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I've been researching lots of questions in the game World of Warcraft (WoW), and usually the answers to practical questions such as "Where is an item located?" are buried in the comment threads on one of the two major WoW websites on their informational page for the item. The useful information is sometimes spread over multiple comments, requiring digging and piecing things together on my own. And these comments are often broken up with other comments. It isn't a place intended to ask and answer questions. It's a comment thread.

For a recent pursuit of mine, I decided to try to excavate the question and answer I had, and migrate it over to the gaming.stackexchange site. Stack Exchange is the best technology that I know for sharing and improving knowledge over time.

While typing out my question, I noticed for the first time that Stack Exchange has an option to "Answer your own question", so I used it.

I asked the question directly, and put all of the information about the research that I'd done in the Answer section. This was the first time using this "Answer your own question" feature, and I wasn't sure what the result would be.

I learned that it produces a standard Stack Exchange Q&A post, putting my answer below the question just like any other SE post.

The result is that my question feels pretty weak by the Stack Exchange standards. I didn't include my research in the question, I just asked the question directly. Other people in the community also feel like it's a weak question by these standards, and I see what they mean. It is a weak question standing on its own, and it's been downvoted accordingly.

I'm not worried about the downvotes, but rather I'd like to understand: how can I ask a better question when I'm also answering my own question?

Here is my Q&A on the gaming site: How do I learn to craft Engineering's Cardboard Assassin in Shadowlands?

If I move my research to the question portion that would improve the question, but it also feels like it would make the answer redundant. My research is essentially the answer.

I felt that I had evidence that other people also had the same question, and I wanted to help others out as well. It's hard to know for sure whether others also have the same question, but for the sake of this meta question, let's assume that they do. My question here is focused on the best way to format and distribute the information, and what additional things might improve the question.

I've reviewed the FAQ for Stack Exchange sites. One of the links provided there discusses how to answer your own questions, but this doesn't go into details on the best practices for doing so. I feel like I'm overlooking something.

I found Etiquette for answering your own question and it is somewhat similar. I've read through a handful of the top answers, however, and none of them seem to answer this specific question.

Do you have any advice for how I could better answer my own questions?

Do you have any examples of other self-answered questions that demonstrate better ways to distribute the relevant information?

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    It's admittedly hard to ask a question you already know the answer to. How do you provide.. "research", without spelling out the answer? how do you know the question existing would be considered useful? What does "research" even mean in the context of finding an item in a game, particularly when there's a website for that game that has literally every item and it's location in it? – user400654 Apr 30 at 15:03
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    You can't will people into finding your question useful, you can only do your best to provide useful content and see where the cards fall. – user400654 Apr 30 at 15:05
  • Yes, I see what you mean. I'm not sure that "usefulness" is the metric that I'm considering here, though. It feels like questions are downvoted for other reasons than usefulness. This SE post suggests similar ideas. – Reed Dunkle Apr 30 at 15:09
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    I mean, my personal take on your question is that is in fact useless, given that the primary place people look for information for that game is where the highly upvoted comment contains the answer. :shrug: that doesn't necessarily mean questions of that nature aren't allowed, it's just... who would ever need it? I certainly wouldn't want to encourage people making self answered questions about every such wow profession craft that's earned that way, why is this particular one special? – user400654 Apr 30 at 15:12
  • In this case, that one comment doesn't contain all of the useful information. Another comment further down contains more useful information. It's also in a comment thread, surrounded by irrelevant information to that particular question; the space isn't dedicated to answering that question, it's just a comment thread for an item. And there's no way to improve on those answers over time. I believe SE is a better home for this particular question and answer. I might be wrong, and that's fine. This is partly an experiment. – Reed Dunkle Apr 30 at 15:16
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    Reed, it would probably be better to ask on their meta the specific way they want those Q&As formulated than to ask for general advice on the main meta for all sites; they may have rules and restrictions that people here, who don't frequent that site, are unaware of. – Rob Apr 30 at 15:17
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    @Rob Thank you! I wasn't aware of sites have their own metas. – Reed Dunkle Apr 30 at 15:17
  • Perhaps coincidentally, I have posted 3 self-answered Q&A on Gaming.SE too: 1, 2, 3. Sometimes, providing background/context/reason is as important as the research effort. – Meta Andrew T. Apr 30 at 19:00
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Think about what made you need to answer the question in the first place

For that question (I'm unfamiliar with the game), I assume that you usually learn to craft items at the trainer. Including something like "It doesn't seem to be possible to learn to craft this item at the trainer like other items" could be helpful. As another example, when I asked a self-answered question on Stack Overflow asking for the equivalent of a particular component in a new framework, I initially got a negative reception until I edited the question to add the use case that would be solved by using that component.

Try to make sure someone else could have answered the question the way you wrote it

Sure, you answered the question, but maybe something will change later, you'll have left the site, and there will be a new answer. Someone else should be able to come along and answer the question. In your case, you've done this: it's specific, clear, and to the point. Sometimes self-answered questions end up having very few details (sometimes not enough to reproduce a problem) such that only the poster could possibly answer them. While sometimes this is hard to avoid, it's best to make sure the question could stand on its own without your answer.

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I've generally asked questions the same way - and I feel that part of the problem is you're directly translating from "I'm trying to move useful information" rather than "I'm trying to solve a problem"

I actually have a very similar question - and it might be useful to break it down to get an idea of a pattern that might work

I've been trying for roughly half an hour to get past the Seoul power plant in the Hack Teh World main mission.

I've clearly enumerated the problem. This is in the 'main' Watchdogs 2 game and I'm assuming that anyone looking for, or being able to answer has context

I've been toggling the systems but they light up then go back to blue.

Talks about my specific problem

How do I get the powergrid to overload? I got the dialog triggered but nothing happens.

Talks about my expected result.

Your answer actually has several useful elements here, but lets start with your question

How do I craft the Engineering item Cardboard Assassin (Wowhead) in Shadowlands?

And let's apply this pattern to your question

I'm attempting to craft the Engineering Item "Cardboard Assassin" in the Shadowlands Expansion for World of Warcraft

The WOWhead link is a distraction for now.

I've been unable to find a trainer who would teach how to craft this item

Here's your blocker

How do I learn to craft this item? What would be the prerequisites be?

Is your expected result.

Naturally, I don't know anything about WOW - and this is literally my 'minimal' viable question so feel free to build on it.

I've found this pattern works very well in most places

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People come to SE to find answers for questions. It doesn't really matter who is answering a question, because usually people want to know the answer.

Quite on the contrary I find it very frustrating when I look for something, find the exact question in some forum, and then the poster writes a coment later saying "Never mind, I found the answer".

So, by all means, if you have a question and you found the answer to it, then just answer it. I have answered many of my own questions, because I got no answers and found it out on my own in the meantime.

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