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I guess none of us like to see questions where the OP disappears once the problem has been resolved, without leaving any clues as to what exactly worked to solve the problem.

For this reason, I tend to believe the quality bar for an OP answering their own question should be lower than the bar for other posts. We want to encourage the OP to enter their own answer, if the problem got resolved and none of the other provided answers in themselves can be accepted by the OP.

I often see such answers showing up in the low quality review queue. I tend to answer Looks OK as long as I believe that somebody in the future facing the same symptoms will be able to use the answer to figure out if they are in fact facing the same problem as the OP and that the answer will at least provide a hint as to what can be attempted.

I do hope that when somebody else find the answer to be useful despite being lower quality, they will edit the answer to become better.

Here is one case where the OP answered his own question, which I think would be useful to somebody facing the same problem. It was in the low quality review queue, but I voted Looks OK even though the OP had not put nearly the same amount of effort into writing the answer as had been put into the question.

There still has to be a bar though. The OP could answer in a way, that is too poor to be helpful. And I think this answer is one such example.

Does others agree that the quality bar for the OP answering their own question should be lower than the bar for other posts? Any suggestions on what criteria could be used to better decide if such an answer meets the bar?

It may be that the question itself is too poor quality as well. But if that is the case closing and possibly deleting the question is the proper approach, and we don't need to worry about the answer.

I am mainly concerned with cases where the question is good quality, but after resolving the question the OP didn't spend an equal amount of time writing up a good answer.

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    You provided an example of an answer that is of poor quality and does not meet your bar, but you did not provide an example of one that meets the bar. It would help drive the discussion if you were to provide one. – Andrew B Sep 2 '14 at 16:01
  • @AndrewB I'll update my question next time I come across a good example. – kasperd Sep 2 '14 at 16:39
  • @AndrewB I have added an example where much more effort was put into the question than the answer. – kasperd Sep 6 '14 at 10:29
  • That answer was pretty bad. But so was the question. They've both since been deleted by one of the bots... – Michael Hampton Sep 14 '14 at 22:02
  • @MichaelHampton Are you referring to the one, which I said was below the bar? – kasperd Sep 15 '14 at 6:05
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I disagree. The bar should be exactly as high as it is for everyone else. We're meant to be curating a corpus of high quality Q&A. If you let one class of user get away with low quality Q&A then you have to let other classes do the same (Broken Windows just like here).

The OPs self answer was basically I fixed the problem by reinstalling the software - that may be useful to some but it's not a useful sysadmin answer. Reinstalling software isn't normally high on my trouble shooting list and I doubt it's high on most sysadmin's lists either.

Personally I'd just like to see the crappy cpanel et al questions from non sysadmins closed quicker so they can't attract crappy answers from anyone.

  • What to do with the answer is a moot point, if we want to remove the question for being poor quality. Assuming the question itself is good enough for the site, how high does the quality bar for an answer written by the OP have to be? – kasperd Aug 31 '14 at 15:43
  • The same as for anyone else. – Iain Aug 31 '14 at 15:56
  • Would you rather see the OP disappear without leaving a clue, once the problem has been solved? – kasperd Aug 31 '14 at 17:22
  • I don't see what you're getting at, that happens all the time whether the OP answered the question or not. A crappy answer should be dealt with in the same manner whoever provides it. – Iain Aug 31 '14 at 17:25
  • I don't understand your reasoning. If I was the one facing a similar problem in the future and found a question written by somebody having faced it earlier, I would consider it much more helpful if the OP had posted a vague answer of how the problem was resolved than a question without any answer whatsoever. – kasperd Aug 31 '14 at 17:30
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    I haven't commented on the content, I commented on the on the concept of giving OPs who provide crappy answers more latitude which I disagree with. A crappy answer is a crappy answer whoever provided it and should be dealt with evenhandedly. – Iain Aug 31 '14 at 17:37
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The approach I generally use is as follows:

  • Will this question be useful to someone who I perceive as having the minimum amount of training for their job? (mistakes by those people pass this test)
  • Is the answer too specific to the environment in which it occurred?

These are signs that the entire Q&A needs to be junked. If these conditions are cleared, you're generally left with an answer that is useful to someone regardless of how poorly the answer is written. Either the answer is the correct answer and will be expanded upon by someone else who recognizes this, or someone will contribute a better one in spite of the OP flagging their own answer as accepted.

I cannot offhandedly think of examples where this is not the case, though I'm sure there are some; it'd help if you provide a few.

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Honestly, um. Sometimes self-answers can be mock-worthy. I once parodied one to a friend as,

"Q: How do I put on my underwear?"

"A: Slit the crotch open with a razor blade and pull them over your head, then bend over and stitch the crotch back together."

(No link, because it's mean. But the user in question was last seen over a year ago, so if you're reading this it's probably not you.)

I do get your point, and do want the OP to tell us what worked. But I also want the answer to be useful to someone else reading the site. I don't know. I guess I'm still optimistic enough to believe that if someone asks a good question, they're also capable of a good self-answer.

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The proper solution in this kind of case - crappy question with an even crappier answer is to delete the whole thread. We know it's not going to get better, as the OP eliminated that opportunity when he reinstalled, and the thread isn't useful enough to stand on its own.

So, throw a delete vote on the whole mess (or attract the attention of those who can), and problem solved. Two more delete votes to go, by the way.

  • I wasn't asking what to do about poor questions. I was asking what to do about poor answers, in particular if the question happen to be a good question. – kasperd Sep 2 '14 at 12:13

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