I have a question about my Mathematics Stack Exchange post: Taxi distance count to all lattice points at specified distance from the lattice origin and of a specified dimensionality?

I was challenged because I answered my own question. Am I incorrect in understanding that self-answering is acceptable and perhaps even encouraged? It is quite possible that I quite misunderstood the situation. Or, that there is some other unstated issue with my question or answer.

Can I answer my own question?

It’s OK to Ask and Answer Your Own Questions

  • 4
    $\begingroup$ First of all, it's a good thing that you are poking around the site meta to familiarize yourself with our guidelines! Looking at the links, I think that it is allowed, but I have never heard anyone explicitly encouraging this kind of format before(maybe I missed alot). $\endgroup$
    – bobeyt6
    Commented Jun 23, 2023 at 16:33
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    $\begingroup$ I have self-answered before, though usually after getting a nudge from the comments that was not fleshed out into a proper answer (or after fleshing out a rather sparse answer in more fitting detail), or to serve as a "generalized duplicate" of sorts to link to. To my understanding it is fine to self-answer in general, though generally the question has to be of some interest, as opposed to a mere random homework problem (not that I'm suggesting this is such). Many times I've also seen people include lines of thought like "I'd also like to hear about other solutions to this problem". $\endgroup$ Commented Jun 23, 2023 at 19:23
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    $\begingroup$ I was challenged because I answered my own question. Oh come on. "If you have several solutions, what is it that you want from us?" sounds well-intentioned to me and merely seeking the clarification that you eventually provided underneath it after that slightly defensive opening. $\endgroup$
    – ryang
    Commented Jun 23, 2023 at 19:48
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    $\begingroup$ There was no need to mention your existing solutions at all, let alone first. Nobody cares that your assignment would be six decades late, just whether you've honestly attempted to solve it and can show that. Nor is it necessary to point out the particular topic of mathematics, when we have tags and the question could just be given. $\endgroup$
    – Nij
    Commented Jun 24, 2023 at 7:51
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    $\begingroup$ A simple "Hi, this is an interesting homework problem I solved in the past that I wish to document here (self-answered question)" is sufficient. The preamble you put in the question come across as angry and a tad rude to be fair to the commenters. $\endgroup$
    – acat3
    Commented Jun 26, 2023 at 8:15
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    $\begingroup$ It's okay to ask and answer your own questions. But not everyone will agree on what makes an appropriate Q&A pair; see past discussions on this subject on this, like "Is self answering own questions a frowned upon practice in math-stack exchange?", to get an idea about the community standards on this practice. Regarding the comments you received, my advice is to not engage with comments/commenters you find rude. Flag comments that need moderator attention, and don't feel compelled to respond. Escalating tensions profit no one, especially you. $\endgroup$ Commented Jun 26, 2023 at 13:01
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    $\begingroup$ Exemplary work MSE community, made another user leave the site forever! $\endgroup$
    – Babu
    Commented Jun 29, 2023 at 5:53
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    $\begingroup$ I don’t think that it is solely the fault of the MSE community. I believe that some of our comments could have been toned down a bit, but the OP's ignorance/refusal of good practice and overreaction to comments/edits also contributed to the general feelings of hostility and defensiveness. $\endgroup$
    – bobeyt6
    Commented Jun 29, 2023 at 15:59
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    $\begingroup$ It was even deleted $\endgroup$ Commented Jun 29, 2023 at 22:55
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    $\begingroup$ I don't really agree with the deletion since the question itself was fine. Maybe it got to heated in the comments section? $\endgroup$
    – bobeyt6
    Commented Jun 29, 2023 at 23:10

1 Answer 1



Let's break down the content of the post in question and see if we can notice anything or improve something.

I have been attacked before for not mentioning the following points. They are here in self defense.

While this can be frustrating and is an experience that most user can relate to, Stack Exchange community is huge and most likely your post will be read by people who have never interacted with you, let alone attack you in the past. As an illustration, imagine walking into a shopping mall and suddenly someone says:

"Hey, I was told not to smoke indoor before, so I left my cigars in my car."

As a stranger who didn't know you nor what happened to you in the past, my first reaction is "Cool, but why are you telling me this. Is this really necessary?"

I have several solutions to the questions, which I will provide.

Awesome! I don't see anything wrong with this.

Yes, this is a homework question.

A little aggressive because it implies that you know someone is going to call you out for posting homework question (which may happen), and that's why you put a defensive answer before someone has the chance to do so. But still completely fine.

It was asked and answered by me about $59$ years ago.

You have mentioned you have the answers, it's probably unnecessary to point out when or who answered it.

It is much too late to hand in the assignment again.

This is the point where I went "Ugh OK OK we got it, don't need to emphasize this over and over". And remember, many users wouldn't have asked if it's a homework question in the first place. If we use the smoking analogy again, it sounds like this:

"Hey, I was told not to smoke indoor before, so I left my cigars in my car. Oh, I also don't have my lighter with me so even if I wanted to, I couldn't smoke now."

For that reason, I do not feel that I am asking the readers for help doing my homework for me

Again, this is completely unnecessary. You should have stopped long time ago. At this point you are being too immersed in an imaginary debate with an imaginary community member.

This is a Combinatorics problem.

Great! We have a tag which will allow you to signify this to other users and let your problem be searched under the combinatorics tag.

I believe that such questions are permitted here.

Again with the imaginary interaction and defense.

link to the meta post about self - answering your question

Again with the imaginary interaction and defense.

Please, do not edit my questions. Comment your opinions in the comments.

This comes across as commanding and really aggressive, particularly after reading through the previous parts of the post.

Possible Improvement

You can simply state the following:

"Hi, this is an interesting problem I have solved and I wish to document it here as self-answered question"

I am quite sure most users will accept this much easier than your post opening parts. In addition, it is much shorter. In your post, the preamble takes almost as much space as the actual content.

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    $\begingroup$ Logical answer, but forgets the emotional content of the post, and also that we are dealing with a human. $\endgroup$
    – Babu
    Commented Jun 26, 2023 at 17:42
  • $\begingroup$ @user:751970 Thank you. May I link to this post to explain my position in a shorter form? $\endgroup$
    – user1193068
    Commented Jun 26, 2023 at 18:57
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    $\begingroup$ @NothingIsPermanent If you're asking about linking to this post from your original question, then that would probably just make things worse, even though it is technically allowed (in general you don't need anyone's permission to link to their post). The point of the answer, if I've understood it correctly, is roughly that your original question has too much extra commentary which is irrelevant to the actual mathematical problem you were asking about, and that it comes across as being overly defensive. A link to this meta discussion would just be even more of the same on both counts. $\endgroup$
    – David Z
    Commented Jun 27, 2023 at 0:09