I've recently been editing out things such as "hope this helps" and "good luck" from posts and was wondering if that crosses the imaginary line that seems to not exist in the scattered mess of questions on things that should be removed from posts.

So, let's build a neat community wiki with a list of everything (with brownie point for adding why). Please feel free to improve explanations or add other things that have been discussed.

What things should I keep out of my posts and titles?

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You're making this far too complicated. If you'd like me to post that as an answer, please let me know. :-) –  Cody Gray May 2 '12 at 4:44
@TheEstablishment: I was wondering how long it would take for someone to post that comment. :P –  animuson May 2 '12 at 4:45
Remember: When editing posts, be sure to fix everything that's wrong with the post. It just wastes time if you remove a "thanks" but fail to remove salutations or don't fix formatting / spelling / copy errors. Someone else is going to have to come back and fix those - might as well fix them all in one go. –  Rob Hruska May 7 '12 at 13:10
I agree that, while we're editing, we should edit all things from this list. However, should we edit a post just to fix one of these issues? Editing a post to remove "Thanks" moves it to the front-page again. Maybe we need a (wikipedia-style) "minor modificiation" checkbox so that the edit does not move the item to the front page. –  Konerak May 8 '12 at 9:43
Dog Hair. Flies. –  Rosinante Jan 4 '13 at 3:46
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2 Answers

There are plenty of things out there that users add to posts that make them harder to read by adding useless information and text that doesn't add anything at all to the post. Some other things should be removed for alternate reasons as well, but keeping the post straight-forward and on-topic is the key goal.

Things that don't belong in posts:

  • Salutations, Signatures, and Taglines

    There are plenty of different ways people add in extra little lines that more or less act as salutations and signatures. From basic things like saying "hello", "thanks in advance", and "you're welcome" to more subtle things like "hope this helps", "I found a solution", and "this may be late but..." in answers, these small phrases only add extra text that a user reads that may not be related to them.

    As well, any kind of personal contact information should never be included in the body of a post.

  • Excess White-Space (Both Vertical and Horizontal)

    Extra white space that is not needed extends the page and creates unnecessary scrollbars that make viewing and analyzing code much more difficult and inconvenient. A common example showing two versions of this is seen below:

    $var1 = 1;
    $var2 = 2;
                            $var3 = 3; // Now this line will cause a horizontal scrollbar with even fewer characters...

    In this example, the extra line in between each line of code is useless. It only serves to add extra lines, while normally line breaks should separate blocks of code within a program that relate to each other. As well, the indentation of the last line makes no sense and creates a horizontal scrollbar. Re-indenting to match the rest of the code is appropriate. Be cautious when editing out white-space from posts, though, to make sure that the white-space you're removing is not relevant to the code. If unsure, ask the OP or leave it for someone else to deal with.

  • Comments, Comments, Comments

    Keep comments in the comments. Don't reply to other users' comments by editing your response into your post. Only edit in relevant information that improves your question or answer. Editing in a notice asking why people are downvoting your question is never an appropriate thing to do.

  • Offers of Financial Reward

    This is not the place for hiring someone to do work for you, even for the simplest of tasks. You are not allowed to offer any sort of financial compensation for answering any questions here. If you need someone to build an entire website or do some other form of contract work for you, try posting an ad on Careers. Usually the question is still salvageable by just removing the references of the reward, so pay close attention to not remove vital parts.

  • Degradation of Self or Others

    Most often this occurs with users calling themselves "noobs". Everyone has to start somewhere, we were all "noobs" at one time, and it doesn't belong in the question. Of course, calling someone else a noob (or equivalent) is not appropriate either. Similarly, using things like "I'm an idiot" aren't great.

    Continuing of degradation, the FAQ clearly states you should be nice and treats others with respect. The use of words such as f*** and b**** (yes, I censored them) are not appropriate and definitely would not be considered "being nice" by anyone. Even calling someone "stupid" can be considered offensive and can result in disciplinary action.

  • My Apologies

    Apologizing for asking a question is a sure-fire way for people to not take it as seriously. If there's a duplicate question out there or you asked in the wrong place, it will get closed as a duplicate or people will help you find the right place to ask. If you're not a native English speaker, try your best. Eventually someone will see your question and care enough to fix it up so that it is readable to anyone.

  • Religion or Other Beliefs

    If you're not answering a question specifically about religion on a religion-related Stack Exchange site, chances are it has no place in your content. Religion has caused wars in the real world and we're not here to start any of those. If the religious content is not directly related to the question at hand, it should be left out. This also means not using religion as examples for a question. For example, if you were building a function for a religious website, you should change your code to remove any mentions of religion in the function in order to avoid conflict here. Remember that your problem should be helpful and useful to anyone who might have a similar problem in the future.

Things that don't belong in titles:

  • Non-Organic Tags

    Tags in the title are perfectly acceptable as long as they get worked into the title appropriately and become a part of the actual question. Explicitly labeling the question with a tag at the beginning or end of the title by using the [tag] format or just separating the name of the tag from the question with a dash (or other character) is not acceptable. The question already has tagging features and it should be listed there instead.

  • Solved or Closed

    If your question is solved, then accept an answer and be done with it. Appending something such as [solved] or [closed] to the end of the title is inappropriate as any question which has an accepted answer will already be visually indicated as such in the questions list.

    If you found the answer to your question elsewhere and no longer need assistance from the community, consider posting that answer yourself and accepting it so that you can help others who run across your question. Similarly, if your question was answered in the comments, you can try asking that person politely to expand their comment into an answer. If that fails, you can expand on it yourself to indicate exactly how you used the comment to solve your problem.

  • Interjections

    Including "Desperate!" or "Help!" in your title will not make responses any faster - in fact, it's a sure-fire way to annoy potential answerers. Focus on making your question worth reading and answering instead.

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Have you searched "high and low"?

An opening paragraph which contains a statement with no other information except that fact that the questioner has searched "everywhere" and found nothing to help them. Here is a classic example:

I have decided to ask this question here after a lot of time spending with Google. But I couldn't able to get the answer for my question yet. Here follows the details:

It is irrelevant to the question, and may or may not be true. It prevents a meaningful snippet of your question from appearing in the mouseover preview on the front page.

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Actually, I disagree. The very first rule of How to Ask is 'do your homework'. Telling us that you've searched, what you've searched/tried, and why it didn't work, prevents us from posting information as answers which you already tried without success. Not posting this information will often leave people to think the problem has a basic known solution, or the question is a duplicate, or (worst?) you did not put in any effort. –  Konerak May 8 '12 at 6:59
I'm talking about the paragraph that says nothing but the first part of your comment - that you've searched. Not what you've searched / tried and why it didn't work. –  jrturton May 8 '12 at 7:20
Interesting sidenote: 13 people upvoted this (so I assume they agree), but no one edited the classic example to make it a better question ;-) –  Joachim Sauer Jan 4 '13 at 15:39
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