The question

The Help center states about answering your own question:

If you have more than 15 reputation and already know the answer, click the checkbox that says "Answer your own question"

New users have 1 reputation, thus cannot immediately answer their own question. However, what happens when someone asks their first question, then figures out the solution to their problem on their own before an answer is written. Can they post the answer via the question's page?


  • Option 1: This is true

If so, why is there a limit of 15 reputation on just doing so immediately? All it does is make the operation of the site more cumbersome by adding unnecessary button clicks. The user effectively would already have the permission to add their own answer via simply navigating to it, scrolling down, hitting the answer your own question button, then hitting okay, after which they can write the answer.

Worse still, because the default avenue of doing so as written in the Help Center is unavailable, users might more readily assume that in fact this workaround will not work, even when it does. Nor is the workaround as apparent, there's no instructions for it in said help center.

So my reason for asking would then be: It seems counterintuitive to me to make the site less user-friendly for newer users.

  • Option 2: This is false

This still leads to another problem. A new user can comment on their own question. Since an answer can be written as a comment, and the site's policy is to encourage users to answer their own problems so that the site becomes a useful resource for others encountering the same problem later, a helpful user would logically leave their answer as a comment.

But comments are not answers. Site policy is for a user to convert a comment into an answer. What this would essentially mean is that every time a new user discovers their answer to one of their first few questions before other users (and, if it is a difficult/obscure enough problem a second answer may not come along for a long time) either:

  • Some unneccessary editing / moderation work and a spurious comment are created when the answer is posted as a comment.
  • The answer is too long for a comment and isn't posted to the site. Meaning we get the classic problem of someone with the same problem finding the question 5 years later with no (real) answer, being no better than other sites where this problem is widespread. The "Guys, I solved my problem, close the thread" with no indication how annoyance is basically one of the main reasons Stack Exchange was created.
  • Since they can't post an answer, the user just doesn't post anything.

Here my reason for asking would be: This seems counter to the site's policy, and won't help moderation. Why require it?

Why is this important?

While getting very few points of reputation is quite simple, the truth / reality of sites like this is that the vast majority of users have less reputation (up-to-date query) than you might think. A large fraction of users will use this site to ask about a single problem. The site should be user-friendly to this case.

Applicability to other sites

The quote above appears all over the SE network on the same help page so this meta question would apply to other sites as well (although due to different subjects they might want different solutions).

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  • Looking at the privileges list, I don't see this listed as a 15 rep privilege and with only 10 rep users have their "new user restrictions" lifted, including answering protected questions, so if this is accurate I'd agree it seems unnecessary to lock the feature behind 15 rep. – IllusiveBrian Sep 28 at 17:59
  • 1
    Related: meta.stackexchange.com/a/123377/370679 – dly Sep 29 at 11:18

According to this Meta Stack Exchange post (hat tip to the user dly for linking to this in the comments), new users can post answers to their own questions after a waiting period of 8 hours. That post gives a number of reasons why, which I will briefly summarize as follows:

  1. Many new users mistake the Q&A format for a traditional forum, and try to write "answers" with ancillary information that should have been a comment or edit. By prohibiting them from writing answers at all, we prevent them from doing this (e.g. in response to comments asking for clarification).
  2. We want to encourage other people to answer the question as well, and 8 hours is a reasonable waiting period when you consider the wide variety of time zones that might want to answer a question.
  3. New users might abuse the system if they were allowed to immediately self-answer.

All three of those things are less of an issue if the user has more rep, because they will have a better understanding of this site's model.

Regardless, this is not really something we can change here. If you strongly disagree with this practice, it would need to be (further) discussed on MSE.

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  • Interesting. The linked post is 8 years old, and conflicts with the help page. Which is correct? 15 or 100? The help page also does not state the 8 hour limit. Is it simply the case that this is wrong information? I don't really agree or disagree, I just would like consistency. That's way more important than the details of when users unlock things. Point 2 shouldn't be a problem; solved by the 48 hour accept your own answer minimum. – aphid Sep 30 at 8:40
  • @aphid this is the canonical FAQ: 15 reps for self-answering from the Ask Question page, but no rep and no delay to self-answer after posting the question. – antimo Sep 30 at 17:21

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