There are a lot of meta-discussions, here and on meta.stackoverflow, that all agree that self-answers are okay but it is encouraged to wait a bit, to give others a chance to answer.

However, let's assume there was something that is interesting for me and I've performed some active research on it, and now want to share it through our site.

Asking the question and then waiting until someone else researches it as well feels exploitative and stupid, as basically I'm asking people to waste time and effort on research I have already performed. I mean, they can still perform it themselves if they feel my answer isn't satisfactory and post it, but otherwise asking them to do something which I have already done looks ridiculous.

On the other hand, immediately answering my own question feels like rep-whoring. I mean, I would certainly like to receive reputation if others find my question interesting or my answer useful, but answering it immediately gives me some unfair advantage for getting the first answer in - since no one else have seen it yet...

Ultimately the information is something I would like to see on the site so I'm leaning towards posting these question/answer pairs, though I would like to hear the community opinion first.

EDIT: when I say "research" I mean actually opening the game and experimenting with stuff, examining game files, etc.

  • 2
    If you want to write your own answer right away and save it into the system, remember you can post it then delete it. Your answer will be invisible to mostly everybody and bringing it out is just one click away on "undelete".
    – badp
    Oct 6, 2010 at 21:21
  • @badp that doesn't really solve the dilemma - feeling bad about people putting effort into finding an answer that the OP already knows.
    – sjohnston
    Oct 7, 2010 at 4:04
  • @sjo it solves a technical problem with delaying the answer, if it did answer the dilemma I would've posted it as an answer :)
    – badp
    Oct 7, 2010 at 4:36
  • I consider experimenting and google-ing on par. I would expect some level of both before I ask a question. If my goal is to get an answer to my question, taking 5 minutes out of my life to try some stuff in my code, or look at other code, or pop in gdb, or google is a very cost effective way to solve my problems. If I can't solve it on my own easily, then I start looking for help. Usually I try chat/irc before I finally come to SO. I think SO is a good source, but I don't want to be asking people to do my work for me if I'm unwilling to put in any effort
    – tzenes
    Oct 7, 2010 at 16:20
  • 3
    I definitely hate when people are against it and think it is rep-whoring. I feel like I shouldn't share anything with anyone and keep the knowledge to myself and friends who care.
    – BrunoLM
    Jan 1, 2014 at 20:58

5 Answers 5


Answering immediately is currently encouraged by the system, so long as the user has 100 15 reputation.

enter link description here

  • 1
    Cool [X] <-- checkbox so I can bypass the minimum length of a comment, also test only enabled.
    – juan
    May 18, 2012 at 20:23

I'm not sure why waiting for people to answer is any more "exploitative" than just answering yourself - in both scenarios, you're the one bring the question onto the table. Bringing the impetus of getting the solution on the site is a valuable thing to do. Which is why good questions get voted on in the first place.

Not every time is it going to require other people to even research. Sometimes, it'll turn out that someone already did that research or already knows that information. So it's a bit unhealthy to assume that people are going to need to waste time that you already spent; it may very well be that you wasted your own time.

Personally speaking, I can hardly ever call playing a video game to be "wasting my time". You're just giving me an excuse to have fun. ♪

As I mentioned in the last time we discussed this, waiting for some period of time is and should remain completely optional. It's just as good an etiquette to provide the answer immediately as it is to wait a day. People will notice trends if particular users are actually trying to abuse the system in this fashion, but there's no inherent issue with the act itself.

  • Yeah, nobody complained when I immediatelly aswered my question about the NFS:Word cars :) such a tedious process of counting those tiny ticks.
    – badp
    Oct 7, 2010 at 8:42

Whenever possible, you should post your question when you think of it, before doing the research.

However, I, for one, am perfectly fine with you posting answers immediately. Your question/answer should still be judged by their quality, and how much they add to the site. Your answers will still have to compete with anything anyone else comes up with.

Think of it this way, if you asked/answered the question and didn't do the other half of the work, wouldn't you deserve that reputation?

Just be sure you look at anyone else's answers to the question and accept any that are better than your answer.

  • It's actually good that accepting answers can only be done after a day or two for your own answers, that does force one (more or less) to examine all the answers before accepting.
    – Oak
    Oct 6, 2010 at 21:17
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    I don't agree with before doing research. I realize that the SE engine handles simple questions very well with close as duplicate, but if you're not doing research chances are you aren't even looking for previous questions. I think regardless of your approach we're going to get those simple questions eventually, but you should always do a modicum of research first. Even if its only searching on our site.
    – tzenes
    Oct 7, 2010 at 0:11
  • 1
    @tzenes I'm thinking "research" in this scenario is more of the field-testing type than the book-reading type.
    – Grace Note StaffMod
    Oct 7, 2010 at 0:20
  • @Grace I'm not sure I understand what you mean by that. If I have a problem in programming, the first thing I do is try some random stuff. If that fails, then I go to google. If that fails then I go to SO and search there. If all else fails, then I ask a question. I defined this as research.
    – tzenes
    Oct 7, 2010 at 0:44
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    @tzenes I'll edit my response later to make this more clear, but in the context of my answer I used research to mean to any work done AFTER everything you mentioned: i.e. scouring forums, trying unusual things in game, looking at xml files included with the game. That's the kind of work we don't want repeated. I consider what you mentioned to be prerequisites for asking questions. (not that some of us don't forget about google now and then) Oct 7, 2010 at 1:06
  • @Will I'm not sure I understand the difference between what I just said and then you just said...
    – tzenes
    Oct 7, 2010 at 1:12
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    @tzenes How about this: at some point in the process, you stop trying to FIND an answer that already exists, and start trying to BUILD an answer by doing experiments, finding pieces of the answer in other places, or looking at info you shouldn't have to look at. Building an answer takes a lot more work, and is a lot more error prone. That's when its time to post, because if someone has an answer, it saves time overall. Oct 7, 2010 at 4:22
  • @Will I don't really see any division there. The whole thing is a single process. The BUILD and FIND process is a continuous gradient. I don't think there is any point at this gradient where you can say: welp, I've done enough time to ask. Instead I think the asking is just another part of the gradient.
    – tzenes
    Oct 7, 2010 at 4:27
  • @tzenes OK, then where on the gradient do the things I mention fall compared to asking on a Stack Exchange? Before or after? Oct 7, 2010 at 4:40
  • @Will both some happens before, some happens after.
    – tzenes
    Oct 7, 2010 at 5:06
  • @Will @tzenes my original intention in "research" was for things like opening the game and experimenting, or examining game files. Not Google searches.
    – Oak
    Oct 7, 2010 at 8:16
  • @Oak I put this as a comment to your question.
    – tzenes
    Oct 7, 2010 at 16:18

My opinion:

  1. You are (at least for now) a moderator, so rep-whoring is a non issue (you can even ban the first one that suggests it)

  2. If you don't do it all the time I believe it's ok

  3. If you leave a comment explaining what you said here (not wanting to waste people's time), I wouldn't think bad about what you did.

  • 3
    I think #1 is a little off topic. Obviously if this rarely occurs its not an issue we really need to worry about. I think your #3 is really the best point. If you comment that you have an answer, then I don't mind if you post it immediately or in a week. It certainly won't stop me from answering.
    – tzenes
    Oct 6, 2010 at 21:19

I would propose a time constraint: 1 Day

This would be a matter of etiquette and not necessarily enforced, but the etiquette gives other people time to answer the question as necessary.

If, after one day, you still feel none of the answers are correct you are free to post your answer.

So how does this address asking people to waste time?

Well I don't consider the time I spend on gaming to be a waste. I realize that even if I don't answer questions other people might produce the same results as if I had. If people are worried that I'm asking a question I already know the answer to, then they are free to wait the 24 hours before answering. By having a time constraint I have removed the concern that people might feel exploited.

Having asked questions in the past which I do know the answer to I've found, more often than not, that in a 24 hour span the community will produce the correct answer without any additional input from me.

On the occasions when the community has not produced an answer which is satisfactory, I believe that answering, even if others have, is more beneficial to the community than leaving the question without a correct answer.

So why 24 hours? I've found that the first 24 hours are when a question receives the vast majority of its attention. We can adjust this number more accurately, but I think that 24 is a nice round number. The exception to this I've noticed is on weekends (when we have substantially less traffic). We can introduce the proviso: 24 Weekday hours, for additional specificity if this is a continued concern.

  • 4
    I just believe it's nice to give others the chance to answer it, if it's close to your own solution go accept it, if not add your own later. But give others a shot first!
    – Ivo Flipse
    Oct 7, 2010 at 4:37

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