One of the things driving me away from this forum are the obvious "forced" posts.

Typical is this, a question accompanied by an immediate answer. garnering 62 (and counting) rep points (spread across post and answer) for the poster.

Is this where we are going?


2 Answers 2


What's wrong with that?

I'm not sure what you mean by obvious "forced" posts, but self-answered questions are explicitly encouraged on Stack Exchange. From the help centre:

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.

To encourage people to do this, there is a checkbox at the bottom of the page every time you ask a question. If you have more than 15 reputation and already know the answer, click the checkbox that says "Answer your own question" at the bottom of the Ask Question page. Type in your answer, then submit both question and answer together.

Alternatively, you may go back and add an answer to your own question at any time.

You can also accept your own answer, but you must wait 48 hours to do so. After all, someone else may come along with an even better solution to your problem!

That's not to say self-answered questions are always good, but they should be considered on their own merits, rather than condemned simply for being self-answered.

As always, if you don't like a question or an answer, you're free to downvote it.

On a side note, you seem to be getting very worked up about this issue, as suggested by some of the now-deleted comments you were posting up above, e.g. "resembling clique-like behaviour typical of a small clannish group thriving on circle-jerk congratulatory narcissistic crap". Such disrespect towards other users is not allowed. I suggest you step away from the keyboard and think it over for a while, especially before making any decision as drastic as that of deleting your account. You've made some good and interesting posts here on Literature, and we'd hate to lose you.

  • (I've also written on the topic of self-answered questions here.)
    – Rand al'Thor Mod
    Commented Feb 8, 2017 at 23:31

1) It's my question/answer and I will take reasonable action on it if it stops someone valuable leaving the site

I'm sorry this has caused such consternation. I would prefer to take remedial action than see someone who's made a number of useful contributions leave the beta. We all want this to succeed, and to succeed it needs a wide user base making good contributions.

I'm not sure what action is appropriate in this instance. I would offer to delete the question and/or answer but it seems the majority of users find it helpful or interesting. I don't know if it's possible for me to drop the gained reputation: maybe I could offer it as a bounty on one of your questions?

2) I posted it because asking and answering my own questions is my usual approach to literary questions

When I finish a book that I have enjoyed, it's my usual practice to look up criticism on that book and read around it. If I have particular questions about the book, I will focus my research there.

I read Moby-Dick as an adult (I am not American, and I hadn't twigged it might be a popular study book in the school system) and was fascinated by its structure. I had not read a novel built like that before (although as other commentators have pointed out, there are earlier examples). I had presumed that Melville was writing some sort of historical record: that he wanted to set down how whales were hunted in the age of sail before heavy engineering changed it forever.

On reading some critical essays it became clear that I was mistaken. So, my question is an honest one based on an interest in the book's peculiar structure. And my answer is a distillation of three essays on the subject that I read. I have at least one other self-answered question on the site, which came about by the same process.

That's my motivation. As this is a beta, repeating the questions I could remember asking myself and summarizing what I'd learned seemed a useful way of seeding the site with content.

3) I'm not sure what sort of answers you think it is in the remit of the site to provide

I'm not sure if it's been deleted or not, but at one point you referred to my answer as "sparknotes". I found this a curious criticism because, IMO, that's exactly what the site ought to be aiming at in terms of answers.

Consider. The subject of literature will inevitably attract imprecise questions (something that has not proved problematic on SE sites such as Worldbuilding). These sorts of open questions are probably best answered by exploring the subject at length. But this is a Q&A format in which long essays will make for very poor answers. Therefore it would seem reasonable to expect a good answer to this type of question to be a concise summary of common critical thinking around a subject. And that is exactly what revision notes ought to be.

Perhaps you feel that my answer is too much waffle with insufficient supporting quotes or evidence. I had a quick look at the answers to your questions which you've accepted and it seemed - please excuse me if I'm incorrect - that that was the chief differentiation between those answers and mine. If so, I have a great deal of sympathy with this viewpoint: we should be supporting answers with examples wherever possible. But in the case of Moby-Dick Melville did not leave extensive notes on the composition. And since he is long dead, supposition is the best that we can do.

  • 10
    I have no problem with you posting good questions followed by good answers, PLEASE DONT STOP. I do find it slightly amusing that people are complaining about a question that has over 3 thousands views. (congrats) Commented Feb 9, 2017 at 10:31
  • @MatrimCauthon Thank you. I have no intention of stopping. I would, however, like to learn from this experience in order to make better posts and to stop a useful contributor from leaving.
    – Matt Thrower Mod
    Commented Feb 9, 2017 at 10:43
  • 4
    Please don't. There's nothing to be learned from here. You did the right thing, please don't delete your answer or stop providing valuable content. That's more valuable than the (slightly unclear) feelings of a single individual that didn't choose to express those feelings in the most constructive way to begin with. Commented Feb 9, 2017 at 18:24

You must log in to answer this question.