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I had a question about how to convert geo coordinates. A couple hours later, I found the answer and posted it as answer to my own question.

Initially I wrote:

I just got confused with Lon/Lat. [When I tried this and that it worked...]

Now, a couple of weeks later, I read through my question and answer again and found this text a bit hard to understand and maybe even misleading. I therefore reformulated it to be:

You probably got confused with Lon/Lat. [Try this and that and it will work...]

I could imagine other users feel more involved or feel more addressed by such an answer.

Now I am wondering, whether this should be a rule for me in the future. Should I write answers to myself as "You" or as "I"?

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4 Answers 4

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IMHO, it doesn't really matter. Just like novels are sometimes written in third person, sometimes in first person (and even in second person, as I learned a week ago), pick one of the two styles and stick with it. This is another case of Stack Exchange being about the content, not the person; as long as the content is clear, first or second person form does not matter. Alternatively, you could write something like this, which entirely avoids personal pronouns:

People often confuse these coordinates with Lon/Lat. After setting Lon (x) to 11... and Lat (y) to 48..., everything should work as expected.

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We write answers for anyone that visits Stackoverflow - not primarily only for the one that posted the question. For random google users - especially when landing via deeplink at an answer - the answer is easier to understand, if it expressed just as anyone would expect an answer to be expressed.

If a google user lands on an answer phrased with "I" (first person) this might be unnecessarily distracting. To understand what is going on, the user would have to see who posted the answer, scroll up and compare it to who wrote the question.

If all answers (the self-answer and all others) are formulated equal (second person), than they are slightly easier to compare. Self-Answers should not get a bonus by itself - they do not deserve a special place, a special rating and maybe not even a special wording. Go for uniformity.

Leave all existing self-answers formulated as they are. It is not worth to edit them for this sole reason. But in the future, give a slight preference to writing "You".

-- me, myself and I: the question's author

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I'm not really writing the answer for *me*. I'm writing the answer for the *next* person who has the same problem - I talk about what I did but the steps are for future visitors

Every so often, past me does save my future me some pain 😁 but my main audience is the reader - and that's who the answer is aimed at.

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You should address yourself as “I”, or better, use impersonal language targeted at the subject matter. Addressing yourself as “you” looks bizarre. It is a misuse of the language: in any given dialogue, “I” and “you” refer to two distinct persons; if you use both to refer to yourself, it means you pretend to be someone else.

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  • It does seem odd to use "you", but then I read Marcus Aurelius's timeless book "Meditations". The former Roman emperor uses "you" when talking to himself as the book was written as advice to himself. I got used to him using the word "you". It felt like he was not only talking to himself but also sharing the information and addressing it to me as well.
    – jmort253
    Jan 5, 2023 at 3:30

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