While browsing through some questions, I was reminded of a problem I encountered in an earlier point in work. I came up with something that could be technically called a solution to the problem, but I can't really say I am satisfied with it. I thought about asking the question on SO.

In effect, the question would read something like a more detailed version of "This was my problem. This is how I currently solved it. Is there a more appropriate/efficient method of accomplishing this goal?" I'm a bit unsure as to whether it'd be an appropriate question since it technically already has an accepted answer, especially if there is no "more appropriate/efficient method", then it seems questionable why I would even ask in the first place.

So, should I ask this kind question? On a related note, would it be better etiquette to include my current solution as part of the question body, or should it be appended as an answer?


I am accepting quack's because I chose that route when I did ask the question. But I find all of the answers given to have been satisfactory, and a good learning. Thanks to everyone!

  • This has been asked before, here meta.stackexchange.com/questions/2800/… for example
    – ChrisF Mod
    Apr 16, 2010 at 13:02
  • 1
    i'm not sure the "duplicate" @ChrisF suggests is really a duplicate. Apr 16, 2010 at 13:23
  • While the "execution" is the same in that question, the "approach" is different. In that question, he wants to add his solution to the trilogy's wealth of knowledge. In my case, I'm trying to improve my current working-but-ludicrously-unsatisfactory solution.
    – Grace Note StaffMod
    Apr 16, 2010 at 13:24
  • @quack - there are others, but I knew I'd answered one so it was the easiest to find ;)
    – ChrisF Mod
    Apr 16, 2010 at 13:25

3 Answers 3


If your question is focused on finding alternate solutions to a problem, you can certainly include your known solution in the question body -- it's part of the question.

I have Problem X.

I managed to solve Problem X with Widget Y, but this feels suboptimal. Maybe it's the way the gibberish needs to be flubbed for Widget Y to work in this way:

  • Connect Widget Y into aardvark Z;
  • Flub the gibberish;
  • ???
  • Profit.

I'm looking for alternatives that are more {powerful,optimal,flub-safe} than my current Widget Y-based solution. What other options are there?

This is something of a stylistic choice, so posting your existing solution as a separate answer is OK too, but I think the above will help focus answers away from the known approach. If you do post the known solution in the question, be brief.

  • 1
    So, would "My current solution is unsatisfactory as it involves delibrately calling methods until a specific error is thrown to catch" be brief enough?
    – Grace Note StaffMod
    Apr 16, 2010 at 13:36
  • 2
    @ccomet: probably, but you might run afoul of not providing enough detail for answerers to know what methods to avoid. what's too little detail might depend on the subject matter. i guess what i'm getting at is, if you want to post full details, post them in an answer; if you want to post it as part of the question, pare it down so you don't drown your reader in current solution. (mmmm, current solution...) Apr 16, 2010 at 13:41
  • Okay, that makes sense.
    – Grace Note StaffMod
    Apr 16, 2010 at 13:46

Yes, so long as you phrase it as a question, this type of question is acceptable.

You can always add your answer as an answer, and let the community write an answer if they think there's a better way. The votes will tell you the story.

I wouldn't add it right away, as it could keep people from answering your question.

I would recommend not accepting your answer unless it is the highest voted after a few weeks.


I see no problem in you asking such a question, it's a perfectly valid one.

If you decide to put your solution in an answer, try waiting a while before doing it, just to get others to come up with their own versions; answering your own question too fast might discourage others from answering.

If you put your solution in the question body, you might force answers to gravitate around your version, trying simply to improve it instead of coming up with different, better ones. Also, adding your solution in the question itself can make it hard to figure out if you got downvoted/upvoted because of the question of because of the solution. I'd go with the first option, simply answering your own question after a few days (I'm not suggesting you should also accept your answer, judge all the answers on their own technical merit).

  • 1
    My only concern is that if I don't state my current approach at least within the question body, that people might just suggest what I'm currently doing anyway.
    – Grace Note StaffMod
    Apr 16, 2010 at 12:54
  • 1
    @ccomet true, but not all will suggest the same thing. They might come up with different solutions that might get lost if they'd simply try to optimize your own.
    – alex
    Apr 16, 2010 at 12:59

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