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I just read this post by Jeff Atwood where he mentions that 50 rep should be enough for a user to have learned not to post "+1 AWESOME ANSWER!!1" comments.

Well, that got me thinking, I post a fair few "+1" comments, and now I feel shame. Sometimes I do it to:

  • Highlight the good part of an answer
  • Add something I hope has value
  • Let a user know that I really think they went above and beyond
  • In a young SE site, leave a marker for other new users to notice especially good answers

What makes a good +1 comment, and when should I just keep it to myself?

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Jeff is right: I'd never write that comment in all caps. AwEsOmE qUeStIoN !!1 –  belisarius Apr 2 '11 at 21:51
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A good "+1" comment is one that would be just as good without the +1 in front of it. By which I mean to imply that you should skip the "+1" bit and just write good comments. –  Shog9 Apr 12 '11 at 22:08
    
When I really think that a user went above and beyond, I write You really went above and beyond. I might add a +1 to that. –  intuited Apr 12 '11 at 23:18
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6 Answers 6

up vote 5 down vote accepted

I do agree with phwd's viewpoint that one does not need to post +1 comments to express their opinion. It remains that it is a common practice on the sites, and I do believe there exists an answer to your inquiry. But I think a 'good +1 comment' is not so much an entity of its own as it is just the opposite of a 'bad +1 comment'.

A 'bad +1 comment' does nothing. All it does is establish "I upvoted you", which is clearly done by the actual upvote. The bare points of "I agree" or "I think this is useful" are also expressed by the upvote itself. All of that information adds nothing to the post, and it's just taking up space. This is roughly equivalent to "me too" comments. You can accept on your own questions, and you can vote on other people's posts before you can comment on them. So use that privilege if all you wish to do is express gratitude or an effectively voiceless opinion on the usefulness of the post.

The opposite of a 'bad +1 comment', then, does something and adds to the post. It'll explain why the post deserved an upvote, or provide supporting evidence that proves the veracity of the post, or bring up a related bit of information that people would find helpful, or expand on the principles that the post provides. It doesn't matter how substantial it is, just that you're saying something more than just "I upvoted this". It can be as simple as "+1, very comprehensive answer".

I feel that '+1' is not so much a class of comments on its own, it's just a small thing you can tack onto any comment that you post. If it is your style to put these on your comments, then simply check whether your comment has any business existing without the +1. If it doesn't, then it's probably not a good or valid +1 comment.

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Often when upvoting answer by new member I add "+1 because.." or "Correct, I would do the same" just to encourage the member to keep posting good answers.

It's also pretty often that I have slightly different and better answer than existing one, so I upvote and put "+1 but here is little improvement" - the OP then can take it and put into his own answer.

Anyhow, I don't feel any shame just to post "Good answer, +1" on answer I think it better than just good even when posted by long time member who don't need the pet on the shoulder - it's only a comment and it express what I feel. If someone is offended he can flag it as noise and if the moderation team decide it's really noise I would obey and stop posting it - each place and its own rules you know. :)

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I sometimes feel a +1 as a sub-comment helps to quickly explain that overall I appreciate a post, despite some criticism on part of it. Like:

One should not forget [...]. And [...], so [...]. (But +1 for [...].)

Thinking about it, +1 above would not necessarily imply that I actually upvoted.

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I don't think anything makes a good +1. It is unavoidable sometimes for me, due to mere joy in seeing such a great/awesome answer but one must have restraint (or even slap themselves for the greater good).

Comments should be used to highlight something right or wrong with the answer by adding something more to that answer. You have something of value to say that does not need to stand on its own as an answer and can be included within that person's answer.

There are other ways to make notice to others that you think it is a good post.

There is also the "if he/she did it, why can't I too" syndrome. So if you stop, you can at least stop which ever percentage of the crowd that would have followed you.

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I am not going to +1 here. But I would have. –  NickC Apr 2 '11 at 7:16
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Especially in a long or subjective answer, like on p.se, a +1 comment can add the value of "point #3 of your 7 points is really, really good." That can help a reader decide to read the answer after all. So "+1 for mentioning contract law" or "+1 for suggesting OP sleep on it first" are not the same as "+1 AWESOME, I love it!" –  Kate Gregory Apr 2 '11 at 13:27
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I use +1 comments to highlight the part of an answer I have found particularly appropriate to the question asked. When I use them, I always say +1 for ....good reason here.....

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"+1 because..." comments can sometimes be useful and beneficial for the community, even if they don't add substantial new information. Explaining why an answer is good encourages the poster (and anyone else that sees the comment) to post similar answers in the future, by showing that there are people that upvote to recognize that good behavior. Merely upvoting it informs the poster of a good post, but is less informative because it doesn't say what specifically makes it good.

For example, if I see an answer that goes out of its way to explain a misconception that led to the poster to the issue that prompted the question (rather than only dropping some code that fixes it), I might add a +1 comment explaining this.

Similarly, as Kate Gregory pointed out, it's helpful to explain which part of a long answer makes it great:

Especially in a long or subjective answer, like on p.se, a +1 comment can add the value of "point #3 of your 7 points is really, really good." That can help a reader decide to read the answer after all. So "+1 for mentioning contract law" or "+1 for suggesting OP sleep on it first" are not the same as "+1 AWESOME, I love it!"


Obviously we shouldn't flood every useful answer with such a comment. It's often obvious why an answer is good and highly upvoted. But when you see something good for a more subtle reason, explaining why it's good with a +1 comment helps the community.

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