Aside from going to school, I write articles (to pay for school.)

In order to be successful in writing an article I have to take a peek at what people might be searching for and I've come across a couple of chemistry keywords. Some, I selfishly write about on a site where I earn ad revenue.

Would it be wrong to ask questions here for the sole purpose of getting more traffic for Chemistry.SE? As in, I don't really care about the topic or need an answer, but my question could potentially pull in traffic from Google search, such as this question (which I asked out of genuine curiosity.)

I feel like in doing so, I could be potentially sucking energy away from people who answer questions and could otherwise be helping a user that really needs help.

On the other hand, if we get more traffic to Chemistry.SE, we might end up with more question-answering type people.

For example, if someone were to ask a question about negative delta s, that is, asking about the existence of negative entropy and what it means, this question might do well in Google search. hint hint

Should I highlight such questions on meta? If so, what would be the best way to go about this?

In the meantime, I'll store them here:

What is a low-lying orbital?

Reaction between sodium hydroxide and glass?

Why are glow-in-the-dark things usually green?

Chemistry behind lip balm coloring based on skin pH

What causes the stairstep structure in bismuth crystals?

What is a "hydrogen-like" or "hydrogenic" atom?

How does an oscillating reaction work?

What does negative delta S imply?

Update: One such question that came out as a result of this post has since garnered 70k+ views. It would likely be worth exploring what other unasked but highly searched-for questions might be beneficial for the network to have.

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    $\begingroup$ Honestly, sounds like a good strategy. However, besides merely an influx in traffic I do not know if we would end up with many acdtual members coming from it. Regardless, I don't see why one should not. People can already make questions with their own answers, which I assume is because people are likely to need that information. So, I would say go for it. $\endgroup$
    – ChemBird
    Commented Jan 15, 2017 at 3:41
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    $\begingroup$ I'd say that as long as the questions are good, I don't think that asking questions is a bad thing in and of itself, so one should be free to ask questions for whatever reason they like. Whether it's morally conscionable is up to yourself to decide. However, I disagree that asking questions tires out people who answer. People who answer will answer as much or as little as they want; if there's one extra question that they don't want to answer, then they just won't answer it. $\endgroup$ Commented Jan 15, 2017 at 11:24
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    $\begingroup$ I think its a great idea, even ignoring the google issue I think the more questions we have the more participation that we'll see. As has been pointed out, if people don't want to answer them, they won't. I would be cautionary about trying too hard with this though (specifically wrt. trying to play the google game), a lot of questions that would be very 'googleable' are likely incredibly broad 'what is ....?', which at best usually go un answered and at worst will just create even more closed questions. $\endgroup$
    – NotEvans.
    Commented Jan 15, 2017 at 12:57
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    $\begingroup$ I don't really see any negative here. I thinks it's just a flat out innovative approach and great idea. Like others have said, we cannot compromise the quality of questions because it might make good internet PR. So long as that doesn't happen I say great. $\endgroup$
    – airhuff
    Commented Jan 16, 2017 at 10:49
  • $\begingroup$ Well one downside to this is: more views, more chances of getting copypasted to scraper site. I can confirm because the delta S question is copied (which can help the traffic, but they don't attribute the source site). $\endgroup$ Commented Apr 22 at 14:30

1 Answer 1


There are numerous sources pointing towards the answer. The first is a blog post from 2011 which says:

So …

  • 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.

To be crystal clear, it is not merely OK to ask and answer your own question, it is explicitly encouraged.

And there’s also the help centre, in which it is written:

Can I answer my own question?

Yes! Stack Exchange has always explicitly encouraged users to answer their own questions. If you have a question that you already know the answer to, and you would like to document that knowledge in public so that others (including yourself) can find it later, it's perfectly okay to ask and answer your own question on a Stack Exchange site.

There’s even a badge for that: self-learner.

The above is assuming that you already know the answer to a question that you want to ask here because it may get hits on Google. But of course, there’s also the question whether it’s okay to ask something because you assume it’ll get many hits on Google (even if you don’t know the answer yet).

Well: that is, naturally, covered by the general question and answer model. You have a question that fits in the site’s scope? It’s an actual question? Go ahead and ask it, that’s what we’re for!

I know it says based on actual problems you face in the help centre. But sometimes you might just have discovered a problem and be keen to know the answer. I know I have asked questions here out of pure curiosity.


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