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One of my recently posted questions attracted a lot of interest and had a 500 point bounty attached to it. As I'm fairly new to SO and never had a question attract much interest (usually I end up answering my own question some time later when I get it working or a work around) I'm not sure of the protocol for selecting answers.

There were a number of helpful posts including one quite detailed. After a couple of days I found a solution to my problem and posted the answer and code (GIST) and selected that as the answer. It seems its not the done thing on SO to answer your own questions and folks are sensitive to it when a large bounty is involved. I got downvoted several times and one helpful chap got me into a chat room to explain the protocol of comments and answers on SO. Although I thought that it was counter-intuitive not to mark the working solution as an answer (especially for future reference), I was willing to go with the community approach and I deselected my answer and selected the answer that provided more background but didn't have the solution.

I though it was done and a lesson for me not to answer my own questions, however the bounty owner recently posted back that he expected working code and my answer is the right one, encouraging me to raise it with mods. The bounty owner specified a working solution as a requirement and I was the only one to provide working code. At this stage I have left the other answer as the tagged answer.

I really don't want to cause a fuss, I enjoy using this site as it is extremely helpful (I wish we had something like this when I was a full time prog years back....) but given the back on forth on this question I though I'd post here to help me determine how to handle better next time. I'm not interested in the bounty BTW.

Best approach to real time http streaming to HTML5 video client

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It is really up to you and the bounty owner to accept and award the bounty to which ever answer you find most helpful. –  user246806 Mar 4 at 10:06
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This is exactly how it is supposed to work. Your answer was not very good and somebody else was unhappy with it and posted a big bounty on the question to try to get a better answer to the question. That worked. No reason whatsoever to regret what happened. Getting flak about the accepted answer was not exactly necessary, just keep in mind that SO users do care a lot about good answers. –  Uphill Luge Mar 4 at 10:18
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I posted my answer after the bounty was attached. The bounty owner preferred my answer. –  deandob Mar 4 at 10:20
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The bounty was awarded automatically to the answer you accepted. The user who started the bounty could have awarded it manually to any other answer, including yours. Nothing anyone can do now, not even a moderator. In the future, just don't accept answer until you're sure it's really correct, if you want to avoid the auto bounty awarding. And even better, comment to the user who started the bounty and direct him if you have specific answer you think is worthy of the bounty. –  Shadow Wizard Mar 4 at 10:30
    
Good pointers for next time, thanks for the guidance. –  deandob Mar 4 at 10:36
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@ShadowWizard that would be a bug, no? If the bounty was started by the question owner, and the question owner accepts an answer posted during the bounty period, and the bounty expires without an explicit award then we assume the bounty owner liked the answer they accepted and award it the full bounty amount at the time of bounty expiration. The question owner was not the person who started the bounty here. –  Stijn Mar 4 at 10:37
    
If your question's answer generates that much debate/uncertainty, it probably should not be on SO. –  Jason C Mar 4 at 10:50
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The answer which you have selected lead you to fix your code. Though the user didn't give any code, still it is good answer. So it worth for bounty. –  Praveen Mar 4 at 11:22

1 Answer 1

up vote 5 down vote accepted

I'm Grace Note, a Stack Exchange Community Manager.

Let's start things off - there's nothing inherently wrong with answering your own questions. What is important is if the self-answer gives a perspective of a different level of validity - if it's just matching what's around that'd be bad, but if it is its own answer, that the question asker is the one providing it isn't relevant. At the end of the day, our goal as a community is to be a resource of information, and if the question asker can provide that information, that's perfectly fine.

We can talk about the etiquette of giving people chances to answer, and about the competitive nature of reputation, but at the end of the day what is important is the presence of knowledge and who it helps. And acceptance is a choice that belongs to the asker.

No one needs to agree with the asker though. People are equally entitled to like other answers more. That's why we have acceptance and voting as separate constructs. Voting scores represent what the community feels about the quality and usefulness of answers, while acceptance indicates what worked for the author of the question. Let the votes of the community indicate the greater course of the matter.

So how to handle this in the future? Go with your own instincts. Acceptance is yours to give, just like your votes are yours to give. If you ask a question, and the existing answers you get are unsatisfactory to you, and if you end up going out of your way to do extra research and end up solving the problem for yourself in ways not specified in the existing answers, that is exactly the kind of scenario that benefits from a self-answer. Which one you accept, though, that's your choice - do you think that your own solution is the key, or do you find that the information that was provided by the other answer, which may've guided you to the solution, is the one that really is the critical component? That's your choice to which you accept.

If you receive downvotes for self-answering and/or self-acceptance, and it's clear that these downvotes do not have to do with the quality and usefulness of your post, but because people are angry about the concept of the self-answer/self-acceptance, then feel free to point out this post to them. And if it persists and seems vindictive, one can reach us at the "contact us" form at the bottom of every page and we can investigate whether or not there is indeed something malign happening.


The bounty is a separate issue, but not one that is under your control. The person who placed the bounty had every opportunity to award the bounty to your answer instead of the one you had accepted, and if they wanted to give you the bounty then it was in their court to do so. Any influence you have on the destination of the bounty is dependent entirely on their choice not to award it manually.

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Grace Note, thanks for the clarification and especially the points about it being OK to self-answer (the posters, chat & downvotes from the original question led me to believe I was doing the wrong thing). I did the extra research and found the answer on my own, the other answers didn't really help (but still appreciated). –  deandob Mar 4 at 21:20

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