I've recently been noticing a lot of questions which follow a particular formula; they ask a question, then propose an answer, and then ask for confirmation of that answer. It's probably always been like this, but it hadn't clicked in my head until now, so I thought it was worth bringing up for discussion on meta. Just grabbing a few examples from the current frontpage:

What do people think about questions which are asking for confirmation of (or improvement upon) the author's own answer to the question, which is contained within the question body itself? Is it something deserving of any special action/treatment?

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And I've just found this related discussion on meta.stackOverflow: meta.stackexchange.com/questions/108969/… –  Trevor Powell Feb 14 '13 at 6:39
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You seem to be having a very engaging dialogue with yourself about this topic, why involve the rest of us? ;) –  Josh Petrie Feb 14 '13 at 6:47
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Well, I'm in two minds about it (hence the two answers I wrote). Just wanted to get thoughts from others to make sure that I wasn't insane for even thinking it might be an issue. :) –  Trevor Powell Feb 14 '13 at 21:39
    
Sounds like editing out the OPs answer is also useful for solving the "asking for a discussion" problem brought up in your other answer. –  Byte56 Feb 16 '13 at 16:27
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3 Answers 3

up vote 9 down vote accepted

I think such questions are (generally speaking) excellent, and should in no way be discouraged. In particular, they're vastly preferable to the all too common questions where the askers, instead, omit all mention of their actual goal X and just write "I'm trying to do Y but it's not working the way I want! Can anyone help me?"

Note that, in most of the questions you've cited, the asker is not actually proposing a real answer to their problem in the question; rather, they're either describing a failed answer that is not solving their problem, or they only have a vague and incomplete sketch of an answer and are asking whether and how it could be turned into a real solution.

Basically, by including their own (unsatisfactory) attempt at an answer in their question, these askers are telling us what they've tried so far, something our FAQ explicitly encourages (emphasis mine):

Do your homework

Have you thoroughly searched for an answer before asking your question? Sharing your research helps everyone. Tell us what you found and why it didn’t meet your needs. This demonstrates that you’ve taken the time to try to help yourself, it saves us from reiterating obvious answers, and most of all it helps you get a more specific and relevant answer!

Of course, I'm sure there exist some questions that do, in fact, contain or presuppose their own answer and would benefit from the measures you suggest (moving the answer out of the question, or closing as "not constructive" or "not a real question"). I'm just saying that I don't think any of the examples you've listed above really are such questions.

I should also note that the meta.SO post you linked to in the comments (or at least the accepted answer to it) is mostly about something else, namely about situations where the asker, after having asked a more or less valid question, later finds an answer but posts it as an edit to their question rather than as an answer to it. That's really more of an issue of new users being confused by the Stack Exchange user interface than a case of actual inappropriate questions.

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I was going to post exactly this. Someone who can document what they've tried is obviously serious about their question, so we should be happy to have such questions. If the content needs editing to improve its relevance to the typical user and to de-emphasise the suggested approach if it is sub-optimal, so be it. –  Kylotan Feb 17 '13 at 19:24
    
+1 for a perspective I hadn't even considered. Re-reading the questions I linked originally, the first four appear to be proposing theoretical answers which the poster hadn't actually tried, while the last one is stating something which the poster actually attempted, but didn't work out. I agree that the last one is definitely okay, but I'm still feeling conflicted over the "here's my answer, what do you think of it?" implications in the first four. –  Trevor Powell Feb 19 '13 at 0:18
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In this sort of situation, we should edit the user's proposed answer out of the question body, and post a comment encouraging them to repost their proposed answer as a proper answer to the question.

This would allow us to keep the questions while maintaining a true Q&A format, rather than a QA&Yes|No format.

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I came very, very close to posting this answer at the bottom of the question, with a "Would that work?" postscript. :) –  Trevor Powell Feb 14 '13 at 4:35
    
I agree with this. –  Josh Petrie Feb 14 '13 at 6:48
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That said, there's a fine line between a question that also proposes a legitimate answer and one that explains what the user has tried or researched already; for example, the first question in your list (about asynchronous server stuff) doesn't feel like it clearly falls into the category where his proposed hashing solution should be removed because I think it provides some background on the specific problem he wants solved. –  Josh Petrie Feb 14 '13 at 6:53
    
There's a post on meta.SO which advocates not even asking the user to repost the answer after editing it out of the question, but instead doing it yourself immediately and posting the answer as Community Wiki. Which probably protects against new users who don't know how to get to the edit history, and drive-by askers who just never turn up again. –  Trevor Powell Feb 14 '13 at 6:54
    
By contrast, the last question about 2D curves basically says, of the proposed answer "here is my solution can you make it better?" –  Josh Petrie Feb 14 '13 at 6:54
    
I don't think we can explicitly post single answers as wikis any more, that's a mod thing, no? I know you can trick it by getting enough people to edit it, but that seems drastic. –  Josh Petrie Feb 14 '13 at 6:56
    
@JoshPetrie: The "community wiki" checkbox seems to be still there below the answer box. I assume it works as it used to. –  Ilmari Karonen Feb 18 '13 at 5:30
    
Oh, I didn't realize that. –  Josh Petrie Feb 18 '13 at 16:27
    
The question would be: is it still there below the answer box if you don't have 4000+ rep? –  MrCranky Apr 23 at 10:18
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People who ask a question, answer it themselves within the question body, and then ask for confirmation of their answer aren't actually asking a question to which they want an answer -- they're instead asking for a discussion about their answer. And as a request for discussion, such questions should be closed as off-topic for Stack Exchange.

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I think this a valid point (that they're not asking a question that's suitable for the site), but I also think the question they proposed and answered is probably interesting and valid to the site so I'd prefer to edit out the aspects of the post that make it a discussion or validation of the proposed answer and instead leave what is (hopefully) otherwise a good question for the site. –  Josh Petrie Feb 14 '13 at 6:49
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