What's the community's take on asking a question in order to answer it so that it will serve as a future reference? This might be tied to the meta question, Should we expect original research to occur on this site.

For my particular example: I was pitched a multi-level marketing program about a year and half ago. It was very early in the morning and I was quite excited about the financial prospects of "partnering" with this acquaintance of mine in his newfound business.

I got home and began trying to research the company, called Fortune Hi-Tech Marketing, FHTM. Well, anal analyzer/skeptic that I am... that turned into a 20ish page mathematical analysis. I concluded that this company is, in fact, a pyramid scheme and should be avoided like the plague. I finished my last revision in Aug 2010 and THIS USA Today article, to my delight, nearly matched my predicted mathematical model of actual earnings for representatives.

In any case, those trying to look into this company will be met by incredibly divisive blog posts, YouTube videos, reassurances from those involved, some state government cease-and-desist issuances, etc. Unfortunately, friends often have a higher pull than objective facts and I worry that some might be pulled into something like this.

To finish up, I thought about asking a question just to link to my paper and present the summary since skeptics.SE seems to have a pretty high page rank -- if you search for a question's title via a reasonably close phrase, the skeptics.SE post will appear even if it was very recent. So... I see the primary purpose of the site as answering other people's questions, but I see some value in any who have already conducted extensive research on something posting their own answers. If anyone else comes along wondering, the answer will be found. My answer would be the same as if someone else had asked the question, and there has been at least ONE around this area (not this company) so far.

Is there a pre-existing policy/recommendation on something like this?

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    I'm featuring this. I think that's an important discussion to have.
    – Borror0
    Commented Jun 8, 2011 at 22:54

3 Answers 3


The FAQ says:

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.

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    Wow -- who knew it was that easy to find. Here I was searching meta for "answering own" and "answer own question" and "own question." Silly me. Self halo-bias led me to believe I'd asked something too clever to be in the FAQ...
    – Hendy
    Commented Jun 9, 2011 at 1:54

Dori is spot on. But as a courtesy, I typically wait a day or two before providing my own answer. And don't forget that your own answer still has to meet the standards of a Skeptics answer: Include references. In this case, it would help if you hosted the mathematical analysis somewhere people could browse if they wanted. I find math is good as a terminus reference so I don't think anyone will mind.

  • I agree entirely re. references and quality. I was planning on posting a summary as well as a link to the full paper, which is filled with all of the data tables and corresponding math in a walk through type of format. Good suggestion with respect to waiting a couple of days.
    – Hendy
    Commented Jun 9, 2011 at 14:14
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    @hendy it is sometimes friendly to wait a little bit before self-answering or leave a comment on your own question indicating you plan to self-answer (which you can later delete), depending on your goals and what you wish to accomplish. Commented Jun 11, 2011 at 9:56
  • @Jeff: that sounds good and makes sense. I liked MrHen's suggestion above, which states the same and plan to follow that track :)
    – Hendy
    Commented Jun 11, 2011 at 15:37
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    Some people seem to be interpreting this as official policy: Thou shalt not self-answer for a few days. That's not the case. Please note: @Jeff said it is "sometimes friendly [...] depending on your goals". In Podcast #20 he described more immediate action in some other cases. I think it can just be frustrating in some cases to say "I have evidence, but I am deliberately withholding it from you."
    – Oddthinking Mod
    Commented Oct 17, 2011 at 17:53

I think the question here should be not so much "answering one's own question", but "answering, referring ones own research". Should this be allowed/encouraged?

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    Good point, though I see them as subsets. In other words, I was asking if I can ask a question already knowing I'm planning on answering, though in this particular instance it also includes my own original research, which is why I linked to that question as well.
    – Hendy
    Commented Jun 12, 2011 at 3:52

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