If we're implementing this feature, why don't we also require that users have at least 1.5 times the amount of reputation needed to ask their current question in order to answer their current question?

I believe this would really reduce the amount of non-answers that should have been edits to the original question, or perhaps a comment under another answer.


Inspired by marcog's excellent suggestion under Jeff's answer, perhaps it would make more sense to set a minimum amount of time that must pass before you can answer your own question. New users would need to wait in the neighborhood of six hours, while users with more reputation could answer their own question within minutes if they discovered the solution on their own.

This would get in the way of the behavior that we don't want, which is people posting answers that should have been edits while not annoying most.

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Ooh, that's a bit too complicated for me :) Isn't answers-as-edits more of a newbie problem? –  Benjol Apr 6 '11 at 8:38
@Benjol - Yes, this is intended to help prevent one of the most typical newbie problems we have (and save a lot of work for moderators). –  Tim Post Apr 6 '11 at 8:49
My upvote here for the time delay version. –  dmckee Apr 6 '11 at 14:27
@ben see what you think of the revised solution –  Jeff Atwood Apr 9 '11 at 21:34
@Jeff, looks good to me. I must say sometimes - rarely - I post questions and answers immediately, just in case it's useful to somebody else, but that's an age case - even more so for a newbie user. –  Benjol Apr 10 '11 at 7:47
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4 Answers

up vote 22 down vote accepted

Regarding your original suggestion: it's a good idea and I was inclined to implement it (I think we've thought of this before, but I can't remember when), but there is one major downside:

It would prevent new users from posting legitimate self-answers when they solve their own problems.

Yes, this is not particularly common, but it's a lot of collateral damage – I find the users who are willing to research and post a solution to their own problem are typically very good users.

Regarding your edit: with the added element of time, I think this is workable. So we are implementing the following:

  • if you are a user with < 100 rep
  • if you attempt to answer your own question within 8 hours of posting it

... you will get the returned message:

Users with less than 100 reputation can't answer their own question for 8 hours. Please use comments, or edit your question instead.

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How about letting them answer, but send their answers to suggested list first? –  YOU Apr 6 '11 at 8:44
@Jeff - what if this part of the restriction went away, after say ... 300 reputation? It more or less just ensures that people know how the system works before making one of the most common mistakes that new users make. I think of it more like 'training wheels' than an actual restriction. –  Tim Post Apr 6 '11 at 8:48
Would it help allowing self-answers after say 6 hours, regardless of this restriction? –  marcog Apr 6 '11 at 9:30
@marcog an excellent suggestion, that might work –  Jeff Atwood Apr 6 '11 at 9:40
@marcog - I think the two ideas could be combined. Users with higher reputation could self answer faster than new users. –  Tim Post Apr 6 '11 at 10:00
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How about just adding "answers to own quesions" from low rep users to the review tab? Then let the flagging and voting system sort them out.

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Sometimes, especially in the case of unregistered users - people just lose their cookies and need to have accounts merged (thus end up posting non-answers as the 'edit' link no longer works).. that needs to show up in the moderation queue. Moving it to suggested edits might conceal those kinds of issues. –  Tim Post Apr 6 '11 at 10:06
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I had a question up for quite a while and never received an answer but found one myself. I thought of closing the question but after asking Meta I was told to answer my own question so that others could use it in the future. I think this is a good idea. After all, we're all here to learn.

But as you can tell from my reputation points I haven't been around for very long and don't know much about the system.

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Having a too high barrier for answering the own question will result in people either not answering at all or just posting a comment of "I figured it out", which is not desirable as well.

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well, that user took ~4 hours to figure it out. Maybe we can reduce the "can't self answer" to at least that? I'll turn it down to 8 hours for now. –  Jeff Atwood Apr 17 '11 at 8:28
errr.. ironically, that user HAS enough reputation to self-answer any time, at 100 rep. So this limit did not affect them. Still, I am open to reducing it to 8 hours just in case. –  Jeff Atwood Apr 17 '11 at 8:30
I was not referring to that concrete user, but rather to the general case that blocking self-answering may contradict the wish to have users not go away with a comment only. –  Heiko Rupp Apr 17 '11 at 8:43
perhaps, but that has to be balanced with the wish to not have newbie users fill the site with a lot of "answers" that are nothing but. –  Jeff Atwood Apr 17 '11 at 8:46
Of course and I am totally in favor of reducing the non-answers. As you say it has to be balanced. –  Heiko Rupp Apr 17 '11 at 16:35
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