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I'll ask a question, then keep tinkering, and realize...

  1. ...what the answer is, OR
  2. ...that what I was trying to do is unworkable for 100 different reasons.

What's correct etiquette in these cases? Some people may have tried to answer, but I've realized I'm asking the impossible.

Example:

http://stackoverflow.com/questions/4540458/can-a-control-blindly-proxy-another-url-including-postback

Read the comments under the first answer.

Do I answer my own question, explain my reasons and why I was an idiot for asking, then select my answer as the correct one?

Do I just provide an edit in the original question?

I would love to just delete the question, but people have provided answers, and I would have to have people vote to delete or close, which seems inherently complicated/asynchronous.

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When I end up stuck here, I fix my question. Fixing the question means making it useful to other people. Of course, for your question-in-question, I really don't see how it could be saved. I'd be tempted to delete my own question. CHances of someone googling that set of words together? Zero? –  Warren in Toronto Jan 24 '13 at 20:44

4 Answers 4

Once I was in the same situation with you. Here's what I think:

  1. If you know what the answer is, you can (and should) answer your own question. You may accept your own answer after 2 days. There's also a badge for self-answered question (self-learner).

  2. In my view, I think in this situation you should update your question to point out that why it won't work. It may be helpful for others. Also, you may leave an answer and accept it (only for the accepting rate sake), if you think that may help others from the same mistake.

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Yes you can answer your own question and are able to accept it after 2 days.

It is still useful to leave the Q&A up, in part because someone else might offer an even better answer.

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One more option is to accept the contribution from the answerer who put the most effort into it, and explaining in a comment why this was a non-question after all. That way, you make a nice gesture towards the answerer (it's the gesture rather than the rep points that really counts to most), and still provide correct information for future generations.

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I think it's useful to indicate that you've realized it's impossible in an answer, because other people might find that question thinking that they are also able capable of the impossible, and your post could help them realize the error of their ways.

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