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I want to ask a question where I believe I know the answer but am not 100% confident in my own answer, so would it be good practice to ask it, answer myself and see what others have to say about it all?

Conversely, I see a few questions that contain a story where the author's question and original answer is included in a new question usually something like "Is my approach correct?".

I am opposed to the latter style but am wondering what the best practice would be on here...

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    I'm disappointed you didn't post your own answer here, instead choosing to include a proposed answer in the body of the question... ;-)
    – AviD Mod
    Apr 25 '16 at 21:33
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    Crap, you got me! Apr 26 '16 at 11:22
  • It is an easy trap to fall into, isn't it though.
    – AviD Mod
    Apr 26 '16 at 14:15
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    If you are not completely wrong, but only subtly wrong, and the question does not get a lot of attention, there is a risk that you will not be peer reviewed, and gather a couple of upvotes and no criticism. If you make it clear in the question what details you are not sure about, people are more likely to pay attention to them.
    – Anders
    Apr 26 '16 at 20:46
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    There's the "Community Wiki" button on your answer. You get no points for the answer, but people can edit it.
    – mgjk
    Apr 29 '16 at 12:27
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Basically - yes, you should feel encouraged to answer your own question, if you think you know the answer.

From the FAQ:

Can I answer my own question?

Yes! Stack Exchange has always explicitly encouraged users to answer their own questions. If you have a question that you already know the answer to, and you would like to document that knowledge in public so that others (including yourself) can find it later, it's perfectly okay to ask and answer your own question on a Stack Exchange site.

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    I was thinking more in terms of if I answer with something that I know may not be accurate in hopes that others more knowledgeable would be able to critique my own knowledge. I guess this is the same thing though. Apr 26 '16 at 14:30
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    Just saying, I'm not sure this completely applies to the question being asked. He's not asking "Can I answer if I know?" he's asking "Can I answer partially incorrectly, and have other people correct my answer?" Not really the same thing at all. You even wrote "[...] if you think you know the answer". Apr 29 '16 at 14:56
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    @WorseDoughnut if it's incorrect then someone may edit it or comment on it. Worst case is someone answers saying the other answer is terribly incorrect and dangerous and it should be downvoted into oblivion. May 6 '16 at 7:56
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Building off your comment on AviD's answer:

AviD: Basically - yes, you should feel encouraged to answer your own question, if you think you know the answer.

You: I was thinking more in terms of if I answer with something that I know may not be accurate in hopes that others more knowledgeable would be able to critique my own knowledge.

I'd say, that with a little bit of re-phrasing, you can just include what you think the answer is as part of your question, and explain that as such in the body of the question as well.

ex:

As far as I know, x does y when configured withz. Is this assumption correct? If not, how should I [blah blah blah] ...

This way, other users who might know the more complete / correct answer (assuming you're wrong about your initial assumption) can correct you, and offer the same train-of-thought correction (from yours to the correct one) to future users who might have the same hypothetical misconceptions as you do.

I'm also recommending this on the off chance that you're 1001% wrong in your assumption. Worst case, your question gets buried, and your wrong answer is the only "answer" available to future users who are looking up the same info you were hoping to get clarification on.


so tl;dr this

Conversely, I see a few questions that contain a story where the author's question and original answer is included in a new question usually something like "Is my approach correct?".

would be my personal "best practice" choice in terms of clarity for the future.

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    I gotta say, I see those types of questions far too often, and almost always they irk me to no end. It usually winds up being a case of X/Y problem, and then instead of just answering the question we have to fix the question before we can answer it.
    – AviD Mod
    Jan 18 '18 at 9:44
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Self-answers are generally encouraged here, as it builds up a knowledge database. But I would disagree with @AviDs answer.

Building a knowledge database doesn't seem to be your intention. What you really seem to want is to know if X is true, which is clearly a question, not an answer.

Pro your idea

The only downside I see of making it a question is that if you are indeed correct, it is unlikely that someone will post an answer that basically just says "you are right", which would then mean that the amount of unanswered questions increases. The solution to that would be to hope that someone just posts that, maybe underlined with some sources or further explanation.

Contra your idea

The downside of posting your own maybe false answer is that you aren't actually sure about it. People unknowingly post wrong answers all the time, but I don't think it's ideal to knowingly post answers that may very well be wrong. It adds unnecessary noise, and may mislead people. And what if nobody contradicts you, even though you are wrong? On QnA sites, it is expected that answers are true as far as the person posting them is concerned.

So at a minimum, you would need to add a disclaimer to your answer, eg "I have serious doubt in the correctness of this answer, and I am primarily posting it to get feedback on by though process". But such a disclaimer really only shows that this is a question, not an answer.

Additionally, the QnA format isn't really build for this. Downvoting costs points, the character limit on comments is quite restrictive, deleted comments can't be seen, comments can't be edited, and so on.

tl;dr Answers shouldn't be used to post questions as it doesn't fit the QnA format or this sites mechanisms. "Is X correct" is a perfectly valid question, but "X, maybe? please comment" is not a good answer.

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  • So basically you are saying that it would be best to post the question and my proposed answer in the main question itself, right? May 1 '16 at 23:19
  • @MatthewPeters Yes, that's how I would do it.
    – tim
    May 2 '16 at 7:34
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This is what the wildly under-used "Community Wiki" button is for.

You get no reputation on the answer, but other people can edit it and improve it.

I'll post this as a community wiki answer so people can edit it. If I put some grammatical and spelling mistakes, then it's bound to get edits.

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You can do both. You post your question, clearly stating the points where you aren't clear, and in the second part of the question you lay out what your answer is.

Then you also post the same, formatted as an answer, as a Community Wiki answer. Include in the answer only the parts that you're sure about, and clearly highlight the "missing" parts (with maybes, maybe). Include examples. This allows people to:

  • upvote or downvote the answer, giving you feedback on it without the hassle for people of writing a (probably doomed to downvoting) one-line answer such as "Yes, that's how I would do it".
  • edit, expand and clarify the answer. If they want to add a reference they can do just that.

In time, hopefully, either the Community answer will be upvoted and judged correct, or it would grow into the correct answer anyway.

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