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I've recently been editing out things such as "hope this helps" and "good luck" from posts and was wondering if that crosses the imaginary line that seems to not exist in the scattered mess of questions on things that should be removed from posts.

So, let's build a neat community wiki with a list of everything (with brownie point for adding why). Please feel free to improve explanations or add other things that have been discussed.

What things should I keep out of my posts and titles?

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3 Answers 3

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There are plenty of things out there that users add to posts that make them harder to read by adding useless information and text that doesn't add anything at all to the post. Some other things should be removed for alternate reasons as well, but keeping the post straight-forward and on-topic is the key goal.

Things that don't belong in posts

  • Salutations, Signatures, and Taglines

    There are plenty of different ways people add in extra little lines that more or less act as salutations and signatures. From basic things like saying "hello", "good morning/evening", "thanks in advance", and "you're welcome" to more subtle things like "hope this helps", "I found a solution", and "this may be late but..." or "I know this is a really old question, but..." in answers, these small phrases do not contribute to the long-term value of the knowledge Stack Exchange knowledge base, and only add extra text that that may not be related or useful to the reader.

    As well, any kind of personal contact information should never be included in the body of a post.

  • Excess White-Space (Both Vertical and Horizontal)

    Extra white space that is not needed extends the page and creates unnecessary scrollbars that make viewing and analyzing code much more difficult and inconvenient. A common example showing two versions of this is seen below:

      $var1 = 1;
    
      $var2 = 2;
    
                              $var3 = 3; // Now this line will cause a horizontal scrollbar with even fewer characters...
    

    In this example, the extra line in between each line of code is useless. It only serves to add extra lines, while normally line breaks should separate blocks of code within a program that relate to each other. As well, the indentation of the last line makes no sense and creates a horizontal scrollbar. Re-indenting to match the rest of the code is appropriate. Be cautious when editing out white-space from posts, though, to make sure that the white-space you're removing is not relevant to the code. If unsure, ask the OP or leave it for someone else to deal with.

  • Comments, Comments, Comments

    Keep comments in the comments. Don't reply to other users' comments by editing your response into your post. Only edit in relevant information that improves your question or answer. Editing in a notice asking why people are downvoting your question is never an appropriate thing to do.

  • Offers of Financial Reward

    This is not the place for hiring someone to do work for you, even for the simplest of tasks. You are not allowed to offer any sort of financial compensation for answering any questions here. If you need someone to build an entire website or do some other form of contract work for you, try posting an ad on a site built for this purpose. Usually the question is still salvageable by just removing the references of the reward, so pay close attention to not remove vital parts.

  • Degradation of Self or Others

    Most often this occurs with users calling themselves "noobs". Everyone has to start somewhere, we were all "noobs" at one time, and it doesn't belong in the question. Of course, calling someone else a noob (or equivalent) is not appropriate either. Similarly, using things like "I'm an idiot" aren't great.

    Continuing of degradation, the FAQ clearly states you should be nice and treats others with respect. The use of words such as f*** and b**** (yes, I censored them) are not appropriate and definitely would not be considered "being nice" by anyone (see Are expletives (cursing, swear words or vulgar language) allowed on SE sites?). Even calling someone "stupid" can be considered offensive and can result in disciplinary action.

  • My Apologies

    Apologizing for asking a question is a sure-fire way for people to not take it as seriously. If there's a duplicate question out there or you asked in the wrong place, it will get closed as a duplicate or people will help you find the right place to ask. If you're not a native English speaker, try your best. Eventually someone will see your question and care enough to fix it up so that it is readable to anyone.

  • Religion or Other Beliefs

    If you're not answering a question specifically about religion on a religion-related Stack Exchange site, chances are it has no place in your content. Religion has caused wars in the real world and we're not here to start any of those. If the religious content is not directly related to the question at hand, it should be left out. This also means not using religion as examples for a question. For example, if you were building a function for a religious website, you should change your code to remove any mentions of religion in the function in order to avoid conflict here. Remember that your problem should be helpful and useful to anyone who might have a similar problem in the future.

  • Personal Identifying Information and other sensitive data

    For example:

    • Login information
    • Other people's real names
    • Real contact information
    • Real data from an employer/client/etc. that isn't public

    If you need to provide information/code/data about a project in your question, triple check that you've scrubbed all of that information out first. Redact logins, use dummy data, etc. If your question requires talking about people, use fake names or a placeholder like "Person A". When giving your location is required, only be as specific as necessary to answer your question.

    Note that this information will remain in a post's edit history if you don't edit it out within the first five minutes.

  • Changelogs

    For example: "EDIT: added more info as requested in comments"

    You don't need to tell people what you changed. There's a real changelog (revision history) that's visible to everyone upon clicking the edit card/link under a post, which takes you to the post's /revisions sub-page. And people who are following the post will get notifications about edits to the post.

Things that don't belong in titles

  • Non-Organic Tags

    Tags in the title are perfectly acceptable as long as they get worked into the title appropriately and become a part of the actual question. Explicitly labeling the question with a tag at the beginning or end of the title by using the [tag] format or just separating the name of the tag from the question with a dash (or other character) is not acceptable. The question already has tagging features and it should be listed there instead.

  • Solved or Closed

    If your question is solved, then accept an answer and be done with it. Appending something such as [solved] or [closed] to the end of the title is inappropriate as any question which has an accepted answer will already be visually indicated as such in the questions list.

    If you found the answer to your question elsewhere and no longer need assistance from the community, consider posting that answer yourself and accepting it so that you can help others who run across your question. Or, if the answer you found was on the same site, consider flagging your question for closure as a duplicate. Similarly, if your question was answered in the comments, you can try asking that person politely to expand their comment into an answer. If that fails, you can post your own answer to expand on it yourself to indicate exactly how you used the comment to solve your problem.

  • Interjections

    Including "Desperate!" or "Help!" in your title will not make responses any faster - in fact, it's a sure-fire way to annoy potential answerers. Focus on making your question worth reading and answering instead.

  • Vulgar language

    On sites that accept questions about vulgar language (e.g. English Language and Usage), vulgar language should be censored out of the title.

  • Spoilers

    It's best practice to keep spoilers for recent releases out of titles. This prevents spoilers from being shown across the network on the Hot Network Questions.

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  • How about [tag]-[question title] OR [tag][question title] ?
    – Ayman
    Oct 27, 2018 at 14:08
  • @Ayman What do you mean? That's clearly addressed: "separating the name of the tag from the question with a dash (or other character) is not acceptable."
    – wjandrea
    Jan 31, 2022 at 3:29
  • I think calling yourself a noob can be helpful in some cases, to indicate that the answer might be trivial for someone more experienced, but it might not be intuitive to a beginner. Although, if it's the term "noob" you have a problem with, you could swap it out with "beginner".
    – wjandrea
    Jan 31, 2022 at 4:28
  • @wjandrea: No matter how it is phrased, it is still meta talk and doesn't belong there. Even meta tags are banned on these sites. Jan 31, 2022 at 13:15
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    Perhaps add a new category for meta questions, like "Can anyone help me?". Jan 31, 2022 at 20:34
  • Another example (may be automatically deleted within 30 days or so): "Can someone help me please?" Feb 1, 2022 at 12:02
  • "Please help me fix it". More generally that call to action (like on a forum) is implied by posting here. Feb 1, 2022 at 12:54
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Have you searched "high and low"?

An opening paragraph which contains a statement with no other information except the fact that the questioner has searched "everywhere" and found nothing to help them. Here is a classic example:

I have decided to ask this question here after a lot of time spending with Google. But I couldn't able to get the answer for my question yet. Here follows the details:

It is irrelevant to the question, and may or may not be true (i.e. you may have missed some information or you may not be aware of some sources). It prevents a meaningful snippet of your question from appearing in the mouseover preview on the front page.

If you are the questioner, then instead of just saying that you've researched, say what you've researched, as well as what you found exactly and how it didn't help.

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  • 8
    Actually, I disagree. The very first rule of How to Ask is 'do your homework'. Telling us that you've searched, what you've searched/tried, and why it didn't work, prevents us from posting information as answers which you already tried without success. Not posting this information will often leave people to think the problem has a basic known solution, or the question is a duplicate, or (worst?) you did not put in any effort.
    – Konerak
    May 8, 2012 at 6:59
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    I'm talking about the paragraph that says nothing but the first part of your comment - that you've searched. Not what you've searched / tried and why it didn't work.
    – jrturton
    May 8, 2012 at 7:20
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    Interesting sidenote: 13 people upvoted this (so I assume they agree), but no one edited the classic example to make it a better question ;-) Jan 4, 2013 at 15:39
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Avoid meta marking edits/updates:

Don't mark your edits and updates as such. We have the edit history to show what is changed.

Avoid

I am trying to work out how to sort a list.
Update: I mean an array of integers.

Instead just write:

I am trying to work out how to sort an array of integers.

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