It's well established that answering your own question is a good thing.

But can you have too much of a good thing? I just came across this user - 21 questions, 12 of which are self-answered (not always self-accepted).

What's the consensus on this?

  • 8
    Not self-accepting his own answers? Sounds like a harsh critic.
    – random
    Commented Sep 28, 2009 at 14:06
  • 5
    @random: Considering he was the one asking the question, it is likely the case there is a better answer than that which he provided. I've been in the same situation - I found a work-around, but it may not be the best. Put it out there, and let the community review it.
    – Sampson
    Commented Sep 28, 2009 at 14:08

4 Answers 4


This user is behaving the way we want users to behave.

  1. I do not have the answer to something I need at work.
  2. I try to find it.
  3. I fail to find it.
  4. I ask on StackOverflow.
  5. I continue to search for the answer.
  6. I find it, and post it on StackOverflow.

On the questions that I saw, when he answered the question himself, he wasn't stealing from answers that other people posted, he was posting a completely separate and unique answer, because the answers provided to him did not solve the issue.

This is the perfect behaviour because the issue is solved, and there is an accepted and correct answer so that other users can find it if they have similar issues.

  • 3
    I think people feel robbed, as if they can no longer answer a question because the OP answered it themselves. SOpedians need to keep in mind that there are many, many questions to be answered, and they can still answer questions that already have answers. We're not running out of ignorance in this world. We "answerers" have job-security.
    – Sampson
    Commented Sep 28, 2009 at 14:13
  • 1
    Is this correct behavior on 50% of your questions or it should happen ocazionally? Commented Sep 28, 2009 at 14:34
  • 6
    @Pop: Generally, I only post questions when I absolutely cannot find the answer for myself. But the fact is, it is my job to find those answers, and just because no one on StackOverflow could answer it doesn't mean I'm allowed to give up. I talk to other people and try things until it works. Once I have the answer, I should close down the SO question so that other people can benefit.
    – devinb
    Commented Sep 28, 2009 at 14:54
  • 2
    @Pop: The amount to which you choose to answer or not answer your own questions is not a criteria for describing correct or preferred behavior. Instead, as devinb says, what's important is that whenever they choose to self-answer they are engaging with the community by contributing new information which may be of benefit to others. As long as that happens, whether they do so on 1% or 99% of their questions is not important. Commented Sep 28, 2009 at 15:03
  • @Pop: The user that was pointed out by this question did not do that.
    – devinb
    Commented Sep 28, 2009 at 16:19
  • 1
    @Pop which user was banned for that? Commented Sep 28, 2009 at 18:48

I don't see it as a problem. You will only get up-voted if your answers are good, and you won't get anything from accepting your own answers. If you're clearly gaming, I think you'll be met with a slew of downvotes. Answering your own questions increases the risk of getting more-than-average downvotes. There's really more risk than gain in this - if people want to do it, that's fine, it's their rep that is at risk if they do it wrong.

  • 2
    I agree. And for the non-Watir-reference questions he posted there was a bit of time in between asking the question and posting the answer in which he was probably searching for the answer himself. He just happened to find it before anyone answered for him.
    – squillman
    Commented Sep 28, 2009 at 14:09

It's great to post a good question and an answer you know to build up a repository of solutions. I hope one day to not have to search anywhere else on the web for the answers I need.

  • +1 because I disagree with the -1 Commented Sep 28, 2009 at 18:49
  • this is fine as long as it's done in the right spirit, that is, being open to answers other than your own as well. Commented Sep 28, 2009 at 22:54

I think there are a good amount of questions where if you can anwer them yourself they don't deserve asking.

Answering your own questions should be the exception not the usual thing to do.

If you can find the anwer after 5 min. yourself, then why bother asking in the fist place, it's against the point of an Q&A site.

You ask when you don't know or are unable to find the answer with some effort, else you're filling the site with noize and low value questions.

  • I try to avoid answering in the fist place unless they're really asking for it Commented Sep 28, 2009 at 14:10
  • 7
    I disagree. Even if the question can be found with 5 minutes of searching, it's best to have the answer on SO. SO allows a community of experts to maintain answers, clean them up, improve them, etc. If any answer for any question exists anywhere, it should be migrated to SO and maintained by the SO community. Regardless how simple or complex.
    – Sampson
    Commented Sep 28, 2009 at 14:10
  • @Jonathan Sampson, I agree, but I think the questions should come up naturally, if it's a simple question then it should be asked by a newbie and answered by the comunity, instead of being aswered by someone then replying to himself, makes more sense like that. Commented Sep 28, 2009 at 14:17
  • Newbies have their own way of asking questions, they use their own wording, and when they ask the question gets closed as duplicate (because someone already asnwered a question asked by himself), and they don't get a chance to integrate well into the comunity (get rep for a legitimate question) also the previous asker steals rep for free (in time). It's like cheating, aswering questions you already know the asnwer to. Commented Sep 28, 2009 at 14:20
  • This is why I strongly believ answering your own questions should be done only and only if the comunity didn't provide and adequate answer and you eventually found the anwer, and if you already knwo the answer, the let newbies ask it. Commented Sep 28, 2009 at 14:21

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