nov 20 '12 at 19:47
    
Well if Quora had a Meta (I don't know if it does, nor do I really care), you could go complain about making the "Close Popup" button more noticeable. :P I did have to look pretty hard to notice it myself. –  animuson Nov 20 '12 at 19:53
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@RobertHarvey "was being misused in inappropriate ways" As opposed to misused in appropriate ways? –  NullUserException อ_อ Nov 20 '12 at 21:00
    
@Null Ah, the pedants. –  Robert Harvey Nov 20 '12 at 21:02

I'm a big advocate of self-answered questions. But asking the right question, when you already know the answer can be difficult.

The biggest issue I see with the question is that there are a cluster of related questions that you might have picked to provide an answer to instead of asking a new question. Unfortunately, the question that seems the best fit is already marked as "Not Constructive". Thinking about it, I wonder if there is already enough information about that particular topic on Stack Overflow. Certainly a very general question such as the one you asked is probably not making the internet a better place since the information is widely discoverable.

I've found that the best self-answered questions focus on very specific and obscure issues that you have faced. Since the odds that the person with the answer will every read the question, you do the world a service by documenting some little corner of the world for the handful of people who might find it.


A strange note: it turns out I plucked this exact question out of the air as a hypothetical cross-posted question.

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