I'm referring to this question that was quickly answered by the OP with a copy-n-paste excerpt from a wiki that directly answers the question.

Should such questions be encouraged? Please ignore for a second that this particular case is a list question.

  • 1
    Are you asking about Q&A from the same poster, or the answer being a dump from Wookiepedia? They are completely distinct issues. Mar 20, 2012 at 18:28

5 Answers 5


I think the answer should be yes, assuming both the question and answer are of sufficient value/goodness to stand alone on SFF (and in this case I think that they are). Someone's idea of finding something easily through Google might be quite different from others, as it really depends on the keywords they thought to check and the phrasing they used. I find a good amount of the information I answer LotR questions with on the web using Google, but I think that's because I know where to look and how to phrase my queries in that specific area.

Asking your own questions and self-answering isn't really ideal if done deliberately (although it does benefit the site by increasing our knowledge repository if, as mentioned before, both are up to SFF standard) but continuing to search for the answer even after asking the question and then posting the answer if found is a good behaviour that should be encouraged.


First, there's the issue of copyright. While we cannot be guardians against copyright violations (as I understand it, if we make a habit of removing content for being in violation of a license, then we may be held responsible if we then fail to do so in one instance), we (the community and moderators) do have some latitude in deleting dubious content, so content that may be violating a license will be held to particularly high standards. Here, the license is a Creative Commons license that allows copying (the same as on Stack Exchange, as a matter of fact), so verbatim (or not) quoting with attribution is legal.

Second, there's the issue of plagiarism. Content copied without attribution will be deleted on sight. Here, attribution was given, so everything is fine.

Then we get to the next issue: is the answer valuable? I think so; it doesn't answer the question completely, but it's a very good start. Who posted the answer is immaterial: we judge posts by their content, not by their author.

Finally, the crux of the matter: the question. The reproach I've seen against the question is that it's covered by a general reference. I disagree: no one has come up with such a general reference. The answer from the Star Wars Wikia only covers one half of the question, and it is not of impeachable accuracy and completeness (see also What sites should be considered general references?, What are standard internet reference sites for SF?).

As for the fact that the asker answered his own question, this is not a problem. In fact, it's OK to ask and answer your own question; it says so right in the FAQ of all Stack Exchange sites. As it happens, the asker found an answer after posting his question; it is good that he contributes back, and a self-answer is encouraged in such a case.

If you don't think the asker did enough research before posting the question, downvote it. I see no reason to close the question.

Question reopened, and case closed. (If only!)


I do believe in extending the benefit of the doubt in general, particularly with new users.


I will say that I don't support either encouraging the kind of question you've linked to or Wiki dumps in general. A person answering his/her own question, when it could easily be construed that he/she already knew the complete answer to the question prior to asking it, is poor form, IMO. As well, I certainly can't support the possible nefarious Photoshopping of R2D2, were that to ever happen.

ETA: I think Tango makes some really excellent points.

  • Answering one's own question is encouraged in the faq.
    – user56
    Mar 20, 2012 at 19:28
  • @Gilles - I know what the FAQ says. It doesn't mean it sits well with everyone in practice or in all cases. Just a difference in opinion. :) Mar 21, 2012 at 15:06

The problem with something like that is that a question that can be answered that easily should be considered for closing as general reference. While some wikis can be tough to parse, if the answer to a question can be found easily with a quick Google, then it's a general reference.

In other words, first, I think the fault here lies more with the question than the answer.

Now as to the answer, in this case, it's a one sided answer, so it's not complete (no indication of references to ST in SW) but I can't blame the poster of the answer for just taking the easiest route to post an answer. But that doesn't make it the right thing to do. When you fall back on the intent of SE being to make the Internet better, a straight wiki dump without any explanation or commentary is certainly not, in my view, worth an upvote.

But I don't see how we can stop answers like that or declare them wrong -- unless we create a rule regarding the situation. I still think if it's that easy to find, the fault is more with the question than the answer.

So far I've addressed the situation in general, but I think there's another point to be made here, with the question in doubt. The asker posted the question and less than half an hour later posted his own answer. (And people call me a rep whore!) I think that proves the point: Once he started searching, he found it without much trouble. The problem was more in the question than the answer and I will be voting to close, in this case, on general reference because I feel one should not be answering a question one can so easily find the answer to on one's own.

And one last note: There are times when the answer is in a wiki, but that doesn't mean it's easy to find. For example, if you have a question about Anakin Skywalker, you can spend an hour or more reading through the Wookiepedia article on Anakin and trying to find an answer. In such a case, having a simple and quick answer here is certainly an improvement.

  • 3
    What if he found the answer BEFORE posting the question? It may be poor sportmanship, but (1) NOT against the rules and (2) if the Q/A are of sufficient quality, beneficial to the site. Sorry, I'm upvoting and voting to reopen. Mar 20, 2012 at 18:27

I think basing the standard for whether a question is general reference solely on how fast the answer is found is pretty subjective, and not in the spirit of Stack Exchange. The answer came from a site that is NOT on the general reference list. There is NO basis for closing on the grounds of general reference.

Simply because a question has an easy answer does not disqualify it from a SE site.

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