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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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  • 2
    Personally, I prefer "You" over the "I" when reading the answer (even though it is self answered) because it addresses the person asking the question, which can be anyone with the same problem you had. But you could also try writing in more neutral way like Glorfindel's answer suggests. Apr 27 at 8:00
  • Cross-site related: buddhism.stackexchange.com/q/24883/20017 english.stackexchange.com/a/538112/246019 - this question will probably get an expert answer on English.SE. Discovered by copying your question's title into the main site's search.
    – Rob
    Apr 27 at 8:01
  • 2
    There are more options available, for example impersonal ones. "This might just be a case of confusing Lon and Lat." In real life, I almost never say you to myself.
    – Trilarion
    Apr 27 at 10:49
  • 2
    @Trilarion Indeed, it's possible to remove the you/I/he/she/they altogether from posts. Answers are about the content and not about the person, so in technical writing this is already fairly standard.
    – Mast
    Apr 28 at 7:10
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    Don't expect people to notice it's a self-answer.
    – philipxy
    Apr 29 at 2:53
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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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