As an active member of one of the more unusual stacks, I am well aware that each stack has its own community and to an extent its own norms. However, when it comes to the network-wide guidance on answering one's own question:

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.

it seems to be community consensus here that this is perfectly acceptable, and I agree completely with the conclusion:

... if someone with the same problem visits the question before it gets another answer, I think he will be glad to find an imperfect solution, instead of no solution at all.

I am therefore puzzled as to why not one but two high-rep users thought that my answer to my own question about Cyrillic on Ubuntu Precise should be moved to be part of the question. I think most of us are familiar with the problem referred to in XKCD 979:

I Google an error and there's one result. A thread by someone with the same problem and no answer http://imgs.xkcd.com/comics/wisdom_of_the_ancients.png

Someone who finds the page by a Google search will see "0 answers" and isn't likely to read a long question to see whether it has any clues. I posted the self-answered question after spending 8 hours to get my document to compile in the hope that it would save someone else 7 of those hours, but moving the answer to the question seems to frustrate that hope.

Why should the answer not stand as an answer, at least until someone has a better one?

  • I moved the answer you'd made on that one: to me it read more like a comment which as the it was made by you (the OP) belonged as an edit to the question.
    – Joseph Wright Mod
    Oct 11, 2014 at 15:35
  • Perhaps pop into chat to discuss this?
    – Joseph Wright Mod
    Oct 11, 2014 at 15:37
  • I also have the feeling that it reads like a progress though still not an answer. But of course if it works it works. As @JosephWright mentioned this is kind of those borderline cases and you can stop by in the chat and tell us what you wish to have. Someone else might chime in and write a definitive answer too by the way in the mean time.
    – percusse
    Oct 11, 2014 at 18:17
  • by the way, nice avatar!
    – Old Nick
    Oct 11, 2014 at 19:06

1 Answer 1


In my opinion, it is rather simple: if it is an acceptable work-around (for the asker, that is you), it can be an answer. If it is a work-around but you are asking it to get a better solution, it belongs to the question (not as a partial answer, but as a "this is what I've got, and this is why I don't like it").

The solution you propose indeed sounds more like a progress than an actual answer, but as said in the comments, if it works, there is no reason why it shouldn't be considered an answer. Maybe you should just make it clearer that it is a definitive answer rather than ongoing investigation, for example by adding some introduction like "Short version: run (...), or, if you don't have administrative privileges, (...)".

Also note that unanswered questions are a problem that all Q/A sites face and try to mitigate. As you can see, on tex.sx we aren't doing too bad, with only 6.3% of all questions left unanswered (4611 out of 72982). Part of the effort to reduce that number on the stackexchange network goes through some regular "Solve the unanswered" sessions, during which people methodically go through the list of unanswered questions and try to provide an answer. Many of these unanswered questions will already contain a solution in the comments or in the question itself, in which case either the author of the solution will be pinged to make it an answer, or someone will move the solution into a community wiki answer. The point is your question would not have been left without an answer for more than a few months, and in particular not 10 years!

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