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I noticed in the M.Y. rules that it is fine for someone to answer his / her own question.

On a few occasions, I have posted a question that I already have an answer for. I usually don't like to be a "hog". If I post my answer immediately, it may discourage others from answering. Sometimes, other people's answers are better than mine, anyway.

Is there a recommended waiting period before I post my own answer, esp. if no one else posts any answer? Related to this, rather than post my own answer if there is no other, would it be more useful to post a bounty, instead?

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    I don't understand why you wouldn't share what you know right away. Why should someone work to find something that you already know? – Double AA Jun 16 '15 at 16:19
  • @DoubleAA As stated, it's a (possibly misinterpreted) psychology. Sometimes posting an answer immediately "scares" others from posting their own answer, and people see this action as being "pompous". Also, as mentioned, if I see other answers, it may make me rethink my own. There is some sense in "reconsidering" my own answer. – DanF Jun 16 '15 at 16:23
  • "people see this action as being 'pompous'" I don't. Sharing is caring. – Double AA Jun 16 '15 at 16:34
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    I expect that science could be brought to bear on this. SEDE, anybody? Number of answers and time to next answer with and without an immediate self-answer? – Monica Cellio Jun 16 '15 at 16:42
  • @MonicaCellio What is SEDE? – DanF Jun 16 '15 at 16:44
  • Stack Exchange Data Explorer. You can write SQL queries against the SE data dumps (not against the live database). Dumps are refreshed weekly. – Monica Cellio Jun 16 '15 at 16:46
  • @DoubleAA I agree with you that sharing is caring. But, as stated, you also want the "sharing" to be useful. I don't always profess that my answer is good or useful. Sometimes I like to see a different approach before I offer my own. (Pirkei Avot offers the advise that one should not be quick to answer!) The question is how long would be a reasonable wait? – DanF Jun 16 '15 at 16:49
  • @MonicaCellio Hmm... I know SQL, but this seems quite technical! I'll see if I can explore this feature. – DanF Jun 16 '15 at 16:50
  • @MonicaCellio, I gave it a try. Nonclosed questions with one answer get an average of .98 more answers. Nonclosed questions with an immediate self-answer (of which there have only been 76 so far, if my query assumptions are right) get an average of .86 more answers. So, there seems to be some difference, but not a great one. – Isaac Moses Jun 16 '15 at 17:15
  • @IsaacMoses thanks! I suspect (but haven't asked SEDE :-) ) that we have some additional "nearly immediate" self-answers, where the answer wasn't posted at the same instant (using that checkbox) but was posted soon thereafter. I wonder what happens if initial self-answers include answers posted within, say, an hour? (Also, I learned something about joins by reading that, so thank you. :-) ) – Monica Cellio Jun 16 '15 at 18:23
  • @IsaacMoses I'll have to remember to hire you next time I need to compose a complex SQL – DanF Jun 16 '15 at 18:26
  • @MonicaCellio, looks like there are about three times as many of those (241), and that, interestingly, they have 1.66 average additional answers. The sample size is small, but the signs of the differences between these three averages are the same for other sites. It could be that some of these "within an hour" answers were posted after, maybe even inspired by, answers from others. – Isaac Moses Jun 16 '15 at 18:43
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    @DanF, if it's about MY, you can probably induce me to do it for free by writing your question on MY Meta or chat and saying something like "I wonder if it's possible to query for this." – Isaac Moses Jun 16 '15 at 18:45
  • Because @IsaacMoses just can't resist responding when someone wants a query. :) – Scimonster Jun 17 '15 at 3:56
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Not only is it ok to answer your own question, but there's no need to wait at all. In fact, the interface even suggests answering immediately:

answer your question (checkbox)

If you have an answer, please share it. If you would like additional answers, feel free to say (in a comment or in your answer) that you're looking for improvements. Even if you don't say something like that, it's an open question and people are free to add answers.

When I answer a question and then the OP comes along and posts a self-answer that he had all along, I sometimes feel a little like I've wasted my effort -- why did I spend time on that if he already knew what I posted? (Only a little, because I still, I hope, helped make the Internet a better place, but still...) Granted, if you never post your answer others will never know that, and I would say that if you delay you should only post if you have something new to add. That's the price you pay for not offering your answer up front -- you might not get to offer it at all.

If you want to wait to see what others come up with first, I would suggest waiting until you get some answers (that might be right away or not for a while), or, failing that, a couple days. Once the question is off the front page it's less likely to gain answers, so that might be a good time to come back to it.

Finally, you can signal that you still want answers by not be accepting your own.

  • Thanks. Very wise, sensible advice! You mentioned an aspect (I would have to post something new) that I hadn't considered. – DanF Jun 16 '15 at 16:59
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    IINM, you're not able to accept your own answer until two days after asking the question, in any event cc @DanF – Shokhet Jun 16 '15 at 18:20
  • @Shokhet I believe that you are correct. You mean I can't "bribe" someone to accept my answer, either? ;-) – DanF Jun 16 '15 at 18:22
  • @Shokhet you're right that there's a delay, and two days sounds right to me but I haven't verified. – Monica Cellio Jun 16 '15 at 18:24
  • Then i guess you should post more self answered questions. :) – Scimonster Jun 16 '15 at 18:45

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