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Is it ok to ask a question that you already know the answer to, or plan to research the answer to?

The only discussion I found was old, and possiblly out of date. Newer comments in multiple threads make me doubt my answer? Has Skeptics.SE had the same policy in this regard, or has it ever changed? Does it differ from other SE sites?

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Answering your own questions is perfectly fine and even encouraged. But in addition to the general SE position on this, most communities are more critical of self-answered questions than otherwise. Self-answered questions are expected to conform to a higher standard, they should be about something interesting you discovered and want to share. Posting mediocre questions and self-answering them usually causes a significant negative reaction by the community.

Now, you self-answered quite a few questions and got significant negative reactions from the community and from us moderators. The reason is not the fact that you self-answered, but that your questions are on controversial political topics and we get the distinct impression that your questions are motivated by more than curiosity.

Stack Exchange is not your personal blog, it is not a platform to publish your own political viewpoints. The impression that this is what you are doing is leading to the negative reactions, not the fact that you are self-answering.

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Some people have been known to frame their questions in such a way that it shows a clear preference for one answer rather than the other - and then immediately provide a rather dubious answer supporting that position (and in some cases do it repeatably, giving no indication that their prior beliefs are vulnerable to the evidence provided). Questions should be asked out of a genuine interest in finding out the evidence-based answer - whatever it may be - not as a push-poll.

There is certainly nothing wrong with answering your own questions. However, conclusions should be in the answers, not the questions.

  • The question can be edited to remove any conclusions from them. (And should) – user1873 Oct 5 '12 at 12:07
  • Also, " giving no indication that their prior beliefs are vulnerable to the evidence provided", don't questions and answers help other/future users find useful information. I don't see how providing more information, even if the OPs mind cannot be swayed has any bearing. If you don't provide a counter answer, then you aren't providing an alternative for future users. – user1873 Oct 5 '12 at 12:14
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    @user1873: I certainly agree on the first point. As to the second, I don't see it as a requirement, and there is certainly use in "improving the internet". However, it's not particularly fun getting into repeated arguments with a brick wall. Plus, this is skeptics.SE, not randomargumentsaboutreality.SE, and a vital part of skepticism is the willingness to subject your own beliefs to critical thinking and evidence. – Joel Rein Oct 5 '12 at 18:57
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As you yourself supplied, it is okay in terms of how StackExchange is structured. However, there is a certain amount of integrity and intellectual honesty that must be applied when selecting the answer as the one which will be given the distinction of being the accepted answer at the site. Just because a question receives answers, and the answer receives subsequent votes, doesn't necessarily make it right, however there may be some indicators that the answer is better supported by facts. Should an answer not be in line with your own perception of the "correct" answer, you are being nothing more than an ideologue, and are close minded. Not the goal of this site.

I often learn new material when researching an answer, or even reading other people's answers. As Carl Sagan famously said:

In science it often happens that scientists say, "You know that's a really good argument; my position is mistaken," and then they would actually change their minds and you never hear that old view from them again. They really do it. It doesn't happen as often as it should, because scientists are human and change is sometimes painful. But it happens every day. I cannot recall the last time something like that happened in politics or religion.

Keynote address at CSICOP conference (1987), as quoted in Do Science and the Bible Conflict? (2003) by Judson Poling, p. 30

If you are so convinced that your position is correct, and cannot fathom why people do not agree with you, I suggest that you examine your claim to intelligence and skepticism...

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    This meta question is not about accepted answers. It might be worthwhile to open another meta question about accepted answers. – user1873 Oct 5 '12 at 2:45
  • "I often learn new material when researching an answer, or even reading other people's answers." All the more reason to encourage people to ask answer their own questions – user1873 Oct 5 '12 at 12:18
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    @user1873 true enough; except when the answer they provide is a predetermined litany based on presupposed "facts" based on their opinion. – Larian LeQuella Oct 6 '12 at 2:52
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Yes. I am going to answer my own question here.

From the FAQ:

Please look around to see if your question has been asked before. It’s also OK to ask and answer your own question.

and linked blog post:

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. ...

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!

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