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Is there a way to write Q&A so it don't bother users whom don't faced the problem, and only for users whom really suffer from the problem?

As SO FAQ says its fine to answer your own question. But if you write the solution as a question, which is understandable by ones whom faced the problem and the answer for the problem in a post, then other user, which didn't faced the problem, complain that the question is not complete as they cannot understand how to reproduce the situation.

Sometimes you find a nontrivial solution for some problem and you want to share it on SO as it really may be of interest for others whom faced with the same.

Ex: You have made a lot of changes to some library and gcc gives you some errors. You have found the solution to this problem, but you don't know which of your changes were reasons for the problem.

I know there is a human factor. I just want to contribute and I don't want to "socialize" here. I can support my solution for users who suffer from problem, but not for a clot of spectators who don't want to get bored.

Answer: After spending time examining other posts related to the subject, I can conclude that the idea of self-answering posts "just to share solution for ones who need help" fits SO idea of "With your help, we can build good answers to every imaginable programming question together". But community doesn't accept such posts as there is no fun in such posts.

My own post (which I deleted due to "peer pressure") had something like +4 -9 votes in a day. So if read it directly 4 found it useful and voted up, but 9 found it useless and voted it down. It wasn't misinformation, it wasn't useless for ones who need help - it was not understandable for others.

There is uselessly to struggle with majority. Even I made it CW my reps still falling. However some tips extracted from other posts:

  • you can skip falling your reps (I hope I wouldn't banned from site and however you can earn some reps by other ways)
  • you can follow procedure - "post Question" ... "wait" ... "wait more" ... "voila! you "luckily" found answer" from Peter Mortensen answer in post (Posting and answering questions you have already found the answer to). I know its a bit stupid, but I think I will use it in future to save my nerve cells
  • make some short directions in question body how to reproduce the situation. I think that it can defend your questions against "just spectators"

and use these tips only for "complete solutions" answers, not ones that probably really need discussion. Then it is reasonable to write detailed context to save time for ones to whom you appeal for help.

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4 Answers 4

up vote 2 down vote accepted

Two things spring to mind:

Firstly, try and phrase the question as though you haven't already solved the problem. Describe the symptoms and some of the steps you've already taken to solve it. Don't necessarily mention that you already have a solution, unless you're after a better solution.

Secondly, if you don't mention the solution in the question wait a few hours, or even a day or two before answering. This way people will assume that you were still working on the solution (which is a good thing).

It's not foolproof, but it might help.

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The question was in that form "Why ... happens?" And the symptoms were described (they are simple). But my goal how can I share my answers to question w/o write "steps I've taken", "my thoughts" and so on. Its about to help people whom suffer from the problem , not about reps (i don't need it, at least on SO). –  outmind Jun 7 '10 at 12:50
@outmind - avoid discursive phrases - "my thoughts" would be one that would flag up a problem with the post for example. –  ChrisF Jun 7 '10 at 13:29
I meant that I don't want write redundant text for ones whom ever aren't related to the problem. –  outmind Jun 8 '10 at 17:42
@outmind - I know the question you're referring to and I understand why it and the answer were downvoted. You were too terse - it was as if you were writing a note to yourself. While it's useful to you it wouldn't necessarily help anyone else. –  ChrisF Jun 8 '10 at 18:11
I agree that it was too terse. And when negative reaction started I didn't change it only due to understand what was wrong. The easiest way for me would be to delete it and forget it as I don't need any reps. But I remembered my feelings when I faced the "stupid" problem - you do all steps as in book and you get something different without any tips why. So you know - I'm going to reenter this question later with the help of some new exp I've got here and there. –  outmind Jun 8 '10 at 18:24
Moreover to proof you are wrong about "it wouldn't necessarily help anyone else" just ensure that "org.eclipse.net4j.examples" plug-in is installed in your Eclipse. Then open "Help -> Help contents", and follow "Plug-in Development Environment Guide"/"PDE Overview" > "Creating an Eclipse Plug-in" cheet sheet. After that tell me that my answer is useless. The probable keywords for this problem would be "eclipse helloworld plug-ing Net4j example sampleview". Any combinations of this words gives you my help in SO. –  outmind Jun 8 '10 at 18:33
I mean gave as now my post is deleted. And I can easily avoid it as know about identification and so on (but need to search through all of my eclipse plugins to find replication of the ID for menu). But novice will stare at it with WT. thoughts. –  outmind Jun 8 '10 at 18:37

If you want to point out a nice technical point, then why not blog it instead of using a question and answer site where most people assume that a question is being asked because the questioner does not know the answer? And if the question subsequently does arise on SO then answer with a quote and a link to your blog?

I know the FAQ states that answering your own questions is OK

It's also perfectly fine to ask and answer your own question, but pretend you're on Jeopardy: phrase it in the form of a question.

... but the guidelines on answering in the FAQ kind of assumes that someone else is answering (it shows other people that you're getting value from the community).

When you have decided which answer is the most helpful to you, mark it as the accepted answer by clicking on the check box outline to the left of the answer. This lets other people know that you have received a good answer to your question. Doing this is helpful because it shows other people that you're getting value from the community.

Logically, if a user asked 10 questions and self-answered all ten marking them as 'the most helpful answer to you' then people would stop responding to that users questions on the basis that 'they also know the answer, they will self-answer soon, so there is no point in me responding'. So repeated self-answering quickly becomes tumbleweed and should, therefore, be a real exception to the rule.

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I would not agree. Please check. meta.stackexchange.com/questions/2706/… meta.stackexchange.com/questions/12513/… meta.stackexchange.com/questions/17463/… and others. Q&A sites are not about talking, its about to create community driven Q&A database. –  outmind Jun 7 '10 at 20:24
Users want to get value from the community otherwise they will grow bored and leave. If SO was merely a community driven Q&A database it would not still be growing. The are other, more subtle dynamics at work. –  amelvin Jun 8 '10 at 10:37

It is completely fine to answer your own question - encouraged, in fact, since there's even a badge for it (if the answer gets enough upvotes).

However, that doesn't excuse you from your responsibility to make the question a question. A good technical question, like a good bug report, should be specific and reproducible, otherwise it's not really helpful to anybody.

(A possible exception might be an intermittent problem in a known product like Visual Studio. In which case, explain this so people know that you aren't just being vague.)

See also: Can I post tips instead of questions?

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Thank you for link - it's completed the "picture". –  outmind Jun 8 '10 at 18:58

Is there a way to write Q&A so it don't bother users whom don't faced the problem, and only for users whom really suffer from the problem?

What if the users who aren't suffering from it aren't suffering because they know more about it than you do, and are thus able to both avoid it themselves and explain the problem to others?

You appear to be asking for advice on leading the blind, as a blind man yourself. That's not necessarily a great idea...

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There are lot of people know more then I do in every area you choose. And the same with an every man on the planet. I don't care about people who knows how to avoid the problem - you are right. Because they don't need such help. –  outmind Jun 8 '10 at 17:41
@outmind: but if they're willing to share their expertise with you, why would you turn your nose up at it? BTW: I assume you're talking about the C++ question regarding the return value of assignment operators... If so, kudos on correctly identifying a scenario that does require a non-constant reference, it's a good start. But it's hardly the best answer, and it makes me sad that you would disparage the others who took the time to respond. –  Shogging through the snow Jun 8 '10 at 17:56
1) I'm not talking about C++ question you mentioned. I got the very nice responses and happy with them. And I voted up all answers I think related and helpful. So there is no need to assign your guesses to me and be sad about it. 2) The kind of questions I'm talking about don't assume any further expertise as it is simple solved questions. So we are talking about different kind of question. And thanks for "leading the blind, as a blind man yourself" and "nose up at it" phrases - very poetic. –  outmind Jun 8 '10 at 19:12
@outmind: in that case, I have no way of knowing what you're talking about. As others have noted, it's perfectly acceptable to answer your own question, but there's no way to "protect" your question if others wish to answer/comment on/vote on/edit it - nor should there be: this isn't a personal blog, it's public and open to all. –  Shogging through the snow Jun 8 '10 at 19:22
If we consider SO as social phenomena than there are both good and bad factors there. So I'm wondering how to protect from bad ones. –  outmind Jun 8 '10 at 19:27
@outmind: Yeah, I'm still not really clear on what you consider "bad". Again, commenting, voting, answering, etc. are all key parts of the site - allowing users to opt-out or limit who can participate kinda defeats the whole purpose of SO. –  Shogging through the snow Jun 8 '10 at 19:40
You interpret my words in your own way. My goal is not limiting anyone ability and I'm not sure that the whole purpose of SO is in commenting and especially voting. They are just tools. My goal is to allow not only "discussion" questions, but simple "ready" solutions to solve problems not to discuss something. And please refresh SO faq, about and my question body to be sure that we are talking about the same. –  outmind Jun 8 '10 at 20:57
I have a lot of questions I would like to discuss. I like to hear other opinions, to have questions voted to select important and reliable ones. But sometimes you just know how to solve it. Simple small Q - simple small A. Click-clack. Set this flag. That's all. Nothing to discuss, but can be a headache for someone. –  outmind Jun 8 '10 at 21:05
@outmind: Nothing in the SO system prevents you from doing what you just described... but ok, look - I'm not interested in continuing this vague discussion, wherein I try to guess at what you're asking and you assert that you want something else entirely without bothering to specify what. Post an example of what you're trying to do, and post some examples of what you're trying to avoid, or are finding unpleasant. –  Shogging through the snow Jun 8 '10 at 21:17
I propose the next thing - as all we write here is something based on misunderstanding, then it is not related to the question. So we can delete our discussion and move our talk to skype or mail or whatever? Then we free others from reading our "tit for tat" talk. –  outmind Jun 8 '10 at 22:55

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