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In light of It's ok to ask and answer your own questions, it seems that we ought to be able to accept our own answers within the same time limits as accepting someone else's answer.

Of course, this notion has been discussed here before (when times were different, mind you):

The crux of the blog post was that it's not only acceptable but encouraged to accept your own answer when you find your own solution.

I can accept someone else's answer to my question in as little as 15 minutes, surely I should be able to accept my own answer. I have no rep to gain from this, and the community is better off knowing that there's a solution to my problem or answer to my question.

If there's concern about lots of spam here, perhaps this can be a privileged operation, say with 5k rep you can accept your own answers as if they were someone else's answer.

One alternative to rep limits would be if previously self-accepted answers (and/or questions with self-accepted answers) have received upvotes, indicating a user is capable of asking and answering their own questions to the satisfaction of the community.


The rationale for my complaint is that lately I've been asking extremely long-tail questions for low-use frameworks/libraries on the site and receive not only low views but no comments or other answers. This leaves me searching for my own solutions, so when I find them I write up reasonable answers that add value to the site (that make the web a better place) and that ultimately I shouldn't have to manage any differently than any of my other questions.

At the time of posting, my last asked-and-answered question had 7 views and hits #1 on Google for a general query

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If you can answer it yourself within 15 minutes, perhaps you shouldn't ask it? Otherwise just add your answer and wait to see if something else comes up. –  Bo Persson Jul 4 '11 at 18:49
    
@BoPersson: If you can answer it yourself within 15 minutes, perhaps you shouldn't ask it? - Are you saying stackoverflow is wrong to explicitly encourage users to ask and answer their own questions? –  Steve Taylor Jun 2 '12 at 5:36
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@Steve - This was written a year ago, when some of us were pested by people writing up horrendously long "FAQ answers" to questions that nobody had ever asked. So they had to invent questions just to be able to post the answers they had already written. This blog style of posting is not encouraged. I had to add some tags to my ignore list, just to find some real questions to answer. –  Bo Persson Jun 2 '12 at 8:58

4 Answers 4

It seems that it is obvious you didn't read this answer :

This gives other users a chance to answer the question in good faith, and earn the accepted answer

Looking at the bright side - you got a chance for the tumbleweed badge.

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Circumstances have changed from when Jeff wrote that answer, and as I mentioned times are different. –  Mark Elliot Jul 4 '11 at 21:14
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@Mark: What circumstances have changed? –  Robert Harvey Jul 5 '11 at 4:27
    
I think this does more damage than good. You trade this concept of "good faith" for questions without accepted answers. The bad thing? The question-asker wanted to accept an answer but was prevented from it. –  user133440 Jan 4 '12 at 23:02
    
@hamlin11 I always wait few days before accepting the answer (unless I get a really good). Why do you think that you might know the best? There are people out there that might give a better answer then your. –  BЈовић Jan 5 '12 at 6:19
    
Sometimes there is only one answer, sometimes there is multiple. When there is only one, it's just wasting my time to put this dumb constraint in the system. Hey, I have a great idea, let the question-author decide?!? –  user133440 Jan 5 '12 at 15:34
    
And by the way, I almost ALWAYS wait quite a while to accept any answer just to give a chance for improvement; however, it's hard for me to overstate how annoying it is when there is a perfect answer sitting right in front of me and I can't accept it. –  user133440 Jan 5 '12 at 15:35

Users who ask questions are in the best position to answer them because they have already researched the problem and understand the relevant issues. They have direct experience and background information. They have a head start on all other answerers! They can also "read the mind of the asker."

The purpose of marking an answer as correct is to let other users know which answer the original poster found most helpful. When you have answered your own question and there are no other answers, it is plainly obvious that the answer provided is the best answer you have received so far.

If the question is in a low-view area or requires specialized expertise, that is yet another reason to wait patiently to see if anyone else can come up with an alternate solution. On the other hand, if the question is easily answered with a few minutes of research, the answer is still useful but one the asker didn't really need the collective resources of Stack Overflow to solve.

Taking all these factors into account, I still think it is fair to slightly "handicap" the asker when self-accepting an answer. Don't think of it as a privilege that has been revoked so much as an extra responsibility that the asker implicitly takes on when asking a question.

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I'm asking for equal treatment of any answer. After having researched a subject for a couple of days and finally posting a generalized question, I don't just stop looking for an answer, I continue to experiment (sometimes I find an answer within 15 minutes, sometimes not). It's bold to expect the community to come through. By your logic, I should just delete my question, close up shop, and leave the web worse in that I found an answer to a difficult question. It's unreasonable to treat someone else's answer differently, if 48 hours is needed, shouldn't that be the limit for everyone? –  Mark Elliot Jul 4 '11 at 21:19
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@Mark: All we're talking about here is the accepted answer check mark. You can answer immediately. Voting treats all answers equally. The only asymmetry is is the asker's relationship to the accepted answer check mark. Of course I don't think you should delete the question; I specifically said "the answer is still useful." It is in your benefit not to accept an answer early because that usually stops any further answers. It's a check mark that says the asker is finished with this question. Any answer worth it's salt is useful immediately. –  Rick Sladkey Jul 4 '11 at 22:34

I can think of a couple of possibilities:

  1. Relax the time delay for users over 10K reputation, and/or
  2. Relax the time delay for self-answers that have 2 or more upvotes.

Beyond that, it's simple enough to wait out the 2 days for posting an answer.

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Precisely, high-rep users are likely to have conducted long research, and are more likely to be providing both high quality questions and high quality answers. Long-research plays in that when a solution is found (be it within an hour or not) and written up, it's likely to be the canonical answer. –  Mark Elliot Jul 4 '11 at 21:22

In general, I don't know what I don't know. Two days seems a reasonable wait to learn how my own answer could be improved. The only reason to accept my own answer, eventually, is to keep my accept rate off the floor.

My sample size (n = 2) is small, but I've had positive feedback. In one case, I even accepted a suggested improvement. At the same time, I relished awarding 17 points with one click, +15 for the answerer and +2 for me.

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