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Since we're now in the Summer of Love, I am trying to improve my friendliness and all that jazz. In so doing, I'd like to write longer comments to bad first answers.

Examples of things I find myself writing over and over again:

  1. "Hi, I see you're new to SO. If you feel an answer solved the problem, please mark it as 'accepted' by clicking the green check mark. This helps keep the focus on older SO which still don't have answers."
  2. "Welcome to SO! You will find that you get better answers if you take the time to make your question reproducible. Please follow the guidelines here, paying special attention to the part about dput(). Thanks!

Each of these could be said in fewer words, but it wouldn't be as friendly, now would it? And each of them gets said over and over again. The solution is clearly a macro.

I have a fancy keyboard that I could program macros into, but the it occurred to me I'm not the only person to have this problem. Could SE implement macros for comments? You could program in two or three in your prefs and then have little 1,2,3 buttons appear while you were typing comments to recall the macro.

Macros seem like a more personalized solution to periodic requests to have automatic warning messages (e.g. for signatures).

The downside is that comments might become a little more formulaic. Solutions to this include not having that many macro slots (if you only have 2-3 slots you'll only use them for common annoyances), or limiting macros to comments on posts by new/low-rep users.

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You might try… – wax eagle Jul 23 '12 at 15:31
You could use this post to start building some templates -… – Lix Jul 23 '12 at 15:37
up vote 12 down vote accepted

Use AutoReviewComments. Features:

  1. Customizable texts
  2. Prefills the comment box, so you can edit and review before posting
  3. Quick user info on the poster (how long they've been here, etc).
  4. Automatic notification of new versions
  5. Import and export
  6. Per-site comment macros, or share comment macros between sites by defining an external source (DropBox sources FTW!)
  7. Question and Answer-only comment macros. By default a comment macro is for both types.
  8. Prefill the username into the comment, or include a 'type here' point for automatic focusing when you choose the comment macro.
  9. New users are automatically welcomed to the site as part of the comment. "Welcome to Meta Stack Overflow! [...]".

It'll make posting the same friendly, helpful comment easy, effortless, and quickly personified for every new user we want to assist.

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That does it. Splendid. Since the meta question linked to at the stackapp page is somewhat tangential, I don't think my question is a dupe either. – Ari B. Friedman Jul 23 '12 at 17:28
@AndreSilva: See AutoReviewComments - Pro-forma comments for SE – Martijn Pieters Jan 11 '14 at 18:44

If you are continually writing those comments, you should probably stop doing so.

Let the site do its job, you don't need to spam the same comment over and over to make your point.

Encouraging users to do this instead of just issuing these things in FAQs, warning and notification messages just adds noise to the site.

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I'm not talking every single question, but there are plenty of places where to answer the question I need to ask them for reproducible data. Right now I link them to the reproducible example page and request they use dput, but having the exact same comment instead of slightly different inferior versions is hardly a disadvantage. I do this maybe twice a week when it seems particularly appropriate. And a close vote or a downvote is distinctly less friendly to someone who just joined up. Example:… – Ari B. Friedman Jul 23 '12 at 15:47
Or you could just edit the question which improves the quality without adding unnecessary noise... – GEOCHET Jul 23 '12 at 16:00
For questions where I could feasibly edit, I either do so or provide reproducible code in my answer. Not infrequently on the [r] tag it is impossible to do so because they need to provide the data structure they are asking about or a sample of the data itself. – Ari B. Friedman Jul 23 '12 at 17:24

I use Clippings for Firefox (Iceweasel specifically - works fine).
There's a port of it for Chrome (not tested but seems to have good feedback).

You can have separate folders, so one for Stack, one for other sites, etc.
And name the titles as you wish, eg "No code in the question" etc.

Easy to backup and restore too.

Just search the Chrome addons area.

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