There are a couple of categories of the self-answered question that to me, seems like noise. Personally, I think the first category should be deleted, and I'm in the air on the second category - although if I'm looking for some solution via google and land here, I'm going to look to the accepted answer first. In both of the below cases, that's just no help.

Category 1: Never Mind

The worst (to me) are the "never mind" questions. The user asked a question, and then later figured out that it was a problem with the data or some other assumption. The question just stays around, taking up precious bits on the internet.

Personally I'd like to see these types deleted

Category 2: I'll give you a hint but not my solution

I've figured it out, it was the foogarbler. So they answer their own question and mark an answer as accepted that has no actual information - and may not even relate to anything they posted. This category is huge, and often has good discussion - then an accepted answer that doesn't really help and casts doubts on if this really the same as what I was searching for...

Okay, so that last one was almost another category - "answer makes no sense unless you see the rest of my code", but they are related.

Just as a note - I'm fine with an answer of "judge case-by-case", but I am loath to vote to close/delete any of these without some general guidance. I'd prefer a rule of thumb or community agreed-upon guidance on how to judge if action should be taken, and what that action should be.

  • 2
    Having been the author of one of the first (one can find it here if they have 10k on Stack Overflow), I'm quite supportive of their deletion. Can't quite say that I've run into the second version, though, so I wish to do some more research.
    – Grace Note StaffMod
    May 10, 2011 at 18:55
  • 1
    Just curious, why did you limit this to self-answered questions? Questions where the OP indicated "I was stupid" in a comment or an edit to the original question seem just as worthy to me.
    – Pops
    May 10, 2011 at 19:06
  • @Popular Demand - Upon reflection, I think you're 100% correct. I guess I was blinded by the fact that when I run into it, it's almost always self-answered. May 10, 2011 at 19:15
  • 1
    I've seen the Category 2 answers often in the context of bounty questions.
    – arcain
    May 11, 2011 at 2:41

5 Answers 5


already answered here

Should one-off questions be discouraged?

TL;DR reader's digest version:

Could I learn anything from this question?

If the answer is no, delete it with extreme prejudice.

  • I'd say this counts as pretty clear guidance. May I assume that by "this question", you mean the question, answers, and comments as a whole? May 11, 2011 at 12:00
  • @philip that's correct, I mean "the whole page" since a page is a question (obviously, that's how everything starts) plus comments and answers May 12, 2011 at 0:31

I don't believe you should delete one of these types of questions when it has any answers.

I hate to see people put effort into helping only to have their work thrown away. I believe it would be better to encourage the OP to provide a paragraph with details about what happened. That will allow answerers to benefit from their work and searchers to benefit from the answer from OP.

  • I'd certainly agree with this - it is no fun to have a question deleted after putting effort into it. I suppose seeing people's attempt at psychic debugging can help even when the overall question is invalid. May 11, 2011 at 2:33

While I am not any kind of authority, I will tell you what I think is reasonable. I leave a comment when I see this sort of question, asking the owner to either provide an answer if they haven't and it's possible or, if it really was something tiny like the wrong format specifier, to just delete the question*. If there's no response after a few days/a few times of that user being seen, I would think that a mod flag with a note asking for deletion would be appropriate. I'm of the opinion that such a question falls in the "Too Localized" bin. Although I do agree with Will (see comment) that it's a shame to have the work that went into an answer disappear, I think that clearing away clutter is more important.

*This only works, of course, if there are no upvoted answers.

  • 3
    +1 for upvoted answers; I might extend that to any answers. hate to see people put effort into helping only to have their work thrown away.
    – user1228
    May 10, 2011 at 19:38
  • @Will: I meant only that it's actually impossible to delete your own question if there is an upvoted answer. I agree about the bummer of seeing your work disappear, and I suppose there's potential for future readers to find a discussion of possible solutions useful, but I come down on the "remove the clutter" side of this question.
    – jscs
    May 10, 2011 at 19:48
  • Gah. Can't take my vote back without adding a cheesy edit.
    – user1228
    May 10, 2011 at 20:22
  • @Will: Sorry about that. I've just made some edits myself, so feel free to change your vote now.
    – jscs
    May 10, 2011 at 20:25
  • Yay! I've moved my comment to an answer.
    – user1228
    May 10, 2011 at 20:28

I would keep them if:

  • The question can be answered without further input from the OP
  • Answering the question would be of benefit to someone else who finds it through Google
  • There are answers that will help people with similar problems

Otherwise, I'd opt for Too Localized or Not a Real Question.


Category 3 - user posts the answer in the question without even realizing it (and should get a new "foot in mouth" badge?)

urlrewriter.net The element 'rewrtie' is not allowed

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