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Sometimes I'll encounter problems while coding, or sometimes out of simple interest for a question, I'll google for an answer, and most of the time I find that answer is here on stackoverflow.com.

If I can't find an answer, or if it's not enough to satisfy my curiosity, sometimes I expend my own effort to solve those questions. And after I've solved it, I'm happy to make my contribution to the community, and I post them as the Q&A style posts. For example:

How to find the minimum covariant type for best fit between two types?

It seems relatively easier to ask a question if I didn't already have a solution, and I can put what I have so far in the question body, such as:

Just when is a stackoverflow fair and sensible?

The problem to me is, if I have my own solution to my own question, then most of what I have so far becomes part of the solution. It's likely I have failed in making my contribution by asking a question to which I have an answer, for example:

How to calculate the digit products of the consecutive numbers efficiently?

So I'm wondering if there are some guidelines or good practices for Q&A style posts?

How do I do it better?

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    Hi Ken Kin. Please don't take this the wrong way but I really don't understand the anguish you continually display over Stack Overflow. You have been very successful with your questions, one of those you link to has 17 upvotes and your answer 22. Your English has improved so much since you first started posting and by any reasonable measure you've been successful. You have deleted very good questions and then undeleted them when asked why; then deleted them again. You've asked innumerable meta questions, and then deleted them, then... etc. Commented Jul 13, 2013 at 11:39
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    Your last linked question, just isn't up to the same standard, you've fallen into the common self-answer trap of having a poor question with a good answer. You're trying to learn, and that's good but you only need to look at your other self-answers for the good practice you request. Make your question a proper question, one that stands on its own, without your answer, and you'll be successful. Commented Jul 13, 2013 at 11:40
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    @benisuǝqbackwards Copy paste those two comments and you've got the makings of an answer. And from what I'm seeing, it's an answer that's just the ticket.
    – Caleb
    Commented Jul 13, 2013 at 17:03
  • @benisuǝqbackwards: Thank you very much. I've tried to improve it, but not sure if it's really improved now. I'm still looking for some general guidelines which I can follow in the future.
    – Ken Kin
    Commented Jul 15, 2013 at 11:42
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    @KenKin English is tricky, especially if you're not coming from a related language! My mum is Finnish, has lived in Canada and spoken English for years, and she still has a tricky time with grammatical articles and particles, especially when writing. I hope you take my edit constructively, because really, you've already got a great grasp! On Stack Overflow particularly, try to avoid putting too much content into a single question - it should be easy to pick out a single question that takes a single answer!
    – Hannele
    Commented Jul 17, 2013 at 0:36
  • @Hannele: Thanks for revising, but the sentence If it wasn't correct is not what I mean. What I want to say is, if there wasn't an answer. If you are going to revise again, I'll approve it.
    – Ken Kin
    Commented Jul 17, 2013 at 0:38
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    @KenKin Not a problem! Thanks for clarifying.
    – Hannele
    Commented Jul 17, 2013 at 0:44
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    I see what you did with the title, Ken Kin. Commented Jul 17, 2013 at 1:47
  • @doubleDown: It's the only reason this question is getting upvotes instead of downvotes, which is usually what happens when these kinds of questions are asked.
    – user102937
    Commented Jul 17, 2013 at 1:55
  • @doubleDown: Do you mean the title of this question? Or of the SO question? Both are revised.
    – Ken Kin
    Commented Jul 17, 2013 at 2:17
  • @KenKin, haha I just mean that I recognized the meme. Commented Jul 17, 2013 at 2:18
  • @doubleDown: Oh .. yep, the original is just another one, but I think this is more clear to the question.
    – Ken Kin
    Commented Jul 17, 2013 at 2:22

3 Answers 3

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+100

OK, I'll admit: I suffer from a mild self-answer angst.

Is it worthy to post this at the Stack?
                                    Or shall I write a blog post?

earless van gogh with a banana
 National Lampoon, Oct 1973 - Banana Issue, Von Gogh's Ear

After reading past discussions, I think the great risk is to write a Gimme teh codez Question. And the closing reason for it summarizes what we have to do to make it as good as the Answer:

Questions asking for code must demonstrate a minimal understanding of the problem being solved. Include attempted solutions, why they didn't work, and the expected results.

###Collection of advices in related posts to boost you self-Q&A ability

"there's no way a self-answer should make it immune to the regular standards we have for all incoming questions".

Absolutely, that is one of the design goals for the site: to be a frictionless technical mini-blog where you get reputation for your hard work.
Since May 2012, you can even write your answer before posting the question: see What is this "answer your own question" jazz? here on Meta, and Encyclopedia Stack Exchange on the blog.

That's why the self-answered question needs to be very clear in explaining that "hey, I looked everywhere, here is my research, I couldn't find anything". The point of the system is to help others, and yourself, but you must put helping others before helping yourself. It's not complicated: search first. Share your research.

This is a thin line. On one side, Jeff is quite clear: If it's helpful to at least one other developer, it should be here. It also creates good Content, and Content is the #1 priority for a site.
On the other hand, "spamming" the site and turning it into just another Code Snippet site is what some users (including me) do not seem to want.

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  • Thank you. This is indeed the guideline, but for the bullet points which use a question title, would you consider some simple summary or digest? I guess it would be much clear to see your point with that ..
    – Ken Kin
    Commented Jul 23, 2013 at 12:48
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    Yes, agreed, after posting and reading I felt the same... Will try to improve at night.
    – brasofilo
    Commented Jul 23, 2013 at 15:39
  • As you are going to improve the answer, I'm accepting it now, and to see the revision later. Thank you.
    – Ken Kin
    Commented Jul 24, 2013 at 10:59
  • @KenKin, sorry, couldn't revise this yet and for the next days I won't be able to give the attention the topic deserves. But, for sure, I'll be back to it.
    – brasofilo
    Commented Jul 25, 2013 at 10:31
  • For posterity: The "minimal understanding" close reason no longer exists. Also, a related discussion on whether / how much research effort to indicate in self-answered questions: Is a short description of a question OK if self-answering?
    – starball
    Commented Jan 4, 2023 at 10:11
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Euler projects are like homework. Using somebody else's answer completely defeats the point of spending time on it. They are not meant to solve practical problems, they exercise your skill as a programmer. That only works when you do it yourself.

So asking a question about it already is against basic SO guidelines. Which require that a question is asked to solve a practical problem. There is just no way that multiplying the digits of a number is ever a problem that you have to solve for a real world problem.

Posting an answer to such a question is troublesome too. Whomever reads it is not going to be helped by it. That is pretty likely to stop him from solving the problem himself, the point of the Euler project.

Realistically, this question needs to be deleted. You can't do it yourself anymore, flag a mod.

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  • Thank you. However, I didn't answer the question of Project Euler directly, it's just an approach can possibly be used to solve the the Project Euler problem ..
    – Ken Kin
    Commented Jul 13, 2013 at 16:36
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    Figuring out an approach is of course the point of an Euler project, nobody ever cares about the result. I'm pretty amazed that after this answer, you thought it was a good idea to go ahead and put a bounty on the question. Commented Jul 13, 2013 at 21:12
  • Would you mind to suggest a good place to post question like that? I'm not quite sure that it is in all sense a non-practical problem, maybe for some numerical analysis such as something cryptographic .. ?
    – Ken Kin
    Commented Jul 13, 2013 at 21:40
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    I don't know, not at any SE site that I can think of. The site that is most forgiving to considering non-practical solutions to non-existing problems is codegolf. I seriously doubt they like seeing Euler questions, originality is pretty essential there. SE makes no attempt to be the McDonalds for hungry questioners. Doesn't Project Euler already keep a forum site? Never attempted to click the "login" button myself. Commented Jul 13, 2013 at 21:55
  • Thank you very much. You're right about the Project Eular problems. Excepting the particular case of a question like that, I'm still looking for some general guidelines of Q&A style post with this meta question.
    – Ken Kin
    Commented Jul 16, 2013 at 14:15
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    Respectfully, I don't really see any difference between these kinds of questions and, say, abstract questions about data structures. It's not up to us to decide whether or not asking questions of this kind benefits anyone's learning process. If Project Euler participants don't want spoilers, they can simply avoid them.
    – user102937
    Commented Jul 17, 2013 at 17:13
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If it wasn't or it's not enough to feed my curious, sometimes I pay my effort to solve those questions. And after I solved it, I'm happy to make my contribution of the community, I post them as the Q&A style posts.

If you have a question you want to solve on your own but you intend to post on SO as a Q/A, why not write the question down (in your favorite text editor) before you find the answer? It will help to ensure that the question is fully fleshed out and doesn't lean too heavily toward the solution you eventually discover.

Otherwise, do your best to put yourself back in the mindset of not having a solution. Make sure the question is answerable by others. Maybe someone has an even better solution than you have, so don't ask in such a way that the only answer happens to be the one you've got.

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  • This answer is good and simple, but I can mark only one as accepted. Thank you.
    – Ken Kin
    Commented Jul 24, 2013 at 11:01

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