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Though it is technically possible is it is not against the site rules, I wonder if accepting an answer posted to one's own question is an advisable way to proceed.

It may look fine, but making one's own answer the "accepted" one seems a bit too stretched and too self-referential to me. It also appears somewhat biased given the "circular" nature of question-answer from the same person.

This is not to say that the information provided and the research shown in the accepted answers are not good but it sounds like the OP already knew the answer they were looking for was before asking ( so why ask?)

P.S. nothing personal with any user, I just would like to understand what's the community view on this issue.

  • 1
    It's actually strongly encouraged to answer one's own questions. See english.stackexchange.com/help/self-answer – NVZ Dec 20 '17 at 11:16
  • Read about accepting own answers here: stackoverflow.blog/2009/01/06/accept-your-own-answers – NVZ Dec 20 '17 at 11:20
  • @NVZ - I have nothing against answering own's own questions, but accepting them has a different flavor. – user240918 Dec 20 '17 at 11:21
  • @NVZ - I looking for opinions from this community. – user240918 Dec 20 '17 at 11:24
  • Yeah, you will get opinions from this community. The blog I linked to is maintained by the co-founder of the stack exchange network himself. Worth reading, in the meantime. – NVZ Dec 20 '17 at 11:25
  • My question is: Are you asking about Mari-Lou's particular answer, or about SE's policy in general? The blog answers the general policy. – NVZ Dec 20 '17 at 11:28
  • @NVZ - I think my question is clear, no personal reference. – user240918 Dec 20 '17 at 11:29
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    I have no issue with accepting one’s own answers. The tick mark means “this answer was most directly applicable to me, the question asker”. Typically, people only self-answer when none of the other answers they received were completely helpful, or they all were and the OP wants to consolidate the highlights in a single post. In either of cases, the new, OP answer is the most applicable to OP by definition, and therefore the acceptance is serving its designed purpose. – Dan Bron Dec 20 '17 at 13:29
  • Only when OP has an ideological axes to grind, and all the non-OP answers he got point out its false premises or otherwise give it the lie, causing OP to self-post the answer they wanted to see (and therefore the question asked in bad faith, because OP knew “the answer” in advance) does self-acceptance seem self-serving and contrary to the spirit of the rules. But even then the system is set up that not much harm can be done: self-accepted answers sort strictly based on votes, like any other answer (as opposed to non-self accepts which stick to the top). – Dan Bron Dec 20 '17 at 13:32
  • And incorrect or unpopular self-accepts, like most answers which are contrary to the bulk of the other answers or fly in the face of common sense, typically end up being heavily downvoted, and therefore sort at or towards the bottom of the list, and at that level, the self-accept checkmark is easily seen for what it in such cases: self-aggrandizing ego-stroking (aka mental masturbation). So all in, self-acceptance is fine; the system works. – Dan Bron Dec 20 '17 at 13:35
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    @DanBron - wouldn't the possible other users' votes be enough in this case? Accepting one's answer is like upvoting oneself. – user240918 Dec 20 '17 at 13:41
  • @DanBron All fair points. Mentioned by Jeff as well. It's in the blogs linked above. – NVZ Dec 20 '17 at 13:42
  • @user159691 Be enough for what? No matter how many other people vote, it can never send the signal “this is the answer most directly useable by the person who asked the question” because OP can only ever cast one vote, and it’s anonymous, and all other votes are cast by people who are not OP. Let’s not invest the checkmark with some significance or power it doesn’t have. It does not mean “the best answer”; it’s merely a visible upvote by OP. – Dan Bron Dec 20 '17 at 13:44
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    @NVZ- that makes sense. It really looks like "hey, look how good I am" Does it? There are 4 other answers which have attracted more upvotes. If visitors select to view the highest score first your answer will be at the top of the pile, while the accepted answer (mine) will be at the bottom. – Mari-Lou A Dec 21 '17 at 9:16
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Provided that it is done under the right circumstances, I see nothing wrong with it. One thing that needs to be considered is that it is not as if Stack Exchange has simply neglected the possibility of doing it. They are fully aware of what they have done, and actually decided to build in limitations which severely limit the negative effects of any abuse or undue bias.

It does not come with the usual benefits of an accepted answer: It will neither be sorted to the top automatically, nor will it earn you reputation points. The only thing given to you is a big green checkmark, which means significantly less when self-awarded than it does when it is awarded as a show of appreciation for what somebody else believes to be the single best answer out of all of other tries. Stack Exchange also imposes a 48 hour limit on accepting your own answer, which forces the original questioner to at least consider accepting somebody else's answer if any potentially better ones come along within that time frame.

If it was something the network designers really did not want you to do under any circumstance, they would not limit it like this. It would be easier to prevent you from being able to do it at all. In consideration of these factors, and the fact that self-accepted answers from the same account are automatically disclosed, I see nothing unethical about it, provided that it is not done from a fraudulent account to abuse the system to gain unfair advantages and give people the impression that your answer is better than it really is.

People accepting their own answer may even be somewhat of a boon for us. There are a couple of reasons for this: The first is that the gamification of Stack Exchange is a secondary concern: Our ultimate goal is to teach and learn from each-other, and anything which may facilitate that process is something we want to allow. We want to encourage people to try and research their own questions, and share any interesting information they find with us. That is why we allow answering your own question in the first place. It is also why we allow partial answers to questions, even from people who are having the same problem. Just so long as the question is not too simple, we want to pick our members' brains apart until everything they are willing to share under any circumstances is archived and on display. If that means indulging some egotism, then so be it.

Also remember that answer acceptance is not an indicator of which answer is the best or most correct to anybody other than the original poster, so if their own answer to their question really does makes the most sense to them, that is the one that should be accepted, until somebody else comes along and persuades them that there is a better answer by providing it. In this respect, a self-accepted answer sets the minimum bar of quality that the questioner expects of future answers, because they surely will not accept an answer that is worse than the currently accepted answer, and especially not when it is their own.

This is not to say it is always a good thing to do. Indeed, accepting too many of your own answers may suggest that your personal bias towards yourself clouds your judgement, which is perhaps useful for letting other members know that they should not necessarily trust you. In order to avoid this perception, before you accept your own answer, you should really try to think long and hard about if your answer really is the best answer, or if your personal bias is clouding your ability to accurately judge it.

  • Nice answer; your last paragraph well summarizes the pros and cons of it. Something users should keep in mind I think. – user240918 Dec 20 '17 at 20:06
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Ultimately, it's just a green check mark.

I have probably answered a larger proportion of my own questions than any other question asker on EL&U—44 questions, 22 answers. This is how it happens:

  1. I start with a reasonably simple initial question and undertake some research into its particulars so that I can "show research."

  2. (a) The research becomes far too extensive to include in a question, even a very lengthy question; or (b) the research answers what had been the original question but raises multiple followup questions.

  3. I post the question, showing some of my research.

  4. (a) Other site participants post one or more excellent answers that cover some but not all of the issues I asked about or that suggest additional areas of research that I hadn't thought of when doing my original research; or (b) the question draws little interest and only cursory answers.

  5. (a) I supplement the excellent answers with an answer of my own that cites further information that they did not include; or (b) I fill the void of in-depth answers with a detailed answer.

In some cases, I think that my response is the best answer among the ones posted; in others, I have no doubt that one of the others is better or just as good. But either way, I don't think it's useful to view the posted responses as being in competition with one another for a prize that must be awarded for the sake of completeness. Indeed, the more open-ended or complex one of my questions is, the less I am inclined to accept any answer posted in response to it.

So the reason I've never accepted one of my own answers isn't that decorum or a sense of false modesty about its relative merit (in my opinion) inhibits me—it's that I'm not convinced that a substantially better answer may not still be out there somewhere, awaiting discovery and formulation. But that's just the way I look at answer acceptance. Other people have very different ideas about the importance of identifying the best current answer to the questions they've asked; and if—like me—they sometimes think that their answer is the best one, I see no reason why they shouldn't indicate their preference with a green check mark.

  • It's also possible to answer one's own question with something short and succinct. Example: english.stackexchange.com/a/423142/112436. And sometimes someone will write a question and an answer, to have the information in the canon and to be able to refer to it. Or to have a full, standard answer to something that tends to come up with a certain frequency. I'm not sure I've come across this yet at ELU, but I believe I've seen it at Academia and Spanish Language. – aparente001 Dec 20 '17 at 20:28
2

When I am the OP I can accept any damn answer I choose. Thank you.

When accepting my own answer I earned no rep. Why did I post an answer? I wasn't particularly enamored by the answers submitted, so I went forth and did my own research.

If someone strongly disagrees, they can award a bounty on a different answer.


From the comments

  1. @DanBron - wouldn't the possible other users' votes be enough in this case? Accepting one's answer is like upvoting oneself.@user159691 (link)

No accepting one's own answer is NOT the same as upvoting it. The single upvote on the accepted answer is not mine, it is someone else's. But the green check mark is, and it's in plain view, as everyone can see. If people disagree or dislike the answer they can downvote it, or upvote any of the other four answers. There is no foul play.

  1. @NVZ- that makes sense. It really looks like "hey, look how good I am" (link)

Does it? There are 4 other answers which have attracted more upvotes. If visitors select to view the highest score first, the accepted answer (mine) will be at the bottom of the pile.

  1. @DanBron - yes, but when it is asked and answered by the same user I wonder which rationale is in play. @user159691 (link)

The rationale in play is that the answer(s) didn't fully address the question, pretty much like the wardrobe and closet answer despite receiving 82 upvotes, it didn't get an upvote from me, and I didn't accept it. I was about to write an answer myself when @1006a posted a wonderfully detailed and original answer. It is a great pity that their effort has passed by largely unnoticed, their answer deserves greater credit and recognition.

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    While I understand why you posted this, as it is framed, the question is more general. And it would be a bigger and more lasting benefit to the community to post an answer which is more general, and speaks to why accepting one’s own answers is permissible. – Dan Bron Dec 20 '17 at 15:44
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    @DanBron I don't have the time, nor the inclination to justify my action. If accepting one's own answer was against the rules, I wouldn't be allowed to do it. I am not the first, nor will I be the last. – Mari-Lou A Dec 20 '17 at 15:47
  • Singling you out was not the OP's intention. And besides, the question is now edited to remove all links to you. – NVZ Dec 20 '17 at 18:13
  • Uhm... Okay, that was a total 180 right there. – NVZ Dec 20 '17 at 18:44
  • @NVZ strange how user159691's answer was linked in the original meta question, not my question on EL&U, and not the accepted answer... – Mari-Lou A Dec 20 '17 at 18:44
  • @NVZ what does 180 mean? – Mari-Lou A Dec 20 '17 at 18:45
  • @Mari-LouA LOL. "Please include the research you have done..." grammarpartyblog.com/2012/12/03/180-360-where-are-we-again is a start. – NVZ Dec 20 '17 at 18:49
  • My earlier comment meant that OP had no intention to single you out, or to get a response from you. So I mentioned that hoping you'd take the hint and remove the answer (if you want to). But instead, you chose to include more links to your posts. That's the 180. :) // So, anyways, it's been a long time since we talked. Hope life's good on your side of the world. :) – NVZ Dec 20 '17 at 18:53
  • @NVZ good that's settled, because I have nothing to be ashamed of or embarrassed. I have done nothing wrong ethically. I want everyone on meta to know I accepted an answer of mine. – Mari-Lou A Dec 20 '17 at 18:54
  • @Mari-LouA Nobody said you did wrong. I'm on your team, in case you didn't notice. :P Also, I miss your presence on IPS. – NVZ Dec 20 '17 at 18:56
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    @Mari-LouA "do a 180" it's not on ELU? Anyway it means to do a total about face, turn 180 degrees, go directly in the opposite direction you were going in. – Mitch Dec 20 '17 at 20:08
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    @Mitch - Thanks for explaining the idiom. I would just add that it's sudden. Also: about-face, swing in the other direction. – aparente001 Dec 21 '17 at 13:12

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