It seems like there is a conflict between values when asking a question. On the one hand, asking and answering your own question is allowed, and even encouraged. On the other hand, questioners are asked to include any research they have done, and are asked not to conceal anything that would be relevant to the answer.

If someone asks a question and knows an answer, how should he balance these two values? Take this question, for instance. The questioner knew an answer ("In a lecture on the laws of Ribbis which I heard from R' Pinchos Vind Shlita of Yerushalayim...") but made no mention of it in the question. This might have been because he wanted to answer his own question. However, this seems to be concealing research. If he would have included it in the question, though, he would not have been able to answer the question.

How should one ask such questions?

Here are a bunch of Meta questions that relate to this, but don't quite explicitly address how to deal with the clash of values:

If I know the answer to a question..............

How to handle "clothesline for my cute vort" questions?

Should I populate this site with questions?

Should we populate Shut on this site?

Reposting quiz questions


As I wrote in my answer to If I know the answer to a question..............:

Consequently, I think it's important to make sure to write all questions from the point of view of someone who doesn't know an answer, and accordingly, include as much information as possible to help answerers. In particular, if your Q&A is motivated by the fact that you were curious about something, found an answer, and want to share it with the world, you should remember what you were thinking in the curious phase when writing the question.


On the other hand, if the question mainly comes from knowing the answer and wanting to let people know about it, it may be difficult to express it in a useful, non-leading way.

If the question arose from genuine curiosity before you knew the answer you know (or can be written sincerely from such a point of view), then writing from the point of view of that curious state isn't concealing any part of what motivated the question. Had you written the question when you didn't have the answer yet, it would have been a good question; the fact that you've learned something since doesn't change the fitness of that text for our Q&A model.

If, on the other hand, the question is (written as if it is) motivated by having an answer and wanting to present it on Mi Yodeya, then the motivation for the question is willfully missing from the question, which tends to result in a poor question post. Actual riddles, which are constructed by taking an answer and then coming up with an obscure and challenging way to prompt people to come up with it, are an extreme form of this pattern.

  • What I think this does not address is the redundancy of research issue. If someone could have been curious about the topic then it is a good question, but once you know a source that addresses it and don't reveal it, you are concealing research which may waste others' time. On the other hand, if you include it in the question then you have no answer and can't share the genuinely valuable knowledge at all.
    – Alex
    May 24 '18 at 16:15
  • If you want to not waste people's time, write the answer. You can guarantee that no one will ever see the question without the answer by checking the "Answer your own question – share your knowledge, Q&A-style" box at the bottom of the "Ask a question" form and posting the question and the answer simultaneously.
    – Isaac Moses Mod
    May 24 '18 at 16:46
  • So perhaps that should be the official policy when answering your own question?
    – Alex
    May 24 '18 at 16:50
  • @Alex I guess we'd always prefer that whoever has the knowledge and ability to answer a question would do so as soon as possible. I don't think we can or should enforce that, though. Note that if a question is written from the point-of-view of sincere curiosity as I've described, it is by definition impossible to tell that the author knew of an answer while writing the question and didn't learn of it later.
    – Isaac Moses Mod
    May 24 '18 at 17:07

On Mi Yodeya virtually all answers are source-based. That means that if you know an answer to the question, you by definition know a source that relates to the question. If you ask the question without mentioning the source, you are concealing information/research.

Perhaps what you can do is mention in the question that you have a source that addresses this question, and that you will post it as an answer. You can even state what the source is. This way you have not concealed your research but you can still post it as an answer. Additionally, when you mention your source in the question, another reader might be able to create the answer based on the source.

See for example this question, where I did just that (though there it was somewhat different as I was not trying to answer my own question, but to find additional answers because the one I had was unsatisfactory).

  • 1
    You can also say "I've read R. Ploni's discussion of the case. Do you know any other sources?" May 24 '18 at 17:05
  • @Kazibácsi That works if you're actually looking for other answers. But what if you just want to share "R. Ploni's" answer?
    – Alex
    May 24 '18 at 17:20

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