It’s OK to Ask and Answer Your Own Questions

The FAQ has contained one key bit of advice from the very beginning:

It’s also perfectly fine to ask and answer your own question, as long as you pretend you’re on Jeopardy! — phrase it in the form of a question.

So …

  • if you have a question that you already know the answer to
  • if you’d like to document it in public so others (including yourself) can find it later
  • it is OK to ask, and answer, your own question on a relevant Stack Exchange site.

To be crystal clear, it is not merely OK to ask and answer your own question, it is explicitly encouraged.

I do it all the time! For example, when I ran into a nasty issue with Java exploits in Google Chrome when browsing for images, I documented that on Super User by asking and answering my own question. Now, others can benefit from my misfortune — and best of all, I got new even better answers beyond what I offered! Overall, a huge win all around.

Friend of the company Dana Robinson recently wrote:

On a project I’m working on at my current job, I’ve come across some really pernicious problems where there is either

  • no good information available or
  • the good information is buried under a sea of bad information.

I’ve kept these issues in the back of my head and, now that that part of the project is winding down and the issues are resolved, I plan to go on Stack Overflow and create a high-value question and answer pair for each issue. That way, the next person who has the problem won’t have to slog through so much misinformation. I might even learn some more about the various issues that plagued us if other experts chime in with their own knowledge.

Bottom line — never hesitate to ask and answer your own question on any Stack Exchange site. Please do! It’s all part of our shared mission to make the internet better.

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Author

Jeff Atwood
Co-Founder (Former)

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Comments

  1. All I wanna see is how long do people think America will last. The Mayans Greeks, Persians, and even Austrian Hungary and many other countries have failed. Will we?

  2. Great post. I was checking constantly this blog and I am impressed!
    Extremely useful info particularly the last part
    🙂 I care for such info much. I was looking for this certain info for a long
    time. Thank you and best of luck.

  3. That’s funny because back in 2017, our team was doing something similar to that.

    We were not answering our very own questions, but every time someone in the team asked something, he or she would share the question with the rest rather than just asking privately as this was more thrilling.

    We were also sharing our answers in a Slack group. Sometimes that meant someone would suggest improvements, some other times someone else would post another answer on that same question and some other times, if we thought that was actually a good answer, we would upvote it.

    Funny enough, 2 of us got a not-so-friendly message from some admins and a reputation correction, so I don’t really get you when you say you want to encourage collaboration and sharing and then when a close group of Engineers start using StackOverflow frequently, that happens…

    1. Ryan Donovan says:

      Do you remember the message? It sounds like it may have looked like you all had a voting ring going on if the same folks were upvoting each other’s questions. We try to prevent people from gaming the system, and I’m sorry you got hit by it.

  4. Abhijeet Gokar says:

    This is an amazing feature.

  5. […] myself re-looking for the answer, so I post it here as documentation for myself and others. This is encouraged on […]

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