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"Thank you" answers are generally not very useful, especially if they appear in masses. Some questions are attracting especially many of them and should probably be cleaned up by a moderator. A data-dump query shows:

8 Thanks

6 Thanks

5 Thanks

4 Thanks

(rest elided for brevity, use the SEDE query to see more)

Used query

The above lists were produced by this query:

select
   count(id),
   ('http://stackoverflow.com/questions/' || to_char(parentid, 'FM9999999'))
from posts
where posttypeid = 2 and length(body) <= 200 and (body ~* 'thank|thx')
group by parentid
order by count(id) desc;

(PostgreSql, ~* is a regex search.)

More thank you posts

If after these lists above someone would still feel the need to clean up even more - or just doesn't know what he should do the next month - a general query for LIKE %hank% shows many answers that don't add any value. With length(body) <= 100 basically all returned answers are not useful:

select
   ('http://stackoverflow.com/questions/' || to_char(id, 'FM9999999')),
   body
from posts
where posttypeid = 2 and length(body) <= 100 and (body like '%hank%')
order by length(body);

This query returns 2725 records. That's too much (and too boring) to go through by hand, and a simple delete in the database would be too extreme, so I guess they are here to stay.

Cleaning them up when they start "clustering" like in the above questions is probably the way to go; single thank you posts don't add that much noise that they couldn't be tolerated.

EDIT:

Here is an up to date list: http://odata.stackexchange.com/stackoverflow/q/886 - again tons to clean up.

Related query, showing just lots of short answers by 1 rep users: http://odata.stackexchange.com/stackoverflow/q/2587

That being said

... and kind of fitting the general topic of this post I want to add:

Thank you to all the moderators of the trilogy for spending their time for the good of us all, and for doing a very good job at it! You are always there when you are needed and make the sites a better place.

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8  
Thanks a lot for taking the time to post links to all of these. It's a big help. –  Bill the Lizard Jan 4 '10 at 15:10
7  
good stuff -- I'd like to turn some of these queries into reports we can run on our end –  Jeff Atwood Jan 4 '10 at 18:01
    
All the purely-"thank you" answers I could find in those links were by unregistered or totally new users. Furthermore, the body of topics seems like a speck relative to the total number of topics. Is this really a problem? Should the solution mainly involve (gently) directing new users to the comment feature? –  Mark C Apr 12 '10 at 22:51
    
sth, looking at the odata.stackexchange.com query (thanks for setting that up!) I wonder if we could achieve a similar effect by looking at questions with lots of short-ish answers by 1 rep users. I don't know that the "thanks!" part is as telling as lots of short, low rep user "answers" –  Jeff Atwood Jun 7 '10 at 7:37
1  
Bah, 8 thank you's and not even a nice answer badge. That's fixed now. –  Uphill Luge Jun 7 '10 at 10:04
    
@Jeff: Just looking for short, low rep posts also gives some good results, see odata.stackexchange.com/stackoverflow/q/2450 (Excluding CW posts, because otherwise it's just working as an indicator to find questions most improper for SO) –  sth Jun 7 '10 at 11:23
    
This question beats your examples now with 10 thank you's! –  abel Jan 8 '11 at 11:10
1  
"Thank you" is the "f1rst p0st" of SO –  abel Jan 8 '11 at 11:12
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11 Answers

Thank you for taking the time to make Stack Overflow a cleaner, better place for developersprogrammers!

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Thanks for the great idea! A++++ would rate again.

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1  
GREAT ANSWER! A+++ –  Mark C Jan 8 '11 at 12:19
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Your query actually under-calls it. I deleted 12+ from some of these... I haven't got far, but we'll get through them. Good work.

I've done everything down to and including the first 10 "3 thanks"; will try to do the rest later

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3  
Thanks for getting the first half. I took care of the rest. –  Bill the Lizard Jan 4 '10 at 15:09
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Yes thanks for bringing this to the communities attention!

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2  
Hehehehehehe... –  ceejayoz Jan 4 '10 at 14:01
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Solution to fix or decrease the Thank You posts (and comments)

thank you

Change the colour scheme and add some hearts.

@Jeff & Co.

make the upvote button brighter, bigger and gooey. On being clicked it should spew thanks and little red hearts, with a message that the poster can see your love(or a message like the above). The poster who gets the upvote, should be able to see these hearts in proportion to the number of upvotes.

Number of red hearts = 100 x number of upvotes, with 2000 being the max.

(2000 as a maximum may be less for many and this number is up for debate.I am all for filling every pixel with hearts.)

Gooeyness of the hearts should also be calculated separately.

All the thank yous and hearts floating around the page will make quite a lot of SO users allergic to thank you posts for a long time.

Brace for the negativity that will follow.

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2  
THANK YOU!!!!!! –  Mark C Jan 8 '11 at 12:18
1  
I upvoted that comment and here is my Thank you!That tells me that upvotes should not be anonymous, then people might refrain from saying @name thank you +1. not that I mind it. –  abel Jan 8 '11 at 12:25
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Cleaning them up when they start "clustering" like in the above questions is probably the way to go, single thank you posts don't add that much noise that they couldn't be tolerated.

100% agree.

There is a general consensus/style on SO that attempts to limit the amount of discussion, so when you help a user with his or her specific problem, and they want to thank you for your help, I think this should be allowed because there are no other means through the site for this to happen. (And I think it would be redundant to mention the specifics of why this kind of interaction is important for a community-driven site.)

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7  
They can say thanks: in a comment below the answer. It is not an answer, and should not be posted as one. –  George Stocker Jan 4 '10 at 14:29
    
Yeah, I was speaking generally, answers or comments. Certainly this type of communication should be done through comments, but a new user may be unfamiliar with how the system works. –  Jon Seigel Jan 4 '10 at 15:49
    
There's a giant box when they try to post an answer that asks them if they really want to post an Answer to their own question. How much more explicit can we be? –  George Stocker Jan 4 '10 at 17:45
    
I agree with you: we can't. So there's no point trying to fix things beyond a reasonable amount of effort on our part. Taking a hard line on soft issues like this only results in people being put off, even though it makes sense to experienced users. And that was the point I was making in my answer. Business clients always read the docs before phoning us, right? ;) –  Jon Seigel Jan 4 '10 at 18:24
    
Thanks for posting an actual answer instead of a fun "Thank you!" one. Really, thank you! –  Daniel Daranas May 25 '10 at 9:36
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You guys are the best! I'm bookmarking this wonderful site! Thanks for saving me hours of frustration!

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Thanks for giving me a reason to post an answer to a question and waste whomever is reading this's time...

Sorry, and Thank you!!!

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Now it's possible for questions to be protected from "Thank you" answers.

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good call -- I protected all of the ones with >= 4 "thanks!" answers across all 3 sites in the trilogy using the SEDE query odata.stackexchange.com/stackoverflow/q/886 –  Jeff Atwood Jun 7 '10 at 7:24
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You can now find these "thank you" questions via the review pages:

http://stackoverflow.com/review

Note that there are some custom sorts on the right hand sidebar below the tags, and one of them is for thanks.

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1  
Looks like the Wall of Shame. –  abel Jan 8 '11 at 10:34
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This would be a much lesser problem if people could leave comments without needing rep points.

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3  
... and it would be replaced with another even more annoying problem :) –  waffles May 25 '10 at 4:50
    
Meh; it would be about as annoying. –  Donal Fellows May 25 '10 at 8:13
2  
ah, the old "boil the sea" solution. Who needed a sea anyway? Stupid sea. –  Jeff Atwood Jun 7 '10 at 7:53
2  
I'm not familiar with the arguments, but it does seem strange that people can post answers before they can comment -- answers are far more obtrusive –  Michael Mrozek Jun 7 '10 at 15:57
    
@Michael, note that for newbies, posting answers (and questions) is the only way to get rep ;-) –  Péter Török Jun 8 '10 at 10:54
2  
@michael what's the ultimate goal of a Q&A system? To generate comments? Or to generate ... answers? –  Jeff Atwood Jun 17 '10 at 17:32
2  
@Jeff Naturally answers are better, but users with insufficient rep don't try to post a comment, realize they can't, and give up. They think "wait, but I can just post an answer with the exact same text instead -- I'll do that!". I'm not suggesting that posting answers should require rep, I'm suggesting posting comments shouldn't -- I'd prefer generating comments to generating "answers" that contain text that belongs in comments –  Michael Mrozek Jun 17 '10 at 18:00
1  
@Jeff Atwood, I have to agree with Michael - someone who can't leave a comment just leaves an inappropriate answer instead. Better to be cluttered with spurious comments than spurious answers. –  Mark Ransom Jun 22 '10 at 19:23
    
@mark then we'll protect the question, for popular questions. blog.stackoverflow.com/2010/06/new-protected-question-status –  Jeff Atwood Jun 22 '10 at 21:32
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