Encyclopedia Stack Exchange

by Joel Spolsky

on May 22, 2012

Remember this old picture?

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What's that "Blog" circle supposed to be about, you ask? WHERE'S THE BLOGGING?

Since Stack Overflow launched, we've been trying to explain that it's not just a Q&A platform: it's also a place where you can publish things that you've learned: recipes, FAQs, HOWTOs, walkthroughs, and even bits of product documentation, as long you format it as a question and answer.

As Jeff wrote:

  • if you have a question that you already know the answer to

  • if you’d like to document it in public so others (including yourself) can find it later

  • it is OK to ask, and answer, your own question on a relevant Stack Exchange site.

For a long time we've been pleading for people to write more canonical answers so the same questions don't keep coming up again and again, and we even have the Self-Learner badge which you can only earn by answering your own question. Still, I'm not sure if the message is getting through to everyone, as evidenced by the misguided comments that sprout up whenever someone answers their own question.

How can we make this any clearer? Maybe a big bold checkbox will help.Answer Your Own Question Checkbox

Now when you ask a question, you'll see that checkbox right there, reminding you of the option to answer your question on the spot. Furthermore, the answer will be published at the same time as the question, avoiding that awkward moment where well-meaning people rush in to answer something you've already got an answer for.

It's just a tiny checkbox that doesn't change the mechanics of Stack Exchange in any way, but we have a bold goal for this new feature: we're trying to move even more of the world's long-tail, detailed knowledge into Stack Exchange. It works for all 83 sites (and their metas), you get to keep the reputation you earn, and you'll get a lot more eyeballs than you can get on your blog (no offense… even my blog doesn't get 24,300,000 monthly uniques).