As a student, I find this site to be really useful when I need help with an assignment or a concept I can't understand completely. I can often find what I need in some of the existing questions, but in cases where I can't find a good answer, the existing answers deal with much simpler examples than the one I'm working with or don't explain the matter in enough detail, I need to post a new question myself.
When I do, and I'm asking about an assignment containing tasks which can be solved, I often try to solve them myself and arrive to a result, but I'm not sure about the methods I used to get it. In this case, I have the choice between just posting a question asking someone to solve the task or posting a check my work kind of question. These have several benefits:
- Users answering the question can get a sense of my level of knowledge
- I've included everything I can in the question itself, leaving no space for ambiguity
- I get to practice my $\LaTeX$ by writing down all the steps of my progress, even if I do end up copy-pasting most of it
I can also see a couple of downsides:
- They are boring: checking someone else's work is most definitely less stimulating than solving the task yourself, and if you check the work by solving the task yourself, you might solve it in a completely different way, limiting its usefulness in checking the validity of the OP's progress
- They result in awkward answers if the work was done correctly
Still, since they aren't actively discouraged, as I could see from several similar questions I could find here, I've decided that I'm going to post check my work kind of questions when I can. That leaves me with another question, which I feel none of the other similar questions answer very well: should I post my attempt at a solution as an answer or include it in the question?
My thoughts on posting the two parts separately, with some of my doubts and questions in the parentheses:
- The question itself remains clear, making it simpler to understand for both users trying to answer it and users looking for instructions on how to solve a similar problem (Can be solved in either case with some nice formatting?)
- The question and the attempt at a solution can be upvoted/downvoted independently of each other (Should they be?)
- If the attempt contains errors, it might get treated more harshly than it would if it was part of the question(Only if other users ignore the fact it was posted by the same user as the question itself)
- The question doesn't appear under the unanswered category, providing it with less exposure, making it less likely someone will actually check the work (Do self-answered questions get any kind of special treatment regarding their ranking on question lists?)
What are your thoughts on the points above, and do you think I should post the question and the attempted solution separately or together?