community July 1, 2011

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…
Avatar for Jeff Atwood
Co-Founder (Former)

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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