I noticed this behavior from a specific person already multiple times. While I fully understand that it is a good thing to provide interesting questions even if you know the answer, I feel kind of misled if not even betrayed if the post is written in a form inducing OP has no clue of the topic, but then the OP answers it some minutes later in a fully formatted, multiple pages text.

Both his question AND answer had been heavily downvoted for this behavior. While at least the content of the answer was something I really liked and and upvoted, I feel uncertain about the situation.

Is it ok to ask a question in the form:

I heard of something called X, and am interested why people talk about it, are there any benefits or whats it about x?

Just to answer it some moments later with a few thousand character answer?

The point what I don't like about it is, the way the OP is misrepresenting the goal of the post. Potential answerers would be investing time into basic explanations, as it really looks like OP has no clue about the topic. But this is wasting other peoples time, as he don't even wants/needs any base information about it and it appears to him not even welcoming other people answering this.

Again, asking questions just to enrich this sites knowledge base by then giving the answer is totally fine. But asking in a way that tends to waste people time on basic explanations, where OP is well informed about the topic from the first moment? Doesn't feel right to me.

So how do we deal with these situations?

  • 3
    I'm not sure what you're proposing as an alternative. A question where they indicate that they know the answer is a pretty ridiculous question. That would be something to downvote, with the suggestion that they rewrite it as if they're ignorant, so it makes sense as a question.
    – DCShannon
    Jun 8, 2016 at 0:39
  • @DCShannon: I'm not proposing anything. I'm asking. And yeah, thats what you mention, is what I would have done. So now I know better. ;)
    – Zaibis
    Jun 8, 2016 at 7:23

4 Answers 4


There's absolutely nothing wrong with this, because there's absolutely nothing wrong with asking and answering your own question, and is actually encouraged by the Stack Exchange team. Maybe it's weird, but honestly writing up a question to an answer you already know is kind of weird (I know from experience), and the fact it's from the POV of an unknown person doesn't impact the questions or answer at all.

Now if a user is asking a bunch of low quality crap questions then sure, that's a problem, but that's not at all related to "asking from the POV of an unknown person."

And, to be perfectly blunt, I'm pretty sure the only reason folks are getting upset about this question being worded from an unknown POV is because @Retrosaur asked it. I get he asks lot of questions, and that some of them are low quality, but you're supposed to judge the question and answers on their own merit, not on the person asking them.

  • 1
    I'd like to point out that the specific user asked basically the same question a few days prior (which was answered by someone else, and a completely legitimate question).
    – two bugs
    Jun 3, 2016 at 12:19
  • 2
    @twobugs As I've already discussed on the question itself, those questions aren't duplicates. At the very least the scope of the new question is much larger than the proposed duplicate.
    – Wipqozn Mod
    Jun 3, 2016 at 12:30
  • I agree, I rescinded my downvote and I'm considering deleting my comment. I think the idea of a POV question is bizarre, but not exactly punishable. I do think the way that particular question was worded was quite silly, but that's not a big deal
    – two bugs
    Jun 3, 2016 at 12:52
  • I, like Jon Skeet, always answer the question from a third point view.
    – Braiam
    Jun 15, 2016 at 13:59

Self-answers are encouraged; you seem to have understood that point. What you seem to have missed is the point of most self-answered questions.

The point of posting a self-answered question for many people is not to get an explanation for themselves. It's to get an explanation for other people who may well not know the topic. This point is actually served very well by writing the question from the perspective of a user who doesn't know much, precisely because any other answers may focus on simple explanations.

The point what I don't like about it is, the way the OP is missleading the goal of the post.

On the contrary: the OP isn't misleading you about the post's goal; you're understanding it wrongly. It's not misleading or misrepresented; it's useful for the site's knowledge base.

  • 1
    I thi k the point of this question is the fact that the original question is worded as 'Ive looked everywhere, and cant find anything'. 'well thats utter bull, because only several minutes later, your showing us that you did find something'. Still accepted, but it could definitely be worded better.
    – user106385
    Jun 3, 2016 at 12:41
  • 1
    @Timelord64 The primary reason questions should be worded as questions rather than introductions to answers is searchability and relatability. Our knowledge base is relevant because it means people will be able to find answers to their questions without the need to ask and wait. Since many people are searching not with keywords, but with whole sentences, writing a question from the POV of someone who is searching for the answer improves the question's (and by extension, Arqade's) visibility and search engine ranking. And it's easier to see whether it's the same question someone has themselves.
    – scenia
    Jun 8, 2016 at 7:52

Personally i think it's totally fine.

there are 3 situations in which ones posts an answers

  1. They are answering another person's question
  2. They are answering their own question after finding the answer themselves
  3. They are posting their own question and answering it

with the first one it is very natural for someone to say "I heard of something called X, and am interested why people talk about it, are there any benefits or whats it about x?" in a question. with the second one the OP initially says this and at the time it's true but after doing some more research which they hadn't did before (ie. talking amount friends and being directed to relevant sources) they post an answer to their question.

so why would that kind of question be unnatural for the third situation? infact the only difference it has to the second is the amount of time that has passed between the question and answer being posted.

with question for the third situation it should still be written as if it can be answered by anyone else. looking at Wipqozn's answer and the question he points to, looking at one of the comments in the answer

The explanation that this allows you to do something else while the first thing finishes is useful. Still, I'm not saying I disbelieve, I'm saying I'm skeptical. Some kind of supporting evidence would be nice.

this allows someone else to come in and post a better answer with the supporting evidence that the OP's own answer is lacking. even if the OP prefer's his own answer and accepts it despite conflicting evidence others can still vote up/down other answers and give bounties invalidating the accepted answer. another answer can come along months or years later and be a better answer that the previous posted ones. would the question then not match the someone else's answer if it were posted?

with that said the question should still be worded to make sense to anyone reading it to regardless what knowledge the OP has or hasn't to whatever meaningful answer is posted 10 minutes later or a year later.

  • +1, great point that other people can come in and answer the question, so it should be written to allow that.
    – DCShannon
    Jun 8, 2016 at 0:38

In addition to the explanations you've already received, here's something else to consider:

Questions and answers are not just for the benefit of the original asker. They are for posterity. They are for people who show up later, with the same concern. These people don't know the answer to the question.

In the case of a self-answer, especially one where the answer is posted with the question, this is the entire point. The asker knows the answer already. They're just posting it because they think that others will find it interesting or useful.

So, given that the intended audience doesn't know the answer, you want to write the question from a perspective that makes sense for them.

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