Last night, I awoke with a question about a relatively obscure poem in my head and thought it might be worth a question here. This morning I thought I'd google before posting it and found my answer.

The last time I posted a self-answered question, we lost a user. It's made me nervous of doing the same thing again.

Is it worthwhile for a relatively niche topic? FWIW I wondered why one singular poem by a modern poet, who normally eschews meter and rhyme, featured both. The answer is that it's a translation of a traditional song rather than something entirely self-penned.

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    "The last time I posted a self-answered question, we lost a user. It's made me nervous of doing the same thing again." What?
    – user111
    Commented Aug 9, 2017 at 9:59
  • It was this question/answer pair: literature.stackexchange.com/questions/1427/… - someone (who had added some good content themselves) was apparently outraged by what they saw as a poor quality answer getting so many votes that they presumed it was a purposeful vote hook and deleted their account in protest. You can still see the answering comments I left to their - now deleted - comments. You'll note I still haven't accepted the answer as I'm still a little sore about it.
    – Matt Thrower Mod
    Commented Aug 9, 2017 at 10:05
  • 7
    That's bizarre. I wouldn't worry about it; if it wasn't the self answer they probably would have found another reason to quit.
    – user111
    Commented Aug 9, 2017 at 10:10

4 Answers 4


There's absolutely nothing wrong with it, and it's actually encouraged.

Don't let one user who rage quit discourage you from participating helpfully to the site. As you can see from the voting on the thread they created, the community clearly doesn't agree with that viewpoint. Stack Exchange is very clearly in favor of self answers; there's a help center page and a blog post dedicated entirely to self answers. It's absolutely okay to post self answers.

As for obscure stuff: Yes, please. The obscure stuff is always welcome here, as we're trying to get as much as possible of different kinds of literature and different cultures.

For the record, I found the question/answer you posted interesting and upvoted both of them.


Please post self-answered questions. I do it all the time and have never experienced any problems. Adding more good content to the site is always a good thing. If anyone is upset by someone adding good content to the site, then they probably aren't someone we want to have around.

  • 1
    If I can speak freely, I wondered when I read that whole saga if your Q/As had contributed to that user's annoyance in the first place even if they didn't become the focus. I don't have a problem with the principle of ask/answering. It just seems to be more common on some stacks than others and on a relatively low traffic site it can make it feel exclusionary. If I notice that a person (and a diamond makes a name stand out) ask/answers 'all the time', I'm unlikely to put effort into ones they haven't answered yet because I assume they aren't actually looking for other people's help.
    – Spagirl
    Commented Aug 11, 2017 at 15:25
  • @Spagirl hasn't thought of that. I do think self answered questions are a good way to get content to the site. Is there a way to continue to allow self answered questions while making it clear that submitting a contradictory answer is encouraged? For the record, I hold answers to any question to the same standard, whether it's my question and whether I wrote an answer to the same question. And I often upvoted answers even if I disagree with the conclusion.
    – user111
    Commented Aug 11, 2017 at 15:30
  • @Spagirl would you mind writing an aanswer elaborating on your thoughts, where, unlike comments, it can be seen and voted on?
    – user111
    Commented Aug 11, 2017 at 15:34
  • I'm not sure how much elaboration there is to be had, I'll think on it and perhaps post after supper. Thanks for being receptive to the comment.
    – Spagirl
    Commented Aug 11, 2017 at 15:36
  • @Spagirl the Stack Exchange philosophy about answers is that they aren't actually for the person who asked the question, they're for the thousands of people who have the same problem, use Google, and arrive at the question and read the answers. So when people write answers, they shouldn't be thinking about if they're helping the OP; they should think about if they're helping everyone else with the same question. Maybe that has to be better communicated.
    – user111
    Commented Aug 11, 2017 at 15:42
  • 1
    I understand that, but people are still people and have people-type reactions. Why would I answer your question if I think you have one you prepared earlier up your sleeve? But again, I'm not saying it's a problem per se, but that there is a risk of the perception being that the stack is some kind of closed circle.
    – Spagirl
    Commented Aug 11, 2017 at 18:59

As the other answers here have already pointed out, self-answers are perfectly acceptable and even encouraged on SE, and Literature SE specifically has also come out strongly in favour of self-answered questions being absolutely fine.

As for the topic being obscure or niche, that's absolutely not a problem either - in fact, it's more a good thing than anything else. Our topic challenges, for instance, are specifically designed to give more oxygen to niche topics. We don't want to be a site just for questions about Shakespeare and Orwell. Please do post more questions about relatively obscure works! All literature is equal, and no literature is more equal than others.

Having said all that, since you also mention relatively easy questions: something which is too easy and trivially answerable is likely to be poorly received, and probably even more so if it's self-answered. But as long as your question is something that at least someone will a) find interesting and b) not be immediately able to answer, this shouldn't be a problem.


Well, the self-answered Q&A you link to has a good number of upvotes on both the question and the answer, so obviously people (myself included) think that it's worth reading.

I strongly agree with posting self-answers if you find the answer to your question. In fact, I've answered my own questions too. For example, I recently asked several questions about 1984 (one about why O'Brien wasn't a thought criminal for admitting to the Party's malice and another question about why O'Brien claimed that the party didn't believe in solipsism. I thought about the questions more after I posted them and finally realized what the answer was, so I posted them as self-answers. They're not perfect answers by any stretch of the imagination, but both of them got upvotes and have positive scores, which seems to imply that someone found them useful, so obviously they were worth posting.

Some of this is also a cultural thing that's unique to each site. For example, for whatever reason on Stack Overflow self-answers tend to be judged more harshly than other questions, which I strongly disagree with because if someone's supplying useful information then we shouldn't discourage that. Self-answers and their accompanying questions should be assessed exactly how you judge other questions and answers - is the question clear, useful, and reflecting research effort? Is the answer useful, clearly written, and presenting valid information and justification? (I'm being careful about how I phrase the last one - "correct" can be a little more ambiguous in controversial cases, but an answer that I disagree with but still presents correct information and valid reasons to agree with their views can still deserve upvotes).

Point being that I think we should encourage people to share information here, especially information that's difficult or impossible to find elsewhere. The main point of Stack Exchange is to serve as a repository of knowledge and to enable people to share information with each other, so if you have useful information to share with the community, by all means please share it so that it can be documented here for the benefit of current and future readers. So, if anything, I think that Q&A about obscure works could be very useful to someone who was looking for more information on those works.

With regards to the user who quit over your other self-answer, I wouldn't worry about that. I agree with @Hamlet here - it seems like a really petty reason for the user in question to quit to me. Obviously, the fact that other people upvoted the Q&A you link to indicates that other members of the community disagree with him about the answer being low quality. (Incidentally, I upvoted both the question and answer too because I think that it's useful information; in fact, I wondered the exact same thing when I initially read Moby-Dick in school).

IMHO, part of participating in Stack Exchange is that you have to be willing for other people to disagree with you without being outraged or taking it personally, so if the user in question couldn't do that they're not necessarily a good fit for the community in the first place. Because, guess what? No one is right 100% of the time, and there will always be people who disagree with you. Besides, if you think about it, the fact that someone disagreed with you online is a very first-world problem that's hardly catastrophic in the grand scheme of things.

  • 1
    This hits the nail on the head!
    – user111
    Commented Aug 11, 2017 at 15:33

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