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Quite often a number of users will give similar answers to a question I post on Stack Overflow. Sometimes someone will give an answer that is interesting, but does not really help answer the question.

In all cases I feel a need to thank the people who replied to my question. Upvoting their reply isn't always appropriate, and only one reply can get the "answer crown". Commenting with a "thanks" comment on every response makes me feel like a bit of a bozo.

So, what's the etiquette?

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migrated from stackoverflow.com Aug 26 '09 at 17:59

This question came from our site for professional and enthusiast programmers.

4  
Why would something be worth a "thank you" but an upvote would be inappropriate? If it's good enough to merit public thanks then surely you're after something MORE than just an upvote? – Unsliced Jan 8 '09 at 9:22
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Unsliced, I encountered situations when answer was not very useful, but I didn't want to downvote it because it was not bad or misleading, so I just left a comment like "thanks for ..., but it doesn't apply to my case..." – aku Jan 8 '09 at 9:29
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@aku: you can just leave a comment saying: "This doesn't apply to my case, because..." - without the "thanks for..." – awe Mar 30 '12 at 12:13
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@awe Do we really need to be so minimalistic to the point of removing basic courtesies? I get that SE isn't a social site, and I appreciate the no-BS party line, but I don't see any issue if someone wishes to expend two small words to make someone feel validated and appreciated. – Leo King May 26 '14 at 23:20

10 Answers 10

up vote 127 down vote accepted

First of all, anyone posting here with the idea that they should be personally thanked for every answer they provide is going to be very disappointed.

If you really want to thank someone for a good answer, then you'll perhaps take the time to go through one of their questions and provide a good answer for some programming question they have.

Alternately, just "pay it forward" and answer another programmer's question. That's really what it's all about.

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58  
Thank you for your great answer! – Jarrod Dixon Jan 9 '09 at 8:30
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I think that the reason people want to say "thanks" is that an upvote is a quite impersonal and indirect way to thank someone, especially since the one who answered has no way of knowing who upvoted. Sometimes people just want to be a little more personable and less cold. – aquirdturtle Dec 23 '15 at 6:26
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@aquirdturtle then as I mentioned, go answer one of their questions -- in person. Personally. The best way to thank someone is to give them something they need, e.g. an answer to their question. Pay it forward. – Jeff Atwood Dec 30 '15 at 6:30
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@JeffAtwood That's just not always possible. Some people don't ask many questions and a rookie usually isn't going to be able to answer the questions of a veteran. – aquirdturtle Jan 1 at 17:58
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@aquirdturtle so answer someone else's question. Pay it forward. Help others in a tangible way. Typing a generic word is not helping anyone. – Jeff Atwood Jan 3 at 8:32

Vote their answer up.

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11  
That defeats the purpose of voting. The main purpose of voting is to get the most correct answers first. – Robert Jeppesen Jan 8 '09 at 9:49
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Well, if they answered the question, the answer should be correct thus deserving an upvote, no? – cletus Jan 8 '09 at 9:52
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@cletus: Not all answers are correct answers – richq Jan 8 '09 at 10:35
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I'M VOTING THIS UP! IT'S IRONIC YOU SEE! – Jeff Atwood Jan 8 '09 at 10:42
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The point is why would someone merit a thank you (either public or private) if an upvote isn't appropriate? – Unsliced Jan 8 '09 at 11:48
    
if it doesn't help with the answer its clearly a down vote. – Orkun Balkancı Jan 8 '09 at 12:01

For a really good answer I seek out other good answers the person made and give them a little extra sugar :)

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1  
This is does not conform to the spirit of SO, answers are voted up on there merits with reference to how good answer they are to the question not who wrote the answer and whether they answered something else well. SO has the means for detecting this sort of voting pattern. – AnthonyWJones Jan 8 '09 at 9:29
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Upvoting a good answer is entirely within the spirit of SO! I'm not saying blindly upvote everything, just select one question or answer you appreciate and upvote it. – Paul Dixon Jan 8 '09 at 10:21
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Paul, that is an excellent suggestion! Did others not see the word "good" in the phrase "seek out other good answers"??? Unfortunately I've run out of votejuice for now but will vote this suggestion up when I can. – j_random_hacker Jan 8 '09 at 10:24
    
See! I came back. You've reached the giddy heights of 0 points again ;) – j_random_hacker Jan 9 '09 at 7:48

The satisfaction of answering a question is, in itself, thanks enough.

Although - Nothing says thank you like cold, hard cash. :)

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Upvote and then do thanks (not in a way just "thanks", write something useful) if it's exceptionally good (where you believe one upvote doesn't enough).

I still don't see why we can't just give 5 upvotes at a time since everyone got 10 upvotes for a day.

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It would be nice to be able to give upvotes of differing magnitude, similar to 1-5 star ratings that feature on other sites. – Richard Everett Jan 8 '09 at 9:21
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On the other hand there's a lot to be said for the simplicity of the upvote/downvote system that SO has. In effect that gives us 3 rating levels. – Richard Everett Jan 8 '09 at 9:21

Say thanks.

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how? (already mentioned that thanking every respondant in a comment is a little bozo-esque) – Richard Everett Jan 8 '09 at 9:20
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I'd prefer NOT to get a "thanks". I don't like returning to a subject just to see a "thanks". Vote me up, it says the same thing, without disturbing me at all. Even if the answer is not directly related to the question, the vote is about how "helpful" it is, so you can still vote up. – myplacedk Jan 8 '09 at 9:55
    
@myplacedk I really don't understand how it's more obtrusive to hover over the mail icon at the top of the screen to see someone say "thanks" than it is to hover over the graph icon to see +10 on a question. – aquirdturtle Dec 23 '15 at 6:22

Two things that are not yet listed in the existing answers here:

  1. Accepting an answer. Use this to indicate that the answer was on spot and solved your case. This will give a 15 reputation boost to the answer author, and can be given in addition to upvote, making it a total of 25 reputation you can give the user you want to thank.

  2. Awarding a bounty to the answer. There is even a special bounty reason for this:

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I think "Thank You" is a form of reciprocity, it settles a mental debt that you owe to the person who helped you. Although I'm aware of the pay-it-forward suggestion, I have an irking guilt if I don't personally make a personal gesture of appreciation for their time (and since voting-up is anonymous, it does not qualify as "personal").

Perhaps this is a cultural difference, as I come from an overly polite culture where asking for help causes anxiety.

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I am not fighting for a crown or something like this. I just want to help and hope that someone helps me, when i have a question. The points and all this is an eye candy, but not the goal.

Thanks should be enough.

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I feel more or less the same. Although I also take the reputation. But a Thanks does the job nevertheless. – Trilarion Jan 13 '15 at 8:27

I usually comment the answer with a thank you and some other info. I feel the same as you.

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