Quite often a number of users will give similar answers to one of my questions. Sometimes someone will give an answer that is interesting, but does not really help with my question.

In all cases, I feel a need to thank the people who answered my question. It isn't always appropriate for me to upvote every answer, and I can only accept one answer. Giving a "thanks" comment on every answer appears to be frowned upon.

So, what's the etiquette?

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  • 7
    Why would something be worth a "thank you" but an upvote would be inappropriate? If it's good enough to merit public thanks then surely you're after something MORE than just an upvote?
    – Unsliced
    Commented Jan 8, 2009 at 9:22
  • 7
    Unsliced, I encountered situations when answer was not very useful, but I didn't want to downvote it because it was not bad or misleading, so I just left a comment like "thanks for ..., but it doesn't apply to my case..."
    – aku
    Commented Jan 8, 2009 at 9:29
  • 2
    @aku: you can just leave a comment saying: "This doesn't apply to my case, because..." - without the "thanks for..."
    – awe
    Commented Mar 30, 2012 at 12:13
  • 12
    @awe Do we really need to be so minimalistic to the point of removing basic courtesies? I get that SE isn't a social site, and I appreciate the no-BS party line, but I don't see any issue if someone wishes to expend two small words to make someone feel validated and appreciated.
    – Lou
    Commented May 26, 2014 at 23:20

11 Answers 11


First of all, anyone posting here with the idea that they should be personally thanked for every answer they provide is going to be very disappointed.

If you really want to thank someone for a good answer, then you'll perhaps take the time to go through one of their questions and provide a good answer for some question they have.

Alternately, just "pay it forward" and answer another user's question. That's really what it's all about.

  • 3
    I think that the reason people want to say "thanks" is that an upvote is a quite impersonal and indirect way to thank someone, especially since the one who answered has no way of knowing who upvoted. Sometimes people just want to be a little more personable and less cold. Commented Dec 23, 2015 at 6:26
  • 1
    @aquirdturtle then as I mentioned, go answer one of their questions -- in person. Personally. The best way to thank someone is to give them something they need, e.g. an answer to their question. Pay it forward. Commented Dec 30, 2015 at 6:30
  • 3
    @JeffAtwood That's just not always possible. Some people don't ask many questions and a rookie usually isn't going to be able to answer the questions of a veteran. Commented Jan 1, 2016 at 17:58
  • 2
    @aquirdturtle so answer someone else's question. Pay it forward. Help others in a tangible way. Typing a generic word is not helping anyone. Commented Jan 3, 2016 at 8:32

Vote their answer up.

  • 13
    That defeats the purpose of voting. The main purpose of voting is to get the most correct answers first.
    – Robert Jeppesen
    Commented Jan 8, 2009 at 9:49
  • 4
    Well, if they answered the question, the answer should be correct thus deserving an upvote, no?
    – cletus
    Commented Jan 8, 2009 at 9:52
  • 5
    @cletus: Not all answers are correct answers
    – richq
    Commented Jan 8, 2009 at 10:35
  • 27
    I'M VOTING THIS UP! IT'S IRONIC YOU SEE! Commented Jan 8, 2009 at 10:42
  • 9
    The point is why would someone merit a thank you (either public or private) if an upvote isn't appropriate?
    – Unsliced
    Commented Jan 8, 2009 at 11:48
  • if it doesn't help with the answer its clearly a down vote.
    – Orkun Balkancı
    Commented Jan 8, 2009 at 12:01

For a really good answer I seek out other good answers the person made and give them a little extra sugar :)

  • 3
    This is does not conform to the spirit of SO, answers are voted up on there merits with reference to how good answer they are to the question not who wrote the answer and whether they answered something else well. SO has the means for detecting this sort of voting pattern. Commented Jan 8, 2009 at 9:29
  • 18
    Upvoting a good answer is entirely within the spirit of SO! I'm not saying blindly upvote everything, just select one question or answer you appreciate and upvote it.
    – Paul Dixon
    Commented Jan 8, 2009 at 10:21

Two things that are not yet listed in the existing answers here:

  1. Accepting an answer. Use this to indicate that the answer was on spot and solved your case. This will give a 15 reputation boost to the answer author, and can be given in addition to upvote, making it a total of 25 reputation you can give the user you want to thank.

  2. Awarding a bounty to the answer. There is even a special bounty reason for this:


The satisfaction of answering a question is, in itself, thanks enough.

Although - Nothing says thank you like cold, hard cash. :)


Upvote and then do thanks (not in a way just "thanks", write something useful) if it's exceptionally good (where you believe one upvote doesn't enough).

I still don't see why we can't just give 5 upvotes at a time since everyone got 10 upvotes for a day.

  • 2
    It would be nice to be able to give upvotes of differing magnitude, similar to 1-5 star ratings that feature on other sites.
    – Richard Ev
    Commented Jan 8, 2009 at 9:21
  • 2
    On the other hand there's a lot to be said for the simplicity of the upvote/downvote system that SO has. In effect that gives us 3 rating levels.
    – Richard Ev
    Commented Jan 8, 2009 at 9:21

Say thanks.

  • 2
    how? (already mentioned that thanking every respondant in a comment is a little bozo-esque)
    – Richard Ev
    Commented Jan 8, 2009 at 9:20
  • 19
    I'd prefer NOT to get a "thanks". I don't like returning to a subject just to see a "thanks". Vote me up, it says the same thing, without disturbing me at all. Even if the answer is not directly related to the question, the vote is about how "helpful" it is, so you can still vote up.
    – myplacedk
    Commented Jan 8, 2009 at 9:55
  • 1
    @myplacedk I really don't understand how it's more obtrusive to hover over the mail icon at the top of the screen to see someone say "thanks" than it is to hover over the graph icon to see +10 on a question. Commented Dec 23, 2015 at 6:22

I think "Thank You" is a form of reciprocity, it settles a mental debt that you owe to the person who helped you. Although I'm aware of the pay-it-forward suggestion, I have an irking guilt if I don't personally make a personal gesture of appreciation for their time (and since voting-up is anonymous, it does not qualify as "personal").

Perhaps this is a cultural difference, as I come from an overly polite culture where asking for help causes anxiety.


I am not fighting for a crown or something like this. I just want to help and hope that someone helps me, when i have a question. The points and all this is an eye candy, but not the goal.

Thanks should be enough.

  • 1
    I feel more or less the same. Although I also take the reputation. But a Thanks does the job nevertheless. Commented Jan 13, 2015 at 8:27

I usually comment the answer with a thank you and some other info. I feel the same as you.


As on June 17, 2020, you can explicitly express the thanks to the user who answered the question with a reaction. You can read more about that in the blog -- Saying thanks: (testing) a new Reactions feature

This seems to be a decision made based on data-driven around as follows (I quote)

When it comes to answers, “thanks” appears in 1 of 6 comments. Although it’s less common on questions, the percentage of “thanks” comments have continued to slowly increase over the last few years.

I just thanked someone for an answer, it would look like --

enter image description here


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