This goes in the direction of How to handle answers as comments, but is not the same:

I often see questions like this where the user who posted the question later finds the answer himself, but either modifies the question to say "update: I solved it" or adds a comment "I solved it".

I find this a little frustrating, as:

  • I spend time reading and understanding the question to find out in the comments that this has been answered.
  • If I don't know the answer and have a similar issue, I can not benefit from this question.

I could of course still answer the question (if I know it), but obviously the original poster has no more interest in an answer as it is solved for him.

How to handle this?

  • Leave a comment that the OP should post his solution and mark it as solved?
  • Flag for a moderator?
  • Or even mark the subject line with '[already solved]' (I am not serious about this)
  • Can you answer your own question in a way that would help others? If you do, you can select yours as the correct answer. It may seem strange, but it is preferred way to handle situations like this.
    – user1228
    Commented Apr 11, 2011 at 14:03
  • 1
    I know that for myself - this question was "how to get others to do what you just suggested"
    – Heiko Rupp
    Commented Apr 11, 2011 at 14:29
  • 2
    beat them with sticks until they relent.
    – user1228
    Commented Apr 11, 2011 at 14:32
  • @Will: LOL :) SO should be a peaceful place.
    – Heiko Rupp
    Commented Apr 11, 2011 at 19:12
  • No, it should be a place of violence where the suck is scoured from us with rusty steel wool dipped in vinegar.
    – user1228
    Commented Apr 11, 2011 at 19:17

3 Answers 3


It seems to be me like you've got some good ideas there. I go for your “leave a comment” approach, as to me that's most likely to lead to a maximally-useful resolution, but flagging for attention (i.e., closure and deletion) is OK too, since it takes the question out of the Google search space.

But do not edit to add [already solved]! That's a meta-tag (which is frowned upon, with good reason) and it's useless since SO is full of questions that are already solved. That's the whole point of SO! The problem isn't that the question is solved, but rather that nobody's revealing what the solution was.

  • Just note, that I was not serious about the "already solved" as I noted in my question.
    – Heiko Rupp
    Commented Apr 10, 2011 at 7:04
  • 3
    @Heiko: Yes, but I always feel happier if I can flay a bit more flesh off the dead horse. :-) Commented Apr 10, 2011 at 15:44
  • 2
    +1 I especially agree with the deletion part. These questions are just cluttering up the side and are false-leads on searches. They need to be removed if the solution is not added to them. Nothing's more frustrating then finding a question/board topic about the same problem you've been researching for hours just to find the comment Nevermind, I solved it by myself :D without any hint to the solution. Commented Apr 11, 2011 at 7:10
  • 1
    @Bobby: Nearly as bad as where you find two people have corresponded privately and that the critical fix is in the bit they're not telling everyone about. Thankfully, SE's policy of not revealing addresses makes that less of a problem here. Commented Apr 16, 2011 at 7:53


  • If the question stands on its own, and maybe has worthwhile answers already, it doesn't matter much how the asker has solved it. In the SO model, askers don't have sole moral ownership of their question. Over the years, users will come and go, and more and more questions will be abandoned by their original asker. It doesn't matter so much whether the asker leaves after a few hours or a few years.
  • If the question doesn't have enough information (typical of troubleshooting questions), and the asker isn't staying around to provide requested information, close as “unclear what you're asking”.
  • If the problem turned out to be a PEBKAC (e.g. forgot to recompile, misreported error messages), i.e. there was a genuine problem but it's unlikely to ever be reproduced by anyone else, close as off-topic with a custom message (unfortunately custom messages cannot be used with other close reasons, and this option is not available when flagging). Some sites have a custom close reason for that (again, misleadingly, under “off-topic”).

If the asker adds a note that says they solved it without saying how, ask them to explain how they solved it by answering their own question. (Note that new users must now wait 24 hours before answering their own question.) If they don't comply, refer to the previous paragraphs.


Downvote the question then hopefully it is less lickly to show up in search results.

  • 3
    I am not sure how good that is, at it basically helps no one (and I even loose reputation for this).
    – Heiko Rupp
    Commented Apr 11, 2011 at 19:11

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