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Most answers that begin with “thank you” are from new users who haven't figured out how the site works. 99% of these should just be upvotes and accepts, and the few worthwhile outliers don't need “thank you” at the beginning. Evidently the limitations on self-answers aren't enough.

I propose to reject any answer that begins with the five letters thank (/^\s*thank/i, perhaps even /^[^[:alpha:]]*thank/i). Show an error message that explains how to upvote and accept answers, as well as how to ask a new question. First draft for self-answers:

Oops! This doesn't look like an answer. $site_name is a questions and answers site, not a discussion board. If you want to thank the people who answered this question, vote up the helpful ones by clicking the upward pointing arrow to the left of the answer, and mark the one that helped you most as the accepted answer by clicking on the check box outline to the left of the answer. If you want to add information to your question, click the edit button below the question text.

For non-self-answers:

Oops! This doesn't look like an answer. $site_name is a questions and answers site, not a discussion board. If you want to thank the people who answered this question, vote up the helpful ones by clicking the upward pointing arrow to the left of the answer. If you have a related but different question, ask a new question.

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13  
If they are new, they probably can't upvote... –  Adam Davis Jun 7 '11 at 21:10
    
What about comments (rather than answers) that begin with "thank you"? –  Scott Wilson May 14 '12 at 17:18
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4 Answers 4

up vote 14 down vote accepted

This feature already exists, and has for a while.

Try it yourself:

  1. Go into Google Chrome incognito mode

  2. Pick any random Stack Overflow / SU / SF question (this is not enabled on all sites, so..)

  3. Enter the following:

    great answer! thanks very much this helped me alot!!!

  4. Submit the answer.

  5. Watch what happens. (spoiler: you get redirected to http://stackoverflow.com/questions/how-to-answer )

(for bonus points, pay close attention to which section is at the top of that page.)

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3  
I did follow through, followed jeff atwood's advice, got a spam haiku. –  Anthony Pegram Jun 8 '11 at 1:43
2  
All I got was a standard CAPTCHA and "Oops! Your answer couldn't be submitted because: •Sorry, we are no longer accepting answers from this account. See goo.gl/C1Kwu to learn more." <-- this is not haiku, I am quite disappointed. Bring back the old words! –  Pops May 14 '12 at 13:08
    
@pop yep this is a regression, not sure when that happened, but we urgently need to fix it. –  Jeff Atwood May 14 '12 at 16:48
    
@PopularDemand there was a bug introduced a few days ago - a fix has been checked in will be rolled out soon. –  Jarrod Dixon May 14 '12 at 17:36
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thank you

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11  
I'm generally against adding heuristic on top of heuristic to catch all the little things. Let's instead give the community more and better tools so the problem is managed by the community. Those same tools will be used to fix other problems too, so it's a force multiplier to provide tools, rather than one-off fixes such as this. –  Adam Davis Jun 7 '11 at 21:15
    
Funny, I thought you'd have written <!--I don't want to be rejected-->thank you (and obviously if you know how to do you know what you're doing). –  Gilles Jun 7 '11 at 21:17
7  
I resisted the urge to edit in a signature. Hope this helps. Best regards, Tom. –  Anthony Pegram Jun 7 '11 at 21:18
    
@AnthonyPegram Considering the variety of signatures I've seen, no regexp is going to make more than a dent, and the risk of false positives is fairly high. Whereas I've yet to find an actual answer that should have begun with thank. –  Gilles Jun 7 '11 at 21:22
5  
@Gilles: "Thanks to the XYZ function, your problem can be solved quite easily: ..." –  sepp2k Jun 8 '11 at 0:39
    
This shows just how easily such a heuristic can be circumvented. Therefore, heuristics are not the best way to manage low-quality posts. While they certainly reduce the amount of moderation work required, we shouldn't rely solely (or even primarily) on heuristics to catch bad posts. –  DragonLord the Fiery Jun 9 '12 at 3:07
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On two occasions, I've ended up answering my own question while still getting useful help from others. Both times, I happened to mention another user out of appreciation (once to point out that my solution came directly from the other's code). I didn't start off with "thank you," but I can conceive of writing something like:

Thanks to foobar's code, I came up with the following solution...

or

Thanks for the good answers, here's what worked for me...

followed by the code I came up with. It's debatable whether something like that is necessary or good form, but it would only be a small part of what's otherwise a real answer.

It seems to me this suggestion isn't targeting answers like that, but rather answers that should be comments, consisting only of something like "thanks guys, it worked!" and not offering anything valuable to future viewers. Those should definitely be removed, but I don't see any way to do that except with the moderator flagging we use now. Doing it with a blanket regex like this would cause too many wrong results to be useful -- both false-positives and false-negatives.

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Faster Alternative to std::ofstream

After asking for the questioner's code in comments, which he supplied with an edit, I started typing my response:

Thanks for including your code; I have some comments...

Had I not known about the new autoreject, I would have found out after typing a fairly lengthy response. Here's hoping that the contents aren't thrown away completely.

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I think this proposal is just suggested for answers, not comments. –  Justin Morgan Jun 8 '11 at 13:58
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