All SE sites like questioners to have done a little homework before asking a question. I take it that this site is no different. So questioners should have looked for a piece of software to meet their needs. I see several questions like "Is there something like x only with feature Y?", which at least gives a starting point but other questions seem lacking.

I see three options:

1) Q: What can I put on my kid's Nexus 7 to stop them finding porn?

Shows no homework.

2} Q: What can I put on my kid's Nexus 7 to stop them finding porn?

  • I've tried app x from the Google Play store but it doesn't do everything

Better, shows some effort. The question may get answers App A, App B, etc. Will someone answer "App X fits pretty well".

3} Q: What can I put on my kid's Nexus 7 to stop them finding porn? A: App X

Immediately answering your own question. Intended to get upvotes by people who think App X is a good fit and other answers from people offering other suggestions. Smacks of sock puppeting.

Is there a preferred way of doing this? A deprecated way? Does it matter?

  • 4
    I don't think it matters.. The site won't work right if we require people to do all the searching before they ask a question. I think a bit of searching before you ask is good, but not necessary. Answering your own question is always ok.
    – Seth
    Commented Feb 8, 2014 at 22:17
  • 1
    I agree with @Seth. Though showing no effort at all smells like using us as "personalized search engine". To pick up the original example, I'd expect at least something like "I've searched Google Play, but..." (all findings asked too many permissions / no app covered all aspects / ..., maybe mentioning examples). See the hover-text on the upvote button: "This question shows research effort".
    – Izzy Mod
    Commented Feb 8, 2014 at 22:24
  • 1
    Answering your own question is Great! We like that on Stack Exchange. Remember SE is somewhere between a Forum and Wiki. It is a rositiory of information. I suggest editing your question to remove Option 3. and if you think that Self Answering is different Here, than on other SE sites, create a seperate meta question Commented Feb 9, 2014 at 6:12

2 Answers 2


Requiring to “show homework” is tricky: it doesn't always lead to a better question. A common problem with the insistence to “show what you tried” on some Stack Exchange sites is that it leads to questions where the asker had no idea how to start and so went on a completely wrong path, so

  1. answerers waste their time explaining what went wrong;
  2. the question doesn't help anyone else, because the next person with the same problem went on a completely different wrong path.

Another problem is that it may lead the answers. For example, when I asked Offline map browser on Android with offline search, I head already used the application that was suggested by the first answer, but I purposefully refrained from mentioning it because I wasn't fully satisfied with it, and I wanted to see what other people would suggest.

If the question goes “How do I do X? I've used app A, is that good?”, and app A is indeed a good one, what's an answer to say? “Yes, use app A”?

This is not to say that askers should not do some research. In particular, if there are any obvious-but-wrong answers, mention them.

For example, if there's software bundled with your operating system that accomplishes the task, do try it, and say why it wasn't fully satisfactory.

More generally, make sure to point out what disqualifies answers that might seem obvious. For example “X under Linux would be perfect, but I'm looking for something on Windows”. Or “I tried Y, but the interface is too complex and I need an app I can recommend to non-technical people.”

You should definitely run a search before asking. If you find a single application that seems to match, use it. If you see a lot of different applications, this is a sign that your requirements are too broad; you need to make some preselection before asking here, we can't discuss all the apps in the world. The sweet spots of this site are:

  • When you find nothing, to help you find something. (Do consider that if you find nothing, it could be that there is nothing — see if you can relax your requirements.)
  • When there are several matches, but fully trying them out would be cumbersome, so you look for other people's experiences.

On Stack Overflow the show a minimal understand of the problem close reason was removed just because of that. A good question does not mean I have to show everything I tried. See also this meta post.

Why would that be important. A user seeks a software for specific requirements and future visitors don't need to be distracted that obviously does not meet the requirements of the asker. Don't put noise in the questions nobody needs.

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