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Background

I was told in chat that some sites don't / might not see self-answers in a positive light, which I found surprising, having read the (fairly old) "It’s OK to Ask and Answer Your Own Questions" blog post, which is linked-to directly in the Ask Question UI, and the "Can I answer my own questions, even if I knew the answer before asking?" FAQ post here on MSE. It made me wonder- Is it truly the case that some network sites don't receive self-answers and self-answered-questions well? And if so, why?

"Research"

One (completely baseless!) theory I thought of to possibly explain this (if it really exists) is that experts like challenging questions, and maybe they dislike finding a question with self-answers they find satisfactory because it doesn't present a challenge to them / tickle their expertise bone. I strongly suspect that this theory is wrong, but it was the first thing that popped into my mind, so I thought it to be worth stating so that it can either be constructively disproved or confirmed.

Question

Is it true for any specific network sites that there is a general stigma among the site regulars (particularly answerers- i.e. the experts) against self-answers? (disapproval of / "discrimination" against. For example, disapproval that materializes as downvotes) Or do any specific network sites have different, specific etiquette/guidelines for self-answering? If so, for those sites, why?

Purpose

I'm asking this because I want to participate on the network with good etiquette and to be forewarned-about / mentally-prepared-for running up against any stigma against self-answers.

Finer Details of the Question

  1. I'm not talking about self-answers where the question or the self-answer have issues that violate official Stack Exchange-wide or widely-accepted-on-site-specific-meta community guidelines. I'm talking about stigma particularly and only against the fact of the Q&A being a self-answered one: Questions that stand alone as well-formed, on-topic, not-too-localized, good-fit-for-SE questions, and self-answers that stand alone as well-formed, complete, useful answers. This question is not a duplicate of "What are limitations on self-answered questions?" or the similar post on MSO: "What are the limits for self-answers? When are they (not) acceptable?"

  2. I'm not talking about self-answers to questions where the answer to the question could be found outside the SE network in a short time (for example, 5 minutes) by googling the title. I don't think a large volume of such Q&A posts would really serve the goal to make the internet a better place.

  3. [puzzling.se] and [codereview.se] are out of scope for this question, since puzzling has a loose "protocol" / etiquette for self-answering, and so does codereview, and both are quite different beasts than the other more conventional knowledge-sharing network sites.

  4. I have tried to pose this question following the guidelines for asking constructive subjective questions. Prefer sharing experiences rather than opinions. Back up any opinions with facts and references. Keep in mind the purpose for which this question is asked. If you know that any network sites that have specific etiquette/protocols for self-answering like [puzzling.se], please link to them and summarize their rationale.

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2 Answers 2

11

I feel like it's very much a matter of perceived intent more than anything else. If it's a 'low hanging fruit' type question or a simple one, that's self-answered, it might not go great.

If it's an attempt at sharing documentation for a difficult problem, or sharing the solution to a difficult problem found before, it's likely to go better.

I generally feel Jeff had a good handle on how things should have worked, and while the post is old, the advice it gives is still very relevant.

No one's going to get mad at a great, interesting Q&A pair. Some good/difficult problems are resolved cause you kept hammering at the problem and found the answer yourself or elsewhere. And it's certainly good to avoid the Denvercoder Problem, and close the loop.

Sometimes though the question answer pairs are not great. They might be a 'duh' moment, or ending up rubber ducking a problem. Sometimes it's an odd topic of obsession. Then we have problems.

Fundamentally it shouldn't matter, nor should there be a stigma about self-answers.

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  • 4
    I think this does not fully answer the question, which was "is there a stigma on some sites", not "should there be a stigma". Unless you mean to imply "self-answered questions are accepted by the communities of all sites (except Puzzling) provided they are good self-answered questions", which could (should!) be true, but may need some supporting evidence - for example a SEDE query for downvoted self-answered questions and a manual analysis on different sites to spot check if they are indeed bad.
    – Marijn
    Commented Jan 2, 2023 at 16:15
  • I'm not sure if the numbers alone would show if there's a stigma - its entirely possible one site gets 'bad' self answers and another dosen't and the way sites handle things are so very different between say meta, a big site and a smaller one. Commented Jan 3, 2023 at 10:14
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    That's why I added the manual analysis remark, if you find downvoted self-answered questions, and you look at them yourself and they are actually not so bad (and/or not worse than other questions on that site that are not downvoted), then that is indicative of a stigma. Another perhaps easier way is to search on each individual meta site to see if the concept of self-answering is discussed, and if negative sentiments are expressed then that is also indicative of a stigma.
    – Marijn
    Commented Jan 3, 2023 at 10:44
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An in-progress answer based on site-wide meta discussions

This is a work-in-progress community wiki answer with the goal of building up a list of annotated links to (mainly) discussion posts across the network's meta sites that contain possible indicators of approval or stigma of self-answers, or "neutral" re-inforcement of the expectations of quality for Q&A posts, or contain discussion on etiquette/practice for self-answering on that site, such that the list can eventually be used to form an answer to the question.

Entries in the current listing were found by a full pass over the following search query on stackexchange.com: is:question closed:no [self-answer] [discussion]. That first pass is not exempt from the effects of human-and-other-timing-related-errors (i.e. @starball might have missed some).

I (@starball) have not yet had the time (and motivation (I need a break after sifting through a 366-result search query)) to annotate this list to summarize what relevant info can be gleaned from each post, but I will do so when I have that time and motivation. Or you can do it! Unfortunately for me, it turns out that there are many more discussion posts containing "self-answer" that don't have . It'll take me a while to go through those (I've now gone through the first 5 pages, and the following pages seem to be less relevant).

The list of sites is ordered by traffic. Entries of each site's list are (attempted to be) roughly ordered with posts that are more relevant here higher up in the list (somewhat subjective and hard to do).

Posts on meta.stackexchange.com

Posts on meta.stackoverflow.com

Posts on meta.askubuntu.com

Posts on meta.superuser.com

Posts on math.meta.stackexchange.com

Posts on salesforce.meta.stackexchange.com

Posts on stats.meta.stackexchange.com

Posts on gis.meta.stackexchange.com

Posts on physics.meta.stackexchange.com

Posts on english.meta.stackexchange.com

Posts on gaming.meta.stackexchange.com

Posts on datascience.meta.stackexchange.com

Posts rpg.meta.stackexchange.com

Posts on ell.meta.stackexchange.com

Posts academia.meta.stackexchange.com

meta.mathoverflow.net

Posts on webapps.meta.stackexchange.com

Posts on gamedev.meta.stackexchange.com

Posts on scifi.meta.stackexchange.com

Posts on dsp.meta.stackexchange.com

Posts on worldbuilding.meta.stackexchange.com

Posts on quant.meta.stackexchange.com

Posts on politics.meta.stackexchange.com

Posts on movies.meta.stackexchange.com

Posts on hermeneutics.meta.stackexchange.com

Posts on bitcoin.meta.stackexchange.com

Posts on anime.meta.stackexchange.com

Posts on biology.meta.stackexchange.com

Posts on islam.meta.stackexchange.com

Posts on codegolf.meta.stackexchange.com

Posts on photo.meta.stackexchange.com

Posts on judaism.meta.stackexchange.com

Posts on ham.meta.stackexchange.com

Posts on literature.meta.stackexchange.com

Posts on iot.meta.stackexchange.com

Posts on buddhism.meta.stackexchange.com

Posts on genealogy.meta.stackexchange.com

Posts on proofassistants.meta.stackexchange.com

Posts on hardwarerecs.meta.stackexchange.com

Posts on windowsphone.meta.stackexchange.com (archived)

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