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This question is an example where the question author's answer was flagged as not having a quality answer when he answered his own question, and his answer was subsequently deleted.

While I fault the wording and general low quality of the answer provided by author as the reason it was deleted, and while I do believe some answers authors provide to their own questions should be deleted (in the case where one provides commentary instead of an answer), I think this answer was flagged incorrectly as a case of mistaken identity. His answer probably would not have been deleted had the reviewers realized the answerer was also the question author.

Had the reviewers known it was the author, and recognizing the author posted a low quality answer, I suspect the reviewer(s) would have been more apt to place a comment requesting clarification / enhancement rather than flag it for low quality and/or deletion. As it stands, seeing a short answer with poor grammar from a low reputation user immediately kicks in the "flag for deletion" instinct. Knowing it is the question author creates a cause for pause during review.

That having been said, I believe the current use of identical highlight as the OP is insufficient, and the addition of a word or other identifier to the user summarization rectangle (Avatar, Name, Reputation, Badges, Timestamp) would help prevent mis-identification in the future.

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Heck, put a little image of a unicorn next to the answerer's avatar if he's the question asker. –  JoshDM Aug 12 '13 at 21:57
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Im not sure I agree with your reasoning (that an answer should be judged differently because its made by the question OP) but I do agree with your conclusions (that knowing an answerer is the OP is useful context) –  Richard Tingle Aug 12 '13 at 21:57
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Isn't this already done? example self answer. The box is a different shade than a non self answer (which isn't shown in the example) –  FDinoff Aug 12 '13 at 21:58
    
You're right. I guess this is redundant. Maybe there should be a different emphasis? –  JoshDM Aug 12 '13 at 22:00
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I have altered the terms of the question; pray I do not alter it further. –  JoshDM Aug 12 '13 at 22:02
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+1 for the unicorn. It would be very clear. –  Adam Maras Aug 12 '13 at 22:35
    
What, again? two times wasn't enough, I guess. –  Robert Harvey Aug 12 '13 at 22:41
    
Well, it's not just for THAT GUY, Rob. –  JoshDM Aug 12 '13 at 22:42
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The answer was flagged because it wasn't a good answer, not because of any mistaken identity. –  Robert Harvey Aug 12 '13 at 22:42
    
As I noted there though, I think they'd have thought twice if they did realize he was the poster, and I suspect a comment or two (of the kind that I did leave on his answer) would have gone a long way. Knowing it was the author might have made them request he embellish rather than flat out flag it as a newbie's LQ answer. –  JoshDM Aug 12 '13 at 22:43
    
@JoshDM Your comment did indeed help, but I'm not sure what that has to do with the OP's identity. If anything, I think that might actually have contributed to downvotes from users that are still under the impression that answering your own question is wrong. The answer is either a good one or a bad one, whether the question it is answering is by the same person shouldn't matter, and should consequently not be emphasised. –  Asad Aug 13 '13 at 1:42
    
@Asad - It has everything to do with identity. Joe New User who leaves a poor answer to someone's question has no true investment in the answer. Original Poster who leaves a poor answer to his own question has an investment in the answer; by the community deleting his answer, it shows the community has rejected him. As the OP, he should instead have been encouraged to provide a more elaborate answer via a comment on the question itself, not through the negative channels of deletion notice. –  JoshDM Aug 13 '13 at 14:59
    
I think opposite is kinda true - if OP provides answer, question should not be asked due to "lack of research effort" or "minimal understanding". And that's the only case when user identities should matter when reviewing posts. –  Mołot Sep 12 '13 at 9:39
    
@Molot - he provided the answer well after the question was asked because he figured it out in some fashion. –  JoshDM Sep 12 '13 at 16:24

1 Answer 1

TL;DR: No. This answer is bad and deserves the same treatment as all other bad answers, regardless of who posted it.

His answer probably would not have been deleted had the reviewers realized the answerer was also the question author.

I have no idea why you think this is the case.

I took what I think is appropriate action against that answer after reading the Meta post by the author. I didn't see it in a review queue, and I was fully aware of who posted it. In fact, I think the identity of the answerer is all quite irrelevant.

Answers should be evaluated on their own merits, not based on who posted them. This is just an extension of the more general rule that we evaluate content, not people.

I won't single out anyone here, but there are some individuals on Stack Overflow who have developed quite a powerful reputation for providing excellent answers to questions. But if they posted a one-sentence non-answer, I would downvote it, flag it as "not an answer", and vote to delete it. Period. Neither reputation score, nor being the author of the question, gives you an excuse to post poor quality content in the answer box. If you don't have an answer, leave a comment.

The only reason I could possibly imagine why you would grant the asker of the question more leeway in posting a low-quality, unhelpful answer is if you think the purpose of the site is to help the asker find the answer to their question. With this logic, anything that the asker posts as an answer is a priori "good enough" because they clearly found it helpful in answering their question. Unfortunately, that logic is wrong. The purpose of Stack Overflow is to build up a database of high-quality expert answers to a diverse array of programming problems. It is more important that the answer is useful to other people who may come across the question than it is that it narrowly satisfies the criteria of the asker.

This is reflected in the reputation system. You get 10 reputation points for each upvote, and votes are effectively unlimited. A good answer can easily fetch you 10 upvotes, which is a net reputation of 100. Contrast that with acceptance by the asker, which gets you only 15 reputation points and can only occur once. 15 is more than 10, because it is worth more to solve the asker's problem and get the checkmark than to simply post an answer meriting an upvote. But it is worth far more to post an answer valuable to large numbers of people than it is to post an answer that is merely considered useful by the asker.

Had the reviewers known it was the author, and recognizing the author posted a low quality answer, I suspect the reviewer(s) would have been more apt to place a comment requesting clarification / enhancement rather than flag it for low quality and/or deletion. As it stands, seeing a short answer with poor grammar from a low reputation user immediately kicks in the "flag for deletion" instinct. Knowing it is the question author creates a cause for pause during review.

Meh.

I mean, I guess. I don't really know that it is our job to hold the hands of everyone who posts bad content to the site. Again, it is not relevant that the person has a low reputation score. The point is that the answer is not actually an answer. It is not useful, incomplete, and of generally poor quality.

Someone might have felt compelled to leave a comment encouraging the person to improve his/her answer, but they would have been equally justified in taking action to remove the answer. It does not meet our standards for an acceptable answer, and fits quite well with our reasons why some answers are deleted. This one in particular fits well:

  • not even a partial answer to the actual question

It is not, of course. It doesn't even say what the heck "Listvars" is, much less how to use it, how it solves this problem, or anything else you would expect out of an answer.

If the person who posted the answer feels really strongly about it, they could always edit the answer to improve it, then flag it for undeletion. In the meantime, there is no reason to have noise like this cluttering up the site. The question has already received a quality answer; leaving this one just detracts from the useful information.

I believe the current use of identical highlight as the OP is insufficient, and the addition of a word or other identifier to the user summarization rectangle (Avatar, Name, Reputation, Badges, Timestamp) would help prevent mis-identification in the future.

I disagree. Like I said above, answers (and questions) should not be evaluated based wholly or in part on who posted them. They should stand on their own merits, and be evaluated independently.

There is a stronger argument to be made for removing all user-identifying information from review queues. Not adding more of it.

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Flagging for deletion the answers of a new user, which is obvious by the reputation, works as the user has no other investment in the question. In this case, the new user is also the OP of the question. By deleting his answer, you've created a negative communal situation; the user will revisit and note he has been rejected. Why would he want to be part of StackOverflow if he's been summarily dismissed? Voting regardless, the post should have had a comment left on it to encourage elaboration. –  JoshDM Aug 13 '13 at 14:56
    
@JoshDM Yes, but leaving a comment on salvageable answer should always be encouraged over deletion, without considering if the author is also the asker. Someone who had the same problem and attempted to share how they solved it will probably feel just as upset and rejected if their answer is deleted due to quality issues. That isn't exclusive to self answerers. –  Asad Aug 13 '13 at 16:34
    
@Asad - When considering a self-answerer, the answerer has an investment in the question and therefore the answer to it, more-so than anyone else, since he was the one who asked the question in the first place. The same sort of investment can't be found in any given answer from an arbitrary user. –  JoshDM Aug 13 '13 at 17:20
    
I don't buy that. If they were really invested in it, they would post a decent answer. Keep in mind that the question is not removed, just the non-answer. My point is that everything should be subject to the same guidelines. You don't get a free pass on deletion just because you asked the question you're answering. –  Cody Gray Aug 14 '13 at 5:03

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