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I'm new to unix.sx. In some other StackExchange community I participated in, it's a usual thing to encourage user to post an answer to their own question once they've found it.

An example at unix.sx: OP mentions the problem is solved, and it's clear to them what happened but it all happens in comments, and the question is marked unanswered.

It seems very appropriate for me to ask the OP to post a full answer themselves, and accept it. I wonder if it may be not appropriate for some reason. There could be some: I'm mostly familiar with StackExchange communities where answers are unlikely to change in future, and are likely to be as useful in the (at least near) future as they are now (examples: mathematics; heavily standardised software). This may often not be the case with Unix & Linux, so one might argue that it's better to not waste each other's time describing solution to a problem that was fixed with a new release, or that varies wildly with implementation.

Note, however, that it's not clear from the comment in example whether it was a bug that's fixed by now, or it was both that and OP's own mistake.

Given all that,

  1. is it appropriate at unix.sx to ask OPs to post answers once they found them by themselves, and to mark them as accepted?

  2. in case the problem is now history due to bug fix, is it better to post an answer, or to delete the question altogether? or maybe unix.sx is quite OK with unanswered questions and doesn't consider them a burden at all?

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Q1) is it appropriate at unix.sx to ask OPs to post answers once they found them by themselves, and to mark them as accepted?

Sure we do this all the time. Many of us often will also fill in gaps that we stumble across on the internet or on this site and will post a question, merely to provide our own answer(s) a home here and on the internet at large.

Q2) in case the problem is now history due to bug fix, is it better to post an answer, or to delete the question whatsoever? or maybe unix.sx is quite OK with unanswered questions and doesn't consider them a burden at all?

If the problem is now history, then I'd probably be inclined to post as an answer, a link to the issue tracker that includes the details that this bug has now been fixed. Many users are unaware that bugs get fixed, and many users are either forced to run on older distros/software or haven't yet upgraded. In these cases a question with an answer directing them to the issue tracker will in fact be another marker on the internet that that will hopefully direct them to the resolution.

In some cases it is more desireable to delete the question all together. I'd probably delete it if it's a extremely old issue. It's difficult to scope what this time should be though. Maybe say 10+ years? When in doubt I'd probably bring this issue up in our chatroom for guidance as you come across such instances.

We try hard to provide an answer to every question, but there are questions that do not have an answer...yet, and may never get one. We periodically will try to coordinate efforts to do a roundup of unanswered questions and attempt to survey them, but more times than not, nothing has changed, and we continue to leave these questions on the site without an answer.

Usually 3-4 times a year, I'll personally do this to see if there are some more recent questions that I can attempt to answer. I know a few other higher rep'd users do this from time to time as well.

Bounties are suppose to be used to entice users to attempt to answer these types of questions, but I'm not a big fan of them. I find that more times than not, putting bounties on questions, has really no effect, at least on this site. We have a smaller group of users, but they're pretty active on the site already, so if a question is going unanswered, it's likely that everyone has already seen it and jus don't know the answer.

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It's always appropriate.

If a user expects to get free answers and give none when they figure it out, well I'll let you finish the sentence. More specifically:

1) Absolutely.

2) I've fixed quite a few new things by seeing how older related things were fixed. I think there's value in deleting barely anything.

5

An answer is an answer. It doesn't matter the source. The purpose of stack exchange is the collation of good questions and answers to them. The individual poster getting their question answered is a beneficial side effect.

If you have a noticeable problem to solve, typically you will continue with it in parallel anyway. Things you discover you should share, unless someone has beaten you to it.

It is entirely ok to post and accept your own answer if it was what helped the most.

And as such, it is impolite to ask a community for help without at least contributing your answer.

2

It's always appropriate to answer your own question if you have the answer. If the asker signals that they have solved their problem, it's appropriate to encourage them to post an answer.

The answer must explain how the problem was solved. Don't answer “The problem is fixed” just to make a question answered. Explain what was needed to fix it, e.g. modifying a configuration setting, upgrading, etc. If you found a bug report with a solution, do link to the bug report. In fact, answer with a link to the bug report and a summary of the bug description even if the bug hasn't been fixed, that'll be helpful to future visitors.

The only case where it wouldn't be appropriate to post an answer is if the solution wouldn't teach anyone anything. There are two common cases for that:

  • The source of the bug was mysterious — “I reinstalled and the bug went away”.
  • The bug was due to a simple mistake, and there is nothing teachable in how the mistake was found and repaired — “I made a typo in the file name”.

In such cases, vote to close the question as “off-topic” — “Questions describing a problem that can't be reproduced and seemingly went away on its own (or went away when a typo was fixed) are off-topic as they are unlikely to help future readers.” In every other case, please do answer the question if you can.

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