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Is it ok to ask a question that I think is relevant for this community (and for which there doesn't seem to be an easily-found answer via google) even if I know the answer?

It seems we have a paucity of questions here, which will affect the site's long-term success. Most of the questions I would ask are either basic ones (where I know the answer) or obscure ones (where I don't know the answer, but they are probably of limited interest).

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Not sure why I've been notified about this... perhaps because Thomas linked to a question I've answered. Anyway, here's Jeff Atwood's blog post on the matter. There is absolutely no problem with asking or answering your own question, to back up Thomas. Some points I would make:

  • Pose the question as a question as if you did not know the answer. Don't be tempted to include the answer in the question at all, because then it becomes "am I right?" which is not so good. You don't want "basically yes" as an answer - you want the answer in the answer.
  • I'm kinda with Thomas on the etiquette/waiting before posting an answer. If you happen to be a world expert in the topic, it might be as well to wait and allow a few more points of view in first. However, if you think you have an answer but are not totally comfortable with the solution I can see the value in posting straight away such that other people then try to better your solution via edits or in their own answer. I think it depends.
  • Common sense dictates waiting before you accept an answer. You might think you have an excellent answer to something, only to find somebody else explains everything you've explained more accurately in fewer words. I'd always caution leaving questions out there for a bit before marking them done, whether answering your own question or not.
  • Answer the question fully, as if it were not you asking the question and you were answering/explaining to someone else. This is important so people like me can understand!

So by all means fire away with some questions.

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  • $\begingroup$ My intent was to ask basic questions to which I know the answer, but never to answer my own question. If it's "basic" then someone else here should be able to answer it; if not, that's a bigger problem than a lack of questions! :) $\endgroup$ – Fixee Sep 15 '11 at 18:23
  • $\begingroup$ @Fixee indeed. I'd ask it, see what happens. $\endgroup$ – user46 Sep 16 '11 at 8:26
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    $\begingroup$ Not sure why I've been notified about this - Moderators get notified about each new meta question. (Not ones you ask yourself, I assume.) $\endgroup$ – Paŭlo Ebermann Sep 16 '11 at 15:28
  • $\begingroup$ @Ninefingers: Ok, I'm going to try to formulate a "good" question on a basic topic every day or two if I can find the time. $\endgroup$ – Fixee Sep 16 '11 at 16:49
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Yes, it is ok. It has already been done. Etiquette suggests that you should wait for an answer from someone else.

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FWIW, the MathSE community has addressed this several time. Here and here are good sources of slightly contradictory viewpoints on the topic. In general, they think it perfectly reasonable to post and accept your own answer. It's in the faq, for that matter.

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According to the documented policy, it is OK to answer your own question, and even encouraged. Personally, I think it answering your own question is fine, and something we should encourage if both the question and answer are good ones. I don't think we should discriminate against cases where there's an answer from the person who asked the question.

However, I have had experience where I wondered if I'd been singled out for special scrutiny because I answered my own question (even though everyone gave other reasons, I still wondered), so I've drawn the inference that it is allowed but may sometimes be viewed with suspicion and may not always be encouraged. Of course, with a sample size of n=1, I would hesitate to draw too many conclusions.

Regardless of my personal experience, I have the impression that there are some people who view answering your own question with skepticism and view it as a potential sign of gaming the system (see also here and here and here), and you may see downvotes or demands to mark your question as a community wiki, regardless of the official policy, particularly if people think (rightly or wrongly) that you are just seeking rep points. People behave in all sorts of interesting ways, regardless of what the official policy may say. So, just be prepared for it and wear a thick skin.

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