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With my question "Does Gaydar Exist" I may have taken the "make sure your question is well'researched" guideline a bit too far

I've attempted a few questions in the past where my own research ended up self-answering, but I didn't really see that happening here (although I very possibly may be wrong in that thinking). Frankly, I thought the data I cited in the question was preliminary at best, and therefore quite worthy of skepticism. While I found it interesting, I didn't find it decisive in any way. And I asked the question specifically hoping someone with more knowledge could add some clarity or more detail to the issue with their answer, even if it turns out the answer is "still needs more study."

It seems quite a few people think the data provided answers the question. How should I handle this? Even though the question has quite a few upvotes, I don't mind deleting it if it's not going to lead to a productive answer.

Should I delete some of the data I cited and see if that makes it more answerable? Somehow this idea seems stupid and counterproductive.

Should I leave it open and see what happens? If it's not going to attract a quality answer, it seems unwise to leave it open.

Should I re-word the question in a way that makes it more clear that I don't feel what I'm asking is really "answered" by the data I provided? If so, does anyone have any suggestions? I have a feeling I'm brain-farting somewhere on this one.

Or am I just missing something else entirely?

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Why not just extract the answer from the question and post it as … an answer?

  • I thought about that. But I'd have to do a bit more research because, the main problem is I'm not convinced by the evidence yet, even though others seem to be. If someone else wants to run with that, it sounds like a good idea would appreciated. – Monkey Tuesday Jun 21 '11 at 4:44
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    @monkey regardless, this "question with half an answer embedded in it" is kind of an abomination, and should be rectified. So what if it's a partial answer, at least post it as a traditional Q&A pair.. – Jeff Atwood Jun 21 '11 at 4:45
  • I agree. I just figured I should at least ask about it, as it isn't a problem I've encountered before. – Monkey Tuesday Jun 21 '11 at 4:50
  • Sorry. I think you gave me be the best answer, but I just shot the question, rather than figure out how to deal with it in a way that work. Honestly I shouldn't have put the question out there as poorly formed as it was. – Monkey Tuesday Jun 21 '11 at 4:58
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    ok....apparently you give a badge for that. – Monkey Tuesday Jun 21 '11 at 4:59
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And I asked the question specifically hoping someone with more knowledge could add some clarity or more detail to the issue with their answer, even if it turns out the answer is "still needs more study."

The problem here seems to be that anyone likely to research an answer for you would have followed the same path that you did in researching the question, and might not come up with more conclusive data without significantly more effort (if at all - this may simply not be a heavily-studied area).

If it makes you feel any better, I've run into this problem on other sites: the same traits / study habits that enable me to answer questions effectively also limit the questions I can sincerely ask.

Jeff's suggestion (state your question in the question, and move your research into an answer) is probably the most effective solution... It leaves the question open and answered but with the possibility that someone else will come along later and add new information.

The alternative (simply removing the research from the question entirely so that someone else can post it as an answer) is somewhat disingenuous and more than a little risky - at best, you're forcing someone else to duplicate your efforts in the hope that they'll come up with better results, and there's a decent possibility they'll end up doing worse and consequently hurting the question.

It's worth remembering (it's always worth remembering...) that the primary value of any Q&A comes from the information it provides to 3rd-party readers. I've asked only one popular question ever, and when I finally self-answered it I did so feeling great disappointment - obvious, no one else was interested in the subject, right? Since then, the question has garnered many other answers, some quite good, and has served as a reference for answers to other questions. It may not be as instantly-gratifying as posting a question in the evening and waking up next morn to find a perfect comprehensive answer posted to it... But in the long run, these can prove far more useful than the questions that can be answered in minutes by anyone with decent research skills.

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