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Answering your own question is something that is encouraged on stack exchange, which seems reasonable for most forums, but it seems to be somewhat against the approach of scientific skepticism, especially if the answer is posted at the same time as the question as it suggests there is little actual skepticism involved in the question. A better approach would be to include this information in the question, so we know on what basis the person posting the question is skeptical of the claim.

For a good example of this, see this question

Are Easterbrook's oxygen-isotope paleo-temperature reconstructions credible?

where matt_black begins by mentioning a related issue that would cause us to naturally be skeptic of Easterbrooks claim regarding the oxygen isotope proxy.

In the particular case that generated this question, there doesn't seem to be anyone seriously doubting that Mr Williams did commit suicide, and had the sherriff's report was already available, as were reports from much more reliable news outlets than TMZ (which I had never heard of). This doesn't seem like skepticism to me.

I don't see anything wrong with posting an answer to your own question, but I do think the question should include the sort of basic facts that can be found via a cursory investigation, at least to show that there is some genuine cause for skepticism.

Related questions:

"https://skeptics.meta.stackexchange.com/questions/1938/is-it-ok-to-ask-a-question-and-provide-your-own-answer"

Is it polite to accept an answer you have provided to a question you asked?

Answering one's own question for reference purposes?

  • Skepticism isnt doubt. Skepticism is aligning your beliefs with the evidence. There is always reason for that. Each question doesnt need to present "cause" for skepticism. – user5582 Aug 13 '14 at 12:11
  • @Dikram Marsupial, I will definitely downvote this. – George Chalhoub Aug 18 '14 at 22:42
  • @georgechalhoub you surprise me! ;o) – Dikran Marsupial Aug 19 '14 at 8:10
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Yes, it's perfectly fine to answer your own question contextually to posting it. In fact we even provide a checkbox for it.

Tim Farley has posted a good blog post on this recently -- specifically in relation to skeptics.se.

The problem with that question is that it seems like rep-farming -- on the other hand it would be rep-farming even if it had no answer! The problem is of course, that there isn't a real controversy there so the question is not exactly on topic. It doesn't make the internet a better place.

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    cheers @Sklivvz, the blog post seems pretty clear, and george's previous self-answered questions seem much more closely of that nature. I'd never noticed the checkbox! – Dikran Marsupial Aug 13 '14 at 10:47
  • @sklivvz do we require questions to address a controversy? I would say the question is on-topic, but displays no research effort, so it should be kept open and downvoted. – user5582 Aug 13 '14 at 12:09
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    @Articuno questions need to address real problems (this is true on all SE sites). If a claim is not controversial where is the problem? – Sklivvz Aug 13 '14 at 12:29
  • @sklivvz what is our "real problem" standard? Does it need to be the case that a bunch of adults doubt the claim's truth? That would be a new threshold that we haven't used before, I think. – user5582 Aug 13 '14 at 13:50
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    @Articuno I am not sure, but "nobody doubts this claim" seems to disqualify something from being a real problem. – Sklivvz Aug 13 '14 at 13:53
  • @Sklivvz So, I guess with an immediate self-answer that answers in the positive (i.e. "Yes, the claim is true."), the fact that the question was asked is not evidence that even the asker doubts the claim (at least not anymore... they may have at one point). In that case, we would need to check that other people doubt the claim to see if it is on topic. However, as long as the asker doesn't immediately self-answer, their question would be evidence that they aren't convinced of the claim's truth, and thus, a "real problem". Is that a good summary? – user5582 Aug 13 '14 at 14:01
  • @Sklivvz, well actually Williams could have been murdered instead of suicided. TMZ's claim is controversial because it says this is official cause of death but it's not. This official cause of death is not released yet. That was my whole point. – George Chalhoub Aug 14 '14 at 10:23
  • @Sklivvz, I had the full right of being skeptical. – George Chalhoub Aug 14 '14 at 10:23
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    @georgechalhoub I have the full right of doubting that, though. – Sklivvz Aug 14 '14 at 10:24
  • @georgechalhoub wrote "TMZ's claim is controversial because it says this is official cause of death but it's not." the TMZ article says no such thing, just "sources familiar with the situation tell TMZ.". Please stop digging, the hole is of more than adequate depth already. – Dikran Marsupial Aug 14 '14 at 12:46
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Skepticism simply means aligning ones beliefs with the evidence. There is always reason for that and each question doesn't need to provide a cause for the desire to do so.

In this case, the only problem with the question is that the question does not demonstrate any research effort, so it should be downvoted.

  • Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation has been moved to chat. – Sklivvz Aug 14 '14 at 17:25

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