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A high-rep member told the OP of this question that saying 'thanks in advance' is rude. Why is this so?

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It's not rude, merely extraneous. Ignore Greg. – user7116 Jul 11 '11 at 16:14
Simply because hardly anyone I come across saying thanks is actually thankful. – BoltClock's a Unicorn Jul 11 '11 at 19:22
It's a waste of bits. We prefer the tla tia. Too many ones being thrown away uselessly. We don't care about the zeros, of course, but we want to save ones if possible. – Adam Davis Jul 11 '11 at 21:14
If you thank someone inadvance for something they have not agreed to do it is considered rude as you are pressuring them unduly to acquiesce or be put in a bad position to refuse you. – GBa Jul 14 '11 at 19:40
Imagine if your boss said "I need you to come in Saturday, thanks in advance", then walked away. How would you like it? – GBa Jul 14 '11 at 19:40
Sorry, @Greg, your dogma doesn't seem to be finding too many supporters. Me personally I'm offended by the acronym "IANAL" because it has the word "anal" in it, but I don't go telling others they're wrong for using it. – Chris Jul 14 '11 at 22:02
Also, would you prefer he say, "screw you in advance"? Sounds to me like you'll be working Saturday either way :) – Chris Jul 14 '11 at 22:09
@Chris: I'm not sure what to make of this. "Thanks in Advance" is not rude on any planet I've ever visited. If anything, it is a gesture of consideration. What is rude is the amount of everyone's time this innocuous bit of trivia has consumed. – Robert Harvey Jul 15 '11 at 15:19
@Robert Harvey: indeed so. I don't think I'd care so much if it didn't keep cropping up and taking attention away from people's questions. – Chris Jul 15 '11 at 15:46
@Chris: Well, it's already covered adequately here anyway. – Robert Harvey Jul 15 '11 at 15:48
See also: english.stackexchange.com/questions/49218/… – SalmanPK Jun 1 '13 at 5:19

8 Answers 8

up vote 74 down vote accepted

I've seen this same user complaining about this before, and started an argument with 3 other users about it. I flagged the post and all the comments were deleted. (By the way, 1000 Rep is not really considered "high-rep"). Ignore him and the comment.

"Thanks in advance" is not rude in my book. I'm from the U.S. if that means anything.

Pointless? Definitely. Rude? That's quite a stretch.

If you want to, edit it out and flag the user's comment as unconstructive/obsolete, and otherwise ignore this type of comment. It's certainly not helping anything, and if the user really is offended by it, he is more than welcome to suggest an edit instead of complaining in the comments and wasting our time on meta, which IMO is rude.

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He can Go Thank Himself. – user7116 Jul 11 '11 at 16:21
Only an absolutely pedantic snob would consider "Thanks in advance" as rude. Besides, rather than being rude^H^H^H^H a charming fellow, he could have just edited the posts. – user7116 Jul 11 '11 at 19:02
I flagged one of the posts, looks like a mod zapped all the "Thanks in advance is considered rude" comments (it was close to 30% of the user's total comments). – Wesley Murch Jul 11 '11 at 20:21
I just used the rest of my flags on all his pointless comments. :/ – Brian Graham Jul 14 '11 at 19:33
Looks like he's getting the hint. (See revision 3) – Wesley Murch Jul 14 '11 at 20:08
Nope, he's back at it again... – Chris Jul 15 '11 at 4:33
The proper response to "Thanks in advance" is "You're preemptively welcome, supposing you'll still be grateful at this point." (From alt.usage.English, Feb 2011) – mmyers Jul 15 '11 at 15:37
@sixlettervariables Would you be an absolutely pedantic snob if you considered "You are welcome in advance" rude? It's the same logic. – Aillyn Nov 22 '11 at 18:45
@sixlettervariables: Look up "pedantic". I don't think it means what you think it means. – Lightness Races in Orbit Mar 6 '12 at 10:25
To the Right Honorable @LightnessRacesinOrbit, Inconceivable! Perhaps hyperbole is not quite as portable as once thought. Though if not pedantic, he surely passed it along before he went into plaid. Kind regards, – user7116 Mar 6 '12 at 13:40
@sixlettervariables: Cheers & hth. – Lightness Races in Orbit Mar 6 '12 at 13:45

In a linguistic sense, I think some people can interpret "Thanks in advance" as rude because it may indicate that you're not interested in sticking around for an answer - you're just going to come back and pick up whatever is left when you return. So I've heard, at least. On the linguistic scale, there's a better site to ask if you want to know how "Thanks in advance" can be interpreted as rude in this language.

In a site policy sense, we don't like "Thanks in advance" and similar not because it's rude, but because it's against our signature-and-salutations policy. You can read up on the basics in this question thread. In summary, it's basically a noise that's inbetween greetings (which take up space and delay the onset of reading the question) and signatures (which take up space and are extraneous), in that it takes up space as noise that doesn't contribute towards the actual question you're asking.

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Here's a bit of irony: Check out the closing line of the closest match I found on english.stackexchange (Not the right question, but somewhat close). I think OP should actually ask this on english. – Wesley Murch Jul 11 '11 at 16:28
@Wesley Note the closing point of the accepted answer. ♪ And yes, I do think it would be effective to ask on the site. – Grace Note Jul 11 '11 at 16:29
@Madmartigan It is there now english.stackexchange.com/questions/49218/… – Aillyn Nov 22 '11 at 18:46
There's also linguistics.stackexchange.com – Pacerier Mar 8 at 14:25
@Pacerier: Been there, done it, got the T-shirt. – FumbleFingers Mar 8 at 16:56
@FumbleFingers, What's "got the T-shirt" supposed to mean anyway? – Pacerier Mar 10 at 20:41
@Pacerier: It's just an expression. What I meant to convey was I've been involved in discussions about the subject of the current question on more than one SE site. I carelessly assumed your comment was in reply to Aillyn's, but I see now you were probably responding to Wesley. I am on linguistics.SE from time to time, but I don't recall this subject coming up there (they're above such things, I think! :) – FumbleFingers Mar 10 at 21:57

To me, "thanks in advance" implies an expectation of assistance. While not rude per se, it is somewhat offputting to see that expectation put out there. The thanking can wait until some assistance has been offered, and on this site an upvote or an accepted answer counts as a "thanks".

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Then how about "Thanks in advance if any"? – Pacerier Mar 10 at 20:42

I don't think that it is. But there are some issues with its use.

I'll list the ones that bother me:

  • People keep writing "thanks in advanced" instead, and that really irritates me. I'm sorry, but I can't help it: just knowing that you think there's a "d" on the end makes me angry.

  • As others have indicated, "thanks in advance" implies expectation of aid. To be fair, it's a realistic expectation given the nature of this site. I can see why someone would think it "rude", though I think that's a bit of a stretch. Really, though, "please" is far more appropriate; "thanks in advance" just seems a bit obnoxious.

  • This is already well-covered elsewhere, but "thanks" in general can seem a bit slimey. You're not actually demonstrating gratitude in any meaningful way. Did it put you out when you wrote "thank you"? Did it cost you anything to write that? You're pretending that you're being polite and grateful, but actually all you did was type a few characters. That's a little insulting. Instead of writing "thanks", just contribute to the community by voting, answering and commenting. That's how you can actually demonstrate gratitude... not by writing a few characters and pretending that it means something: no matter your kind intent.

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The last point really makes no sense. Typing "thanks" doesn't prohibit the user from contributing in all possible ways to this community, unless it's an hour-long exhausting activity. He can very well just do both. I don't get how if I want to express my gratitude to somebody I am being "insulting" and "pretensive". That's ridiculous and actually insulting. – Xiang Ji Apr 20 at 15:06
@XiangJi: I don't know what I can say now that I didn't say in the answer. If you disagree with it, or didn't grok it, I can't change that. "Thanks" is noise. A waste of space. Repetitive. Tedious. Pointless. Non-constructive. And it has no upside. Then, going further, asserting that it does have some moral upside is in fact not true. It's a completely empty symbol. You saying "thanks" to me gives me nothing, and if you think you're being really nice and kind by doing so then you're wrong and almost insulting me thinking that's all I need in life. That's what I'm saying. – Lightness Races in Orbit Apr 20 at 15:15

Saying "thanks" is a way of indicating that you have received something of value (or at least something you perceive to be of value). Thanking someone for a correct or insightful answer, for example, is certainly appropriate.

Where saying "thanks in advance" is problematic (in my opinion) is that it divorces the display of gratitude from the receipt of useful information. In other words, you're thanking unspecified people for things that they have not provided to you yet.

As noted already, it's certainly a pointless thing to say, but I suspect that it could also be interpreted as an indication that the poster does not value your time personally and is merely "going through the motions" in the hopes that it will land him an extra answer or two.

However, given the massive proliferation of language/cultural barriers and "newbie" developers (and the relative scarcity of genuine sociopaths, at least among software developers as far as I'm aware), I would tend to err on the side of, "The poster means well but is uninformed".

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In advance means "ahead in time." Thanks in advance means you are thanking people who answer before you get any answer. It doesn't seem to be rude, and it doesn't seem to imply that you are not going to read the answers given for your questions.

That said, normally on SE sites it's preferred if the question just contains the question being asked, and not phrases similar to "any help is appreciated," or "thank you for reading me."
Such phrases, even if they are an extra, are surely less noisy of any phrases added before the question itself, such as "Hello guys," or "Hello Drupalers," or "Ave, conncetioniorum virtualorum habitantes!" That is probably the reason why the greetings in a question have been removed before the thanks, which (as far as I know) are not yet automatically removed.

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Also, greetings cut into the question excerpts when they're shown in lists while extraneous fluff at the end of the question does not. – Brad Mace Jul 11 '11 at 18:45
It turns out that "thanks" is more difficult to remove than greetings (I remember Jeff talking about it somewhere), without causing unintented side effects. – Robert Harvey Jul 15 '11 at 15:15
@Robert: FYI, that was here. Though I still don't quite understand that logic. s/\n?Thank(s| you)\.?$//i seems pretty simple to me. – Lightness Races in Orbit Jul 17 '11 at 20:10

To understand why it's considered rude, picture this:

It's Christmas. The family is gathered around the tree, and you're all about to open presents. You stand up and say,

"Thanks in advance for any presents!"

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Somebody downvoted this answer. I guess in some families they actually do this! No offense was meant. :D – Kyralessa May 11 '12 at 17:36
I didn't downvote this, but in my opinion, the inference in this statement is that you should be thankful only for presents that meet some criteria of yours. That you shouldn't show reasonable gratitude for people who actually gave you something, even if it wasn't necessarily what you wanted. The problem with "thanks in advance" is that you haven't done anything to be worthy of it. In your example, you've already been given presents; you simply don't know what they are yet. – Nicol Bolas Jul 17 '12 at 1:18
@NicolBolas, among other things, saying "Thanks in advance" indicates that you're getting the gratitude part out of the way ahead of time because you can't be bothered with it later. And it's presumptuous. – Kyralessa Jul 17 '12 at 2:42
@Kyralessa, Actually I don't see how this is a good explanation. It doesn't differ much from saying "Thanks in advance" after posting a question. – Pacerier Mar 10 at 20:44

I see items like 'thanks in advance' as being rude because they are not needed and just take time. They remind me of how salespeople sometimes try to control my actions!

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I'd think you are thinking too much into it.......... – Pacerier Mar 10 at 20:45

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