I edit a lot of posts every day. I often run across posts with 'Hi' and 'Thanks' on the top and the bottom of the post respectively. I also run across things like:


Should these items be removed during the editing of the post by an editor?

  • 172
    Whats wrong with hi or thanks? Boy what is this world coming to. Mundane mutes who just want answers. – JonH Jan 25 '12 at 17:13
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    Kill it with fire. You want to do social you get on Facebook. :) I like the questions just to be questions (without any noise). – PeeHaa Jan 30 '12 at 19:35
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    +1 three years passed and this subject continues to be discussed onto new questions everyday! – Zuul Jul 16 '12 at 22:02
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    I can't speak for ALL the users, but I've just found this question yesterday. Despite the fact I find this answers very useful, doesn't seem appropriate to call it "clear decision" since opinions continue to go both ways. – Zuul Jul 17 '12 at 14:32
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    Opinions do not go 'either way'. Look at the answers and the votes on them. Just because we have a vocal minority it doesn't override the overwhelming support for the removal of such extraneous clutter from posts. It also does not override the site policy listed below as well. – GEOCHET Jul 17 '12 at 16:27
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    Just to be clear, I've been editing a lot lately over on SO, and I've become a little worried that I'm being perceived as a serial editor for no point, I've been formatting code and correcting spelling but also I've removed a ton of Thanks, Thx, Please help !!! Cheers etc... Can one reassure me I'm alright with this behaviour otherwise I'll stop doing it, but I do feel like I'm improving the quality. – Daniel Aug 13 '12 at 21:44
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    There are about 247 votes for answers that are ok with 'thanks being added'! It's NOT a minority of SO users who think being human is fine and doesn't take up much space/time. Go through and add them up yourself. – Luke Stanley Aug 22 '12 at 20:11
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    While 247 people are technically in the minority, it's roughly half and half. In other words, the community is divided. – Herbert Sep 10 '12 at 16:45
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    I would love to see where you are getting your numbers from. You are clearly counting in a very skewed manner. – GEOCHET Sep 10 '12 at 16:48
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    @GEOCHET, let me be more clear. It can not. – Paul Aug 5 '13 at 8:52
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    Should we promote this to faq-proposed (with the appropriate work)? It seems like a good enough thing. – Cole Johnson Aug 13 '13 at 4:43
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    A better way to give back to the community than using an impersonal, empty thank you stuck at the end of a question before people even answer, is to: spend extra time making your question concise and clear, read all answers carefully, vote for the good ones, award the best answer with an extra 15 points, make comments on any new things you've realized that could help future readers, let an answerer know if something's wrong in their answer, etc. – Garrett Oct 13 '14 at 21:06
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    In some places, it just doesn't make sense to add a thank you tagline. Stack Exchange is a site for disseminating information. Notice that articles in academic journals don't end with Thank you. – Garrett Oct 13 '14 at 21:20
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    @Garrett So taking the ~50.000 views of this question, considering ~8000 assuming a uniform distribution over time and half of the viewers actually reading the comment, your comment has cost ~ 100 words / 2 words * 0.5s * 8000/2 = 25 h of viewers' lifetime. No offence intended, but efficiency considerations of this kind are ridiculous, other aspects of noise in the content and its presentatIon will drown the cited loss by far. Btw, reading and comprehension efficiency increases with a positive mood which is possibly furthered by formal politeness. – collapsar Aug 12 '15 at 7:33
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    @Andy: If you're implying that the pro-fluff side is mostly pragmatic, salt-of-the-earth types who just want to get things done, that doesn't add up very well, as the primary argument against fluff has always been that it gets in the way of getting things done efficiently. If you're implying that the elitist "really into programming" types (???) are pro-fluff, that's belied by the actual users involved. So while there's certainly a cultural divide, it doesn't appear to have anything to do with the groups outlined. – Nathan Tuggy Mar 10 '17 at 0:22

35 Answers 35

up vote 855 down vote accepted

I've always been against the greetings and salutations (along with other extraneous clutter) in questions for a number of reasons:

  1. It will leave even less room in the question preview so that we have more difficulty gauging what a question consists of by reading the preview.

  2. It takes time to read and parse through those questions when I am trying to spend my time more efficiently reading through the actual question and figuring out how to appropriately answer it. If I have to start reading all the little side comments and snarky humor inserted in there it detracts from the overall message.

  3. If this is supposed to be a website which is servicing more than just the primary author, we need to think about how we construct messages so that they appear more clearly to those searching on google for questions that match their own. If I am looking for a solution for question X, I want to find someone who had the same problem, not their short autobiography and formalities before getting to that actual question.

  • 202
    And here I have to come in with a possible disagreement. These points seem to be valid if the greetings, etc. are sufficiently extensive -- but I fail to see how a simple, three-character "Hi," at the beginning would 1) significantly reduce the room in the question preview, 2) significantly add to the time required to read and parse the question (there's a huge gulf between a three-character greeting and plural "side comments" and "snarky humor"), and 3) be the same as an autobio in terms of both length and distracting potential. – The_Sympathizer Sep 11 '12 at 21:14
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    Yet to justify banning all greetings, the reasoning must be sufficiently good as to be able to persuasively dismiss even the most trivial cases. – The_Sympathizer Sep 11 '12 at 21:16
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    I've been losing my Thanks on my posts and was sent here. I completely disagree with the unbridled hunting down and destroying of sweet and innocent niceties from posts. Let's keep the human touch. Let's face it, developers get the bad rap of being nerds, awkward and socially unaware, sitting in their mom's basements coding all day. Let's not lose the one little bit of humanity we have to hold on to. Let's say 'Hi' and 'Thanks', or at least, let's reserve the right for someone who wants to say it can say it without it being ripped out. – David Lozzi Jan 22 '13 at 17:15
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    @David Lozzi: Totally agree with you. We are humans, a single line giving thanks should not be deleted. – spekdrum Jan 24 '13 at 15:41
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    @jontro My policy is to either flag edits that consist solely of that as "Too minor" or improve and fix some other things and uncheck "Suggested edit was helpful". – phant0m May 11 '13 at 13:01
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    Openings with "hi", "greetings" and similar are for writing letters, you don't often see them used on internet forum posts. So they are unnecessary, a forum post is not a letter. I see no harm with a polite "thank you" at the end though, that's just good manners. If you edit a post to remove a "thank you", it probably just means that you, the editor, have poor manners. Of course remarks like "please reply quick I have a deadline" or "any well-formatted, compilable code is acceptable" are just irrelevant clutter, on the border to rudeness, and should be removed. – Lundin May 14 '13 at 10:02
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    @DavidLozzi I understand your concern, but this is intended to be a reference site, not a social site. One of the things that attracted me to this site was the straightforward presentation of problems and solutions. Whenever I google searched a solution to a problem, and went to a forum, it was always irritating to have to scrounge through playful banter and inside jokes before I actually found the answer I came there for. Even a brief "hi" or an "I'm doing a homework assignment that's due in 3 hours" subverted my attention span. I guess maybe not everyone is like that. – Ataraxia May 30 '13 at 18:48
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    Police the intent. Don't remove everything. For those that don't ramble and aren't actually making their questions harder to read by extraneous text leave it alone! Simply giving a one-line thanks is good. To do otherwise would be actually be rude. Expresing appreciation for what the community does here, without making it harder for them to do that, is a good thing. Single line greetings/thanks do NOT make it harder. – Drexl Aug 20 '13 at 17:56
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    Stack Overflow is visited by thousands of people from all over the world and is thus a very high profile representation of the technology community. Systematically hunting down and killing even a few hints of humanity like "thanks" that don't clutter questions or make them hard to read, reinforces the negative stereotype that we techies are just emotionless robots with Aspberger's syndrome. – user316117 Oct 18 '13 at 16:47
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    I agree with the reasons presented here and would like to add that essentially, SO is like a reference book, not a place for conversations. In such a book, the author does not start single chapters or even paragraphs with statements like "Hi, it's me again." It would seem unfitting, just like it does on SO. – O. R. Mapper Jan 16 '14 at 14:50
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    I'm of the opposite opinion to @mike4ty4; it's the trivial cases that are the worse. If someone writes an actualy sentence that expresses thanks toward a particular person or people and perhaps adding how it helped them with something related (if it wasn't their question), or points out how a comment led to an answer etc. then I'm all for it (and do so). It's the trivial thanks, salutations and valedictions that are clutter duplicating what is already implied. – Jon Hanna Jan 27 '14 at 14:35
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    Personally, I get annoyed when someone (and it looks like someone is following me and only deleting my "thanks") dehumanizes my post. I say thank you for a reason. And, what about comments that say thanks? Should we remove them too? What about "thanks, that solved my problem"? Isn't that what the checkmark is for? – spinlock Feb 3 '14 at 20:05
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    @spinlock Yes, comments that say only "thanks" should absolutely be removed, since they are just noise. See the question Comment Moderation Policy?: "Comments have two sanctioned purposes: to clarify a post, and to ask for clarification. That's it. Any other use of comments makes them subject to removal." – ThisSuitIsBlackNot Jun 20 '14 at 21:56
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    @ThisSuitIsBlackNot Thanks – spinlock Jun 22 '14 at 16:51
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    beep boop we are robots and have been programmed not to feel appreciation – user3731378 Jun 27 '14 at 19:48

We now automatically remove salutations from posts as they are entered.

I got really tired of performing this edit over and over, so anything matching the form of …

^                 # begins at start of body
\s*               # possible spaces
hii?(?![a-z])|    # any of these greeting words
.*?               # followed by anything, up to...
[.,;!-]+          # one or more bits of punctuation
\s*               # possible spaces
(\r?\n)+          # one or more newlines

… is removed automagically at the time of submission to the server.

The thanks parts at the end of posts are much more difficult / risky to detect, so we are not touching those for now.

Some stats based on a local copy of the Stack Overflow database: questions starting with …

  • hi 300,455
  • hello 107,646
  • hey 22,697
  • dear 3,998
  • greetings 1,978
  • hai 964
  • guys 921
  • hii 512
  • howdy 483
  • hiya 344
  • hay 296
  • heya 207
  • hola 56
  • hihi 6
  • salutations 5

I've also removed most of the salutations (per above) across the network from existing posts.

  • 107
    I hope you also inform the user about this at that time, otherwise I'm sure we'll get a lot of confused users here on meta again... – fretje Jun 6 '11 at 9:14
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    @fretje - I doubt many users who do this will notice, much in the same way they probably don't notice tag synonym silent updates. There's another largish class of users who obviously don't re-read/QA check their new posts after pushing the button who I'd say are the most prolific of the salutation prefixers - I think they'll never cotton on or will care. – Kev Jun 6 '11 at 10:20
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    So glad to see this. How about torching signatures, too? And perhaps crap like "thanks in advance?" Great, thanks in advance. – Justin Morgan Jun 7 '11 at 14:21
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    Have you told Jin? (I'm strongly in favor of this filter on main sites, but weakly against on metas. It's completely natural to start “Hi, I'm someone you've never seen before and I'm going to do something important to your site” with a greeting.) – Gilles Jun 7 '11 at 22:00
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    hiii, may be hii? -> hii* – YOU Jun 9 '11 at 6:49
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    "… Sir", "Sir" "No Sir" seems to be used at the start of posts by some people – Ian Ringrose Jun 29 '11 at 12:14
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    Hopefully no one will create a language called Salutations! in which all the keywords are greetings. It would make for an interesting "Hello world" application... ;) – TrueWill Sep 10 '11 at 19:46
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    Hello world is a program I really can't get to work. I'm getting a... :P – borisdiakur Jul 17 '12 at 14:39
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    So I can cheat the filter with the German "Hallo"? :) – Hristo Iliev Jul 31 '12 at 10:22
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    So that's what's breaking my Lolcode-related questions :( – toniedzwiedz Aug 8 '12 at 15:20
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    Interesting numbers you have there - close to half a million posts with a starting salutation, might be telling us something... – SomaMan Oct 25 '12 at 9:10
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    Interesting. Perhaps the on page HTML editor could highlight that regex in red in the preview pane, with a strikethrough and a mouseover that explains the reason that this stuff is getting removed. – Alex C Jan 9 '13 at 15:02
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    Please please please do this for "thanks" and signatures also... – Doorknob Jan 30 '13 at 13:58
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    This is truly awful.. I don't see how a simple "Hi" would hurt someone or take this tremendous amount of time to be read. And as I wrote a few minutes ago - when you call support over the phone, they say "Hi" and they say "Have a good day", despite the fact it won't help you anyhow.. Let's stick to that pretty weird robot style of communication.. – Andrey Popov Jun 3 '14 at 12:41
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    Came here because my "Hello all" got deleted and I got no notice about it and was very confused. How very unsocial this place has come to be. – maryisdead Nov 3 '15 at 9:09

Yes. I view this in quite a simplistic way. Let's take your action out of the equation - if we had two parallel worlds, one with the question including the greetings, etc, and one without, which would we choose?

I'd choose the world where the questions just had the required information, as readably and concisely as possible.

Your actions make that world reality, so +1 from me. Admittedly that's treating your time as if it were free - it could be that you could spend the same amount of time on more useful edits, but I'm never sure that flies. The actual act of removing the greeting probably doesn't take much time, and by the time you think "No, I won't bother" you'd already have read the question and thought of doing it anyway.

(If the user then rolls back the edits insisting that they really want the greeting, then I'd suggest leaving it alone, but that's a slightly different matter.)

  • 12
    Wow, that's exactly what I say to people who accuse me for things like not saying this stuff all the time. People here spend 90% of their phone calls saying useless stuff. I think these things are created by telecom companies for their own benefit! – xmm0 Jul 6 '09 at 22:04
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    You would choose a universe of emotionless machines? – hasen Jul 8 '09 at 16:09
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    @hasenj: I choose a world where strangers try to convey information rather than impersonal greetings (they're not really saying "Hi" to me). I interact with people in person or on chat when I want to exchange pleasantries - questions and answer sites are for information. – Jon Skeet Jul 8 '09 at 16:13
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    Jon, I wish I had rep high enough to write your 4 paragraphs as 3 and save 2 lines, which amounts to many lines not read in total. – Joe Polski Jun 9 '10 at 18:38
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    @hasen j - "emotionless machines?" Yes, I'd pick that, since every time the machines develop emotions, they turn into Skynet... – John C Jul 8 '10 at 15:57
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    Hi Jon, I think you're right. I hate salutations. Best regards. --- Sarcasm --- – Roberto Aloi Jul 22 '11 at 13:16
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    What bothers me is the desire to have everyone operate identically. Some don't like salutation/thank yous and that's fine. But some of us do. So why should everyone be forced into the exact same approach? Personally I like the fact that people are different. – David Thielen Aug 14 '11 at 0:49
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    @David: If there's no concrete benefit one way or the other, that's fine. But there is concrete benefit in removing greetings - it makes more of the useful part of the question visible in the snippet on the main page. This isn't some arbitrary attempt at homogeneity - it's for a very good reason. – Jon Skeet Aug 14 '11 at 6:15
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    Jon - you have a good point about the snippet shown on the main page. But what if you used your auto-stripper not on the post, but on what you pull to show on the main page? With that said, I don't use salutations here because no one else did (I thought that was voluntary not enforced) - but I do close with thank you as I consider not adding that impolite. – David Thielen Aug 14 '11 at 15:08
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    I agree with @DavidThielen. It makes sense, for technical reasons, to skip the greeting. A "Thanks" at the end, however, conveys both gratitude and humility. When I ask a question, I am well aware that people will take time away from other valuable efforts, professional or private, to answer my question and add value to the community. Even if someone simply takes the time to read my question they have made some effort for which they will never be recompensed. I think that deserves a simple, courteous "Thanks". – JDB Aug 24 '12 at 19:04
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    @Cyborgx37: I still think it's basically white noise in the grand scheme of things. It's fluff which is only distracting. I'd rather questioners expressed their respect by putting more time into asking a good question :) – Jon Skeet Aug 24 '12 at 21:57
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    @JonSkeet I understand your point of view. And I think it's fine that many choose to not do it. What I disagree with is that this approach is imposed on all. I would never tell you that you must say thanks. But why am I told I can't say thanks? – David Thielen Aug 26 '12 at 20:38
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    In a perfect world, people wouldn't have questions :P – m3dl Oct 10 '12 at 18:29
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    For someone to take the time to edit out a "Thanks" seems a bit beyond the call of duty to me, personally I'd have more pressing concerns... – SomaMan Oct 25 '12 at 9:11
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    @SomaMan: It's fine for you to decide not to use your time that way - but I would still rather see the post without the "thanks" than with it, so if someone has to choose between (say) performing that edit or watching some TV adverts, I'm absolutely fine for them to make the edit. – Jon Skeet Oct 25 '12 at 9:44

Usually salutations don't take up enough space to make a huge difference in the preview lines and taglines take up none at all unless the question is really short.

So, if the post has nothing else wrong with it and is just bookended with "Hi/Thanks", then you can probably pass on the edit. There are posts which need attention much more than these.

Also, cutting other filler-ish lines and rearranging sentences to make the edit seem larger so you can justify taking out salutations/taglines seems a bit childish. I've seen it in a few cases and would not like it to become the norm.

I think it boils down to the semi-personal nature of the site itself. It's half technical paper and half discussion. We aren't robots and we aren't speaking to robots. Some people just want acknowledgment of that fact.

  • 8
    +1 overall, but I do think leading salutations should be culled. – Lawrence Dol Jul 7 '09 at 2:33
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    I disagree on leading salutations, but the bigger issue is that I believe any edit which is a positive one, regardless of how small, is a good thing. Since I think eradicating salutations is a positive, I don't mind when people simply edit to delete "Hi". – Hilarious Comedy Pesto Jul 7 '09 at 18:06
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    "There are posts which need attention much more than these." But I've already read it, and it takes 4 seconds to remove them. Who are you to dictate that I should spend my 4 seconds doing something else? – Lightness Races in Orbit Feb 25 '12 at 19:03
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    I agree in that, when somebody IS trying to act a little more human, then editing out their little human bit of emotion ends up feeling to them like a slap in the face, vs. a correction. Which means that you end up with ridiculousness like: stackoverflow.com/questions/6626227/… ... which to me seems like a big waste of time. Since this site is not a technical manual...people are inevitably going to post casual language. "Correcting" that involved a much difference response than simply fixing grammar, or rephrasing for better clarity. – johnnietheblack May 7 '12 at 19:22

I personally do not think that salutations and taglines alone justify an edit for them to be removed from a post. If the question or answer has other reasons to justify an edit, sure go ahead and clean them up while you're in there. But as a general rule of thumb for me, I don't think it's a big enough deal to justify an edit.

I completely agree with Jon's answer in terms of the perfect world where the question is just the question with no clutter (salutations and taglines). So in the ideal world, they are not there to begin with. But if they are there, I still probably wouldn't edit them just to remove the clutter.

  • 41
    there are nearly always other things to edit in questions that contain salutations. If i see a hello my dear friends I just start editing and read the rest of the question in the edit mode and fix all the other stuff that is found in there most of the time. – Janusz Jun 10 '10 at 7:59
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    I think they should always be removed because I view this site as a long-term reference rather than a forum. It helps all of us when we clean out the cruft, even if it's a small edit to remove small parts that contribute nothing to the understanding of the question. Not performing this cleanup because you feel the edit is to small is counter-productive. – Starfish Oct 1 '12 at 19:13
  • Your perfect world is probably right to the Heaven door. – shani Apr 8 '13 at 6:18
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    @Starfish — No. Not doing something cannot be counter-productive. – Nicolas Barbulesco Nov 3 '13 at 17:49
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    "The largest room in the world is the room for improvement" - so there is a lot of editing to be done, everyone. – user291305 Aug 2 '16 at 14:08

If the author of a question uses a salutation and/or ends with a "Thanks" in his question because he/she is trying to be nice/respectful to others that might be answering his/her question, I see absolutely no problem with that. And, in fact, sometimes I find it kind of refreshing.

I can at least see the argument (although I strongly don't agree) for someone removing the salutations if he/she is editing the question for technical correctness or other things in order to make the question more concise. However, I absolutely think it is bush league with no legitimate justification to just edit an author's post to solely remove salutations and that is all.

If Stack Overflow, Meta, etc. want to ban the use of salutations, thank you's, etc. then do so explicitly. It is not like there are not other rules for these forums. You can make a rule via a dictatorship or via a democratic process... I don't care.

But, as evidenced in this thread, there is clearly a split about whether or not salutations or the like are OK in questions (maybe a majority leaning towards no).

To me this is all about common sense. It takes realistically unmeasurable time to read a "Hi" or a "Thank You", and to me, the personal benefits of seeing those words if someone chooses to use them outweighs what I consider a weirdly rigid regiment of question asking by some.

I actually find this whole conversation a bit disturbing. I for one am not going to teach my kids that is wrong to say "Hi" or "Thank You", even in electronic form, even for "fear" of being downvoted, edited or deleted.

I guess for now, until such a hard and fast rule is in place regarding this issue, I will probably mix using salutations and not using them. If I do, I will feel no shame about it and I suppose I cannot stop someone from taking them out; I guess I will just have to determine whether or not it is worth it for me to put them back in.

  • 4
    You are not the first. This has been a brewing subject which erupted months ago before. – TheTXI Jul 7 '09 at 1:40
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    @TheTXI, I am sure, but I think it was a discussion between me and another Meta member in that thread I mentioned that led him to ask this particular question here today. – Joel Marcey Jul 7 '09 at 1:52
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    why would people "fear" being edited? Edits to your question are a good thing - they're trying to help you get better answers. Downvotes and deletions are another thing, but I don't think anyone is asking for that. – André Paramés Jan 13 '11 at 13:34
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    @And Removing a thanks never gets the OP a better answer. – Bastardo Aug 1 '11 at 10:34
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    thank you - for your support of thank you :) – David Thielen Aug 14 '11 at 0:46
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    @RoboLover: SO is not just for the benefit of some single OP. It's for everybody. Certainly I'm not here giving my time to help clean up the messy questions just so some kid in Arizona gets the solution to his problem (that he just didn't bother researching in the first place) – Lightness Races in Orbit Feb 25 '12 at 19:04
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    @RoboLover: Nice. I hope your family is well, and that you are blessed with sunny skies; best regards and salutions, yours always, – Lightness Races in Orbit Feb 26 '12 at 12:54
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    @LightnessRacesinOrbit same to you my friend. – Bastardo Feb 26 '12 at 21:55
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    I completely agree with this position. I'm one of those crazy people who likes to give small tokens of respect and appreciation to people I'm asking a favour of, and to receive them in the reverse situation. – j_random_hacker Nov 21 '12 at 18:04
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    I agree that the time it takes to read a simple 'hi' or 'thank you' is unmeasurable by most humans. Granted, extensive BS that does nothing to improve the question or answer should be culled. I can even agree to culling opening greetings, but when someone says 'thank you' to another user who has answered their question, that is simple good manners. I have tried to thank everyone who has helped me in the time I've been here, and if someone has edited those out for no other reason that to "improve their stats", which is really what this all boils down to -- well, they have my pity. – Deina Underhill Apr 7 '13 at 22:55
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    I disagree; even a small amount of time take to read something is not unmeasurable and certainly not zero. In many psychological AND UI experiments, ]even a tiny amount of delay can cause distraction or unread content](nngroup.com/articles/f-shaped-pattern-reading-web-content). While a small token of respect and appreciation might be well received, it may also significantly detract from understanding (and therefore adequately answering) the very question asked. – Alice Aug 10 '14 at 6:08
  • It's really we don't remove any thaks, thank you or regards? – PersianGulf May 15 '15 at 2:37
  • It takes literally less time to read all the "thank yous" ever written on stack overflow than the time it would take to measure the time taken by reading "thank you" on stack overflow. Just sayin'. – Wildcard Mar 15 '16 at 3:17
  • I no longer feel the urge to greet my reader before plunging into my question. I work hard to express my question in plain, unambiguous, grammatical, and correctly-spelled language. I go through several revisions to make the reader's job as easy as possible. If someone has made the effort to read all the way through to the end, I appreciate it and I close with "thank you." Thanks to this answer, I will continue doing so without hesitation. If it bothers anyone, then as @DeinaUnderhill said, they have my pity. – Chap Dec 16 '17 at 17:53

Absolutely not! I have to agree with toast - there's no reason we can't be a bit more informal and attempt to interact with the community on a more human level. If this is how the majority of programmers interact with their peers (no greetings, all information), then I'm really glad I don't have to deal with that every day.

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    Hi, Andy. It is my hope that this message finds you in good health and better cheer! I'm waiting out a rainstorm here, the sort of fast and heavy summer rains common to the southern parts of Colorado - you may be familiar with them. But enough of these matters: I write to you today for a singular purpose, that of expressing my disagreement with your reasoning in the above answer. While I can certainly appreciate the desire for familiarity among peers on SO, ultimately I feel it serves only to distract casual readers from the intended message. Please give my best to your family; sincerely, Shog – Shog9 Jul 6 '09 at 22:40
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    Shog, I respectully disagree with your disagreement, but love the effort you made. – Antony Jul 6 '09 at 23:12
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    What I find funny is that your answer says you agree with me, but you have more upvotes than I do. Apparently agreeing with me is better than being me. :D – toast Jul 6 '09 at 23:24
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    Dearest Shog9, Thanks! I really appreciate the time and effort that went in to your response. I can tell that you put some thought into what you were saying and took the time to make the spirit of your answer clear so as not to unintentionally offend me. Thank-you also for the well-wishes; they are happily received. – Andy Mikula Jul 6 '09 at 23:30
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    @toast: I wrote my answer and only afterwards did I see your 'speaking to robots' comment - nonetheless, I'm glad someone out there agrees! – Andy Mikula Jul 6 '09 at 23:32
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    I just thought it was funny the way it voted out. People are strange creatures. – toast Jul 6 '09 at 23:39
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    But SO questions are not about interacting with your peers. They are questions. This site is a knowledge resource, not a chat. – Lightness Races in Orbit Jul 27 '11 at 20:41
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    @toast: "agreeing with you" is also a constraint more easily met by members of the general public, than "being you". Which is the reason I think it is favoured :) – sehe Aug 22 '11 at 21:19
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    @ajm - Love your reply to Shog. We live in the aftermath of The Enlightenment where we think we've put rationality first (for rational reasons of course), but actually we've only put rational-sounding arguments on a pedestal. One result is that people are obsessed with concision—things that appear "to the point"—but easily ignore effects that aren't as immediately apparent. Sometimes, as you demonstrated beautifully, informal, "irrelevant" comments do make a huge difference, in priming the listener for a different context than one he or she would normally expect—similar to disclaimers. – Andrew Cheong Mar 18 '14 at 9:23

I'm now against salutations at the start of a question or answer because it clutters the preview on the front page question list, but don't see the harm in a 'Thanks in advance' or 'Thanks for looking' at the end. We can't live lives of total formality.


Having seen the light and having been a mod for a bit, these things have become offensive to the eye now :)

I think SO posts look so much cleaner without salutations and sigs/tags than the posts on some of my pre-Stack Overflow haunts.

  • 9
    they're not as bad, for sure -- stuff at the top hurts more -- but still not necessary. – Jeff Atwood Jun 6 '11 at 9:39
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    @jeff - TBH if I'm editing a post into shape I remove the end of post tag lines as well now. I still feel a bit icky about just editing a post to remove a simple "Thanks" though, it feels a bit overbearing somehow. That said, I'd be happier if they weren't there too. – Kev Jun 6 '11 at 10:05
  • My guilty pleasure - I never right at the top as I know it annoys people, but I sometimes slip in a thanks / similar phrased item as it just seems polite.... if it gets deleted or whatever, I have no complaints though. – William Hilsum Jun 6 '11 at 10:37
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    We can't live lives of total formality Yet that's exactly what automatically writing a posh greeting at the bottom of a message is. It's meaningless other than being a formality. – Lightness Races in Orbit Dec 23 '11 at 13:54
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    You are assuming it is not a sincere sentiment, that is just that - an assumption. – Luke Stanley Aug 22 '12 at 20:02
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    I find it funny how people on this page use “formal” and “informal” with in the reverse of their meaning. – Nicolas Barbulesco Nov 3 '13 at 18:25
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    For me saying Thanks in advance is the same as I don't wish any more contact/interaction with you then your answer which I won't mark as solution or upvote it. It's a phrase that means there will be no further dialog. – shiny-metal Dec 12 '14 at 21:01
  • Obviously you guys care more about your interpretations of these pleasantries than the OP's intentions – Andy Feb 16 '17 at 19:12

Wow. Is this a question or a statement? "No" answers don't really seem welcome here.

Either way, I think I understand the point of the question, but the whole tone seems snarky. If someone starts with "Hi" and ends with "Thanks" they aren't being fluffy and it isn't that cumbersome. They're just nice folks. Editing Hi/Thanks sounds rude to me.

As an example, a current question on Stack Overflow is Allocating Memory for NSString:

Hi, I am new to objective-c and a little curious about how I should be managing the memory for the local NSString variables shown below and the associated instance variables inside the class object. The code I have works fine, but just curious as to best practice.

[code snipped out]

Cheers gary

Is "Hi, " really that hard to read? The preview went up to "instance variables inside..." Removing "Hi, " would add "the" to the preview. Would that really help? I don't know gary but removing the "Hi" and possibly "Cheers gary" would buy a tiny bit of space but be like smacking him after he's contributed to the effort. Rude.

Chopping the question down to "How should I be managing..." makes more sense, but it still seems rude to edit gary out of gary's question.

From the faq: Be nice. Treat others with the same respect you'd want them to treat you.

On the other hand, cleaning up or removing txt msg gibberish is a readability improvement and I'd even go so far as to request a "stupid" warning to go along with the duplicate warning when a question is being written.

Another is more grating: Plz validate my validation expression :). The question itself is fine, but the title is annoying and impedes reading. There's a comment asking that he/she not use "Plz", but the title remains.

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    Quoting the FAQ to try and defend this stance is especially funny since the person who wrote the FAQ is also against this nonsense. – GEOCHET Nov 3 '09 at 14:51
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    Personally, I don't think the "Hi" is such a problem with that example. The "Hi, I am new to objective-c and a little curious about", on the other hand, is useless fluff. – André Paramés Jan 13 '11 at 13:39
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    I don't see how writing "Hi" or "Thanks" is treating me with respect. If anything, it's offensive that you're pretending you know I even exist. – Lightness Races in Orbit Jul 27 '11 at 20:43
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    @LightnessRacesinOrbit, it is respect even though you think it's not. And BTW I rather doubt anyone pretends you exist. In fact, you may not exist at all, so it is more to assume you exist. – JMCF125 Jul 13 '13 at 16:49
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    @JMCF125: It is not respectful even though you think it is. – Lightness Races in Orbit Jul 14 '13 at 11:48
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    @LightnessRacesinOrbit, it is not not respectful even though you think it is (although in a modal logic this would mean it is not necessary although possible it would be respectful). I know I do it for respect and politeness. – JMCF125 Jul 14 '13 at 12:45
  • @GEOCHET — What do you call “nonsense” ? The nice words, or the removing of them ? – Nicolas Barbulesco Nov 3 '13 at 19:17
  • I have also read, in the FAQ or some similar place : Civility is required at all times. – Nicolas Barbulesco Nov 3 '13 at 19:24
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    "What do you call “nonsense” ? The nice words, or the removing of them ?" -- If this a serious question, you need help. – GEOCHET Nov 3 '13 at 20:49
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    @NicolasBarbulesco: Civility, or empty formulas trying in vain to simulate it, and that way showing contempt for the local culture? – Deduplicator Mar 29 '15 at 23:52
  • @Deduplicator there is no difference between civility and an empty formula, because there is no way to tell whether someone actually cares, or is acting like they care. I think this is what Lightness was getting at, but I don't agree with her stance. Assume the best about someone until proven otherwise. I don't know what you mean about local culture. How can being civil show contempt? It is meant to be a lowest common denominator of behavior. Is there someone who wants to go lower than that? – user291305 Aug 2 '16 at 14:14
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    @nocomprende: If you try being civil according to the rules of one place, you might make a mortal insult according to another. Civility means understanding said local culture good enough to fit in, instead of simply reiterating the phrases you got used to from some other place; especially on SO most of them are seen as empty and rude. Assume the best, yes certainly - but don't withhold judgement to the detriment of the next guy and eventual comprehension. – Deduplicator Aug 2 '16 at 15:57

I avoid salutations and the like, however, I like to thank those who attempt to help me with a question. I keep those to comments only. I keep the questions and answers themselves impersonal, informational and professional.

I feel this strikes a good balance and I've hoped that other Stackers aren't bothered by it.

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    Ironically, the comment box itself tells us "avoid comments like +1 or thanks" when the cursor is resting before text entry. – Nij Feb 9 '17 at 18:22

We are people, not machines.

I personally don't start questions with a "Hi", but I usually end them with "Thanks".

Bottom line: don't remove greetings/thanks taglines.

  • Then why didn't you write the proper salutations and regards in your post here? Am I a machine, hasen? I mean ... you didn't even say "please"! – Lightness Races in Orbit Jul 27 '11 at 20:42
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    @Tomalak: it wasn't a question, thank you very much :) – sehe Aug 22 '11 at 21:20
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    @sehe: Politeness only required in questions? OK, copy that. :) – Lightness Races in Orbit Aug 22 '11 at 22:22
  • (BTW, bottom line: I'm still going to remove them... with extreme prejudice at that.) – Lightness Races in Orbit Aug 22 '11 at 22:23
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    @LightnessRacesinOrbit I kinda think you are a big bummer. While I can understand many of the answers on this page...you seem to be just about everywhere gettin snooty. Really, we could go in circles with everything, but in the end the real question is: "How much should I chill out when things aren't the way I like it?". I wouldn't (and haven't) flipped out when someone edited something like that out...but if I knew that they were sitting somewhere twisting their metaphorical mustache and laughing maniacally as they did it, I'd probably feel like I was being censored. – johnnietheblack May 7 '12 at 19:28
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    @LightnessRacesinOrbit "with extreme prejudice at that" This highlights whats wrong with your argument. Given "SO is neither a message board nor a forum; it is a knowledge resource", it appears there is no room for prejudice, extreme or otherwise. In fact, lets take the concept even further - custom usernames are unnecessary fluff, lets just stick to unique identifiers. I wonder how you would feel about being stripped of your custom username. – user1207217 Oct 19 '12 at 16:08
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    @user1207217: Let's not take the concept further, because that changes what we're talking about. Just because I don't think people should commute three times a week in a private jet doesn't mean I won't take a plane to the south of Spain once a year – Lightness Races in Orbit Oct 19 '12 at 21:01
  • @user1207217: Also, "with extreme prejudice" is a turn of phrase. It's not the basis of any argument. – Lightness Races in Orbit Oct 19 '12 at 21:02
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    @LightnessRacesinOrbit Of course, as I expected, you completely failed to address the point I made, which is that you only support de-fluffing to the extent that it suits you. It is useless fluff, let's not indulge it. Did I note your turn of phrase as being a basis for an argument, or a highlight of what is wrong? Your disposition; heavily biased, unwilling to consider other's viewpoints, must bash all opposing viewpoints. – user1207217 Oct 22 '12 at 14:01
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    "with extreme prejudice at that" This highlights whats wrong with your argument. / Did I note your turn of phrase as being a basis for an argument, or a highlight of what is wrong So clearly, yes, you did. And just because I feel strongly about my viewpoint doesn't mean I am unable or unwilling to hear other viewpoints, else I would not be participating in this discussion. Quite on the contrary - I simply haven't yet heard an opposing viewpoint that has swayed me. By all means continue to try, but I will not apologise for being "biased" by my own viewpoint... – Lightness Races in Orbit Oct 22 '12 at 15:32
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    @LightnessRacesinOrbit — Here is another difference between people and machines. For people, it is normal to be inconsistent. – Nicolas Barbulesco Nov 3 '13 at 18:55
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    I think it's better to thank people for their effort by marking an answer as a solution or at least upvote their answers then just say "thanks" at the and and it is the last thing that you've heard from someone. – shiny-metal Dec 12 '14 at 21:04

Flogging a dead donkey here, but anyway...

For the die-hard thankers, I have a question:

Who are you saying thank you to, and what are you saying thank your for?

  • Thank you for having read this far?

  • Thank you for the answer which you may-or-may not decide to post and which may-or-may not be useful, and which I may actually end up down-voting or even flagging?

I can fully understand and support comments saying thank you on helpful answers, but pre-emptive thank-yous on questions is just... nonsensical.

To all those who say we are unfeeling robots - "Please" IS allowed, and makes sense (that's my stance, in any case).

Another remark - it seems to me that a deeper issue in a lot of reactions here isn't so much about Hi and thanks, but "who has dared to edit my question?!" People need to drop that sense of personal ownership.

Your question, and the answers, 'belong' to the community, and are there for everyone.

All that said, I think we're fighting a losing battle...

  • I think this needs to be stated in the FAQ. – John Saunders Sep 17 '10 at 15:02
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    I say thank you to be polite that someone took the time to read my question. – David Thielen Aug 14 '11 at 0:51
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    The politenes is senseless at all as you take it. For other people it is not. We are different. But you can't recognize it, just because being polite is senseless to you. – Gangnus Feb 8 '12 at 8:35
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    @DavidThielen By doing this, you are increasing the amount of time it takes to read the question. It's all fine and dandy to be a well mannered person, but civilities that inconvenience others are no civilities at all. – Asad Saeeduddin Mar 1 '13 at 19:16
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    @Asad Does this mean we all must write in the way you prefer? What about those who prefer a thank you at the end? Is your inconvenience reading two whole additional words more important? – David Thielen Mar 4 '13 at 18:31
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    @DavidThielen No, we must all write in the way most people prefer. See the top answer. Those people who expect a thank you at the end are here for the wrong reason. The point of answering questions on SO isn't to accumulate the gratitude of anonymous internet users, it is to make SO a better repository of knowledge for those who visit it in the future. – Asad Saeeduddin Mar 4 '13 at 18:32
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    @Asad I'll agree that this should go the way the majority prefers. However the answer above is one person's opinion. I've yet to see this put to a vote of the users here. I'm guessing if it was put to a vote a majority would be fine with allowing a thank you. Since we agree, how about allowing both ways until we do get a measure of what most people prefer? – David Thielen Mar 5 '13 at 14:22
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    When asking a query I often write/want to write "thanks for reading". I honestly appreciate and am grateful for someone taking the time to read my query. If they can go on to answer in addittion, I'll thank them for that also. – Paul Aug 1 '13 at 8:35

Since I am not a robot, I enjoy being greeted and thanked, as is the custom in human societies. It also provides a tiny opportunity to express myself, which I relish. Chastising people for using common courtesy is when you know your website (and personality) has jumped the shark.

The effort to "purify" Stack Overflow will eventually lead to its undoing. Imagine how easy it will be to be a nuisance when all you have to do to make trouble is say "Hello"!

EDIT: I'd also like to add that this will create chaos, as every single new user will ask every single time why their salutation/greetings keep getting deleted. Then they'll be flooded with links to this question by the nerd patrol. A full 5-10% of all Stack Overflow content will be about the salutations/greetings. Why? Because it is completely normal and natural in human communication to use these constructs, so it's intuitive that they should appear when you type them.

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    It doesn't make trouble. We just edit it out. – GEOCHET Aug 26 '09 at 22:31
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    Same thing for your assertion of impending doom. We edits this fluff out now, and we have had minimal problems with people complaining. – GEOCHET Aug 26 '09 at 22:31
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    "Chastising people for using common courtesy" this is a misconception that many people seem to have. Edits are not reprimands! They're people trying to help you and the community, by writing better answers. You can disagree that removing greetings makes for better answers, but regarding such edits as personal attacks is misguided. – André Paramés Jan 13 '11 at 13:43
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    Being greeted and thanked is the custom in human conversation, but SO questions are not conversations. Do you see pleasantries in a dictionary? In an encyclopedia? No. – Lightness Races in Orbit Jul 27 '11 at 20:45
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    @André Paramés: it really doesn't matter if it's a misconception. If many people have it, then it's a true thing to say about community feelings.@GEOCHET – Chris McCall Jul 28 '11 at 20:39
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    @GEOCHET, it only takes me 2 clicks to rollback the changes. – user156914 Jul 30 '11 at 13:45

Personally, I have been pretty active lately removing email like salutations and sigs. I think it just adds noise, and distracts from the content, both for questions and answers.

I find sigs particularly annoying, imagine a world where you double sign your emails.


Dear Murray,

Time for a band meeting


It looks kind of silly

  • And now you've signed this post 4 times. Shame on you. – random Aug 27 '09 at 14:39
  • @random removed 2 of them – waffles Aug 27 '09 at 21:49
  • You should have signed it with Jermaine instead of Brett two times. Why does Brett always get to sign it two times? – Reno Jun 6 '11 at 9:36
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    +1 for FOTC reference :) – Alex Coplan Dec 15 '11 at 1:34

As a software developer with an interest in database integrity and general order, it's offensive to me when a field entitled "question" contains arbitrary conversational fluff. "Thank you" is not a question.

It's like on Facebook when people see, say, the ICQ # profile field and instead of writing their ICQ number like 123456, write (123456 (but I don't really use it any more!!1)) and of course then the software tries to convert that field to a link icq:123456+(but+I+don't+really+use+it+any+more!!1 for display. The conversational fluff could be automatically filtered, sure, but it shouldn't have to be: the ICQ # field is for an ICQ number and nothing else.

On top of the practical reasons given by others, for me this is enough.

SO is neither a message board nor a forum; it is a knowledge resource. Thanks and greetings are simply inappropriate.

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    You reason backwards. Your ICQ example perfectly illustrates how humans are superior to machines and how badly machines handle human input. – Nicolas Barbulesco Nov 3 '13 at 19:05
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    @NicolasBarbulesco: It's fun to blame the machines, but I don't see any reason why we can't take a bit of responsibility. If you provide mangled input I don't know what else you can expect. – Lightness Races in Orbit Nov 3 '13 at 19:12

Yes. These should be removed for multiple reasons.

  • Any fluff on the top of the post ends up consuming space in the preview on the questions list.
  • The username is displayed with the avatar directly below the post.
  • 'Thanks' or 'plz help me' or any other closing statement is just useless and detracts from the content of the post.

It should be noted that currently, we have been asked to not edit the post for these reasons alone.


But these posts typically have multiple other reasons to edit anyway so this is almost never a problem.

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    I agree, however I only edit the post if I'm also making other changes (fixing spelling, grammar, etc). – Thomas Owens Jul 6 '09 at 21:57
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    i agree totally, and i strongly disagree with what jeff said about small edits in the blog post you linked to. small edits improve the site. it is a flaw in the system that users lose the ability to gain rep after 6 edits. i don't think i should change my behavior (which improves the site) to accommodate a design flaw. but that's just my opinion... – Kip Jul 7 '09 at 1:53
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    Hey, Rich B linked to Jeff Atwood quoting me! I'M FAMOUS!!! – mmyers Jul 7 '09 at 2:29
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    "But these posts typically have multiple other reasons to edit anyway so this is almost never a problem." -- that is the key takeaway. – Jeff Atwood Jul 7 '09 at 3:37
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    How does this sounds: "...That happened to me once. I read this question that was about 40 line long, and I thought I had the answer on the tip of my tongue. I was about to type the answer to be the fastest gun ... but then I saw the last line: "Thanks" .. oh my god, that was so distracting!. When I finally reach the input box, I forgot what the answer was.. I even forgot what the question was... Please remove the Hi/Thank they distract me". It sounds bad to me. – OscarRyz Aug 27 '09 at 1:28
  • @Oscar: "How does this sounds", it sounds like someone needs to spend more time in their E@SL classes. – GEOCHET Aug 27 '09 at 11:54
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    @Richb : :) :) Yeap, or that "someone" ( me ) should have taken classes im first place and not learn it ( the language ) empirically as I do ( did ) :P . Too sad comments can't be edited. I really like when you edit my posts and appreciate it, except of course when you just remove "Hi" and "Thanks" ( or change substantially the original question which happens seldom [ or seldom happens? Or happens seldomly :-? ] ) – OscarRyz Aug 28 '09 at 1:05

Keep this conversational human fluff out of our semantic data inputs!

Stack Overflow questions are questions, not message board posts or chat room introductions.

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    1 nomination for the best picture. – Roman C Oct 17 '15 at 18:09
  • Another +1 for backing the funny picture with the Helsignin Sanoma newspaper. I miss Finland. – JBH Jul 20 at 21:36

I would just like to add a big LOL at having noticed today that Alf, long berated at least by myself for stubbornly refusing to stop writing "Cheers and hth" at the end of all of his answers and comments, has changed his name to incorporate it.

This is a prime example of writing pleasantries as boilerplate, rather than through any conscious politeness. Along with knee-jerk "thanks" at the end of questions, it's actually offensive that you think this is being polite to me. Might as well incorporate "thanks" in the SO site template so that you don't even have to write it at all.

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    Yeah, I thought that was pretty clever ;-) – Shog9 Mar 4 '12 at 18:38
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    @Shog9: I think it's just obnoxious! Rather than heeding repeated edits and complaints, he's put up a forcefield around his stubbornness >.< I almost wish I were a thanksrobot so that I could have thought of it first – Lightness Races in Orbit Mar 4 '12 at 18:40
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    I was with you right until you said that it was offensive to be polite. Whether it's thoughtful or not, it's still politeness. Being offended by that is a personal choice. They are not communicating something that is inherently offensive; you're looking at their pleasantries and deciding that they offend your sensibilities. So I have little sympathy for someone who takes offense at someone's innocent commentary and eccentricities. – Nicol Bolas Mar 5 '12 at 5:05
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    So I have little sympathy for someone who takes offense at someone's innocent commentary and eccentricities. Seriously...attitudes like this bring me down. – johnnietheblack May 7 '12 at 19:32
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    @Nicol: So something is only offensive if you, Nicol, would be offended by it? Regardless, the offense is that these are not pleasantries, but an attempt to fake pleasantries. I'd honestly rather he not bother at all. – Lightness Races in Orbit Dec 27 '13 at 20:48
  • Traditionally, HTH is intended to be semi-offensive, as in "You can't do that. HTH." and similar. – Toby Speight May 30 '17 at 17:14
  • @TobySpeight: What, like this? ;) – Lightness Races in Orbit May 30 '17 at 17:23

I tend to do a lot of communication throughout the day, whether it's phone calls, emails, or in-person appointments. Obviously, there's lots of "Good afternoons" and "buh-byes" in all that. Plus, I grew up on dial-up BBS's and Usenet, where those were equally common.

To me, the whole notion of not having a salutation or greeting is just weird, foreign, and borderline rude. Editing out someone's attempt at being polite is even more absurd.

This is not Wikipedia, where there is only one true answer for a particular topic or question. There are a lot of people who make the site happen, and taking away their attempts at personalizing the site and their responses seem just seems pedantic.

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    "This is not Wikipedia" - it's not USENET or a BBS either. The site signs your name for you, and greetings take up valuable screen real estate. – Shog9 Aug 27 '09 at 2:06
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    signatures and salutations are just noise here, and will be removed. – Jeff Atwood Aug 27 '09 at 2:24
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    ... but... but... it's friendly and polite noise! Point taken. Besides, I think removing superflous crap is well worth making the author look better by fixing spleling errors. – Alex Papadimoulis Aug 27 '09 at 3:00
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    @Alex: There's nothing polite about it. What meaning does "hi" or "thanks" hold when you don't even know that I exist? Pretending to be personal when in fact you are broadcasting to unknown masses is offensive. – Lightness Races in Orbit Jul 27 '11 at 20:44
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    @Jeff Atwood: I will rollback the changes as I always do if you remove my greetings or thanks (I know you can delete my account). – user156914 Jul 30 '11 at 13:32
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    @caveman a single "thanks." in questions is not that big a deal. – Jeff Atwood Jul 30 '11 at 19:07

I find posts that start with "So, ..." to be far more annoying.

The use of "So" to start a sentence in English away from the Stack Exchange network has been discussed at Sentences beginning with "so"?

On the Stack Exchange network it appears to be just a little more chit chat before getting to the point and so should be removed.

  • but, only four characters in the preview. Unless one of them is a newline, it's quite easy to ignore. – John Dvorak Dec 27 '13 at 19:03
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    There's also the "Hi I have a question about this code..." posts. Quite annoying as well. – Jamal Dec 27 '13 at 19:21
  • @Jamal: Mate, I think you're on the wrong site... – The Blue Dog Dec 27 '13 at 19:46
  • @PeteR: I'm not on MSO right now? – Jamal Dec 27 '13 at 19:48
  • @Jamal: Yes, you are indeed. I was trying too hard (and failing miserably) to be hideously over-cynical. – The Blue Dog Dec 27 '13 at 19:52
  • @PeteR: So I should've played along as well? So looks like I should've. So slow, I am... – Jamal Dec 27 '13 at 19:54

I agree that salutations and signatures are a waste of screen real estate, and I edit them out generally as a rule.

I personally find reading "thanks/really appreciate/etc" to be insulting when it comes from users with an accept rate of less than 75%. If the user has less than 20 questions logged, I understand - but the ones with 100+ I have a hard time believing.

"Hi" is useless, as I can't really utter it back, nor can I ask "what's going on?", etc., which would similarly be out of place. It should be edited out as if you were reformatting code - if you are already working there, take it out, otherwise leave it be.

"Thanks" on the other hand, is acceptable, as it expresses gratitude for time spent on my issues, for considering me and trying to help me fix my problem.

  • I like this approach. – Trilarion Jan 13 '15 at 8:37

I know this was posted long ago, but I was pointed to this discussion today by someone on SO. I included the words "Thank you so much in advance" at the very end of my question post. About 5 minutes later I noticed it was edited and (along with changes to the title and the tags) my "thank you" at the bottom was removed. I rolled back the edit and told the person I didn't know why he would remove a "thank you" since I was just trying to be polite. And he said that SO was "not a discussion site, but a Q&A." I responded with the following post:

Wasn't aware "Thank you so much in advance" caused so much "clutter" in the question. Personally, when I read these answers on here, or on other sites yes, I'm looking for answer y to my question x, but I don't think the polite "please" and "thank you" detract from that question and/or answer. I was raised to have good manners and I respect those who exhibit those manners, even when it comes to black and white Q&A sites like SO. Now you're probably going to flag this post or call me out for this comment being a "discussion" not a strict "Q&A" but I felt this needed to be said.

Personally, just like the above post states, I feel like a simple greeting or a "thank you" at the end doesn't detract from the answer/question at all, nor does it add "clutter." I haven't read each of the posts here on this page, but I like how one person said they feel "refreshed" to see polite manners exhibited. I feel the same way. If I'm reading a post and the person gives an answer and says something like "hope this helps" or something to that effect at the end, it gives me the feeling that they actually care if I get the right answer. If I, on the other hand, read a post and it gives me an answer and that's it, just a blunt, quick answer, it can sometimes come off as snobby.

I don't mean to be judgmental, by any means. Each individual has a "tone" when they speak. This tone even comes out when someone writes, types, etc., any form of communication, believe it or not, your tone comes out.

I know I'm beginning to ramble a bit, but in conclusion, I believe when someone exhibits polite manners in their posts, in their talk, whatever form of communication they may be using, that, to me, gives off a positive tone. And if I were given the option of reading two posts, where both posts contained the same info, except one used these manners mentioned above, I'd prefer to read the post that exhibits a positive attitude, the post that says its "pleases" and "thank yous", the post where I feel the person is actually putting effort into helping me out (which is what SO is for)--I'd prefer that post over the other any day.

Some people have taken this argument too far and are being sarcastic about what we mean. I'm not saying that I support the idea of saying "Hey my name is X and I have 3 children and wouldn't you know it little Billy got into the dog food again today" and then go on with the question--that's ridiculous.

Plain and simple: I don't think a post should be edited for the sole purpose of removing a polite greeting or "thank you."

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    A few points: 1) Your tone comes through just fine without the thanks. You're obviously both polite and intelligent. 2) Your "plain and simple" part is already generally accepted (and John Saunders did not merely remove the thank-you). 3) It is my general practice to remove any greeting longer than "Hi", but to leave any coherent "thank you"; this has not changed in quite some time, as you can see from the link in Geoffrey Chetwood's answer. 4) Those with editing privileges are asked to respect the original author, so if this happens and you revert it, people will most likely leave it alone. – mmyers Jan 13 '11 at 22:14
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    @Michael Myers - First of all, thank you for the complement. Also, I do realize John didn't solely edit to remove the "thank you," and I did acknowledge that and thanked him for pointing out the edits that did need to be made. I'm glad that most respect the author's freedom to throw in a "thank you" at the end. I don't mean to come off as angry by the above post (nor by my comments to John) I was just thrown off because I didn't see the advantage of taking out the "thank you," especially being as I was raised to always use my "yes ma'ams," "no sirs," "pleases," and "thank yous." – AmbiguousX Jan 13 '11 at 22:24
  • But that's just my personal preference on it. John pointed me to this question and so even though this discussion appeared to have been sedentary for some time, I thought I'd go ahead and throw my two cents into the conversation regardless. – AmbiguousX Jan 13 '11 at 22:26
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    Relax, and just learn from the edits (and the pointers John gave you to this question before your 2nd comment). – Arjan Jan 13 '11 at 23:04
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    It has been, and will continue to be, my practice to remove all greetings and thanks. You are assumed to have said "hi" when you posted the question. You can best "thank" people who respond to your question by upvoting their answers. The rest is noise. – John Saunders Jan 14 '11 at 1:46
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    @John (and @Arjan), I apologize for overreacting on this issue, and I apologize if I made you upset with any of my comments. I honestly didn't mean anything by it except to just speak my piece. Thank you, though, for pointing me to this conversation, and thank you for your edits. I hope you have a fantastic day. – AmbiguousX Jan 14 '11 at 15:02
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    @Ambig: I'm not upset at all. I pointed you to meta, and you came. That was good. I hope to see you around. – John Saunders Jan 14 '11 at 19:39
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    "When in rome do as the romans", otherwise don't take part! – Ian Ringrose Jun 6 '11 at 12:00

The signature is fine. Please don't edit the question if that's the only thing you are going to 'clarify' - see Jeff's post on The Great Edit Wars for his suggestion on what to do when the author clearly prefers one representation of the question above the others.

In that post, Jeff said in a now deleted comment:

"But I would draw the line at editing solely to remove salutations, unless they’re unusually excessive."

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    Since when did somebody's name form an integral part of a post that isn't already served by the avatar block bottom right of every non-wiki post? – random Nov 3 '09 at 3:25
  • Conversely, on the other side of the edit wars coin, if someone removes my signature I don't edit the question and answer just to put it back in. – Adam Davis Nov 3 '09 at 3:26
  • Since every post has the opportunity to become wiki, and I'm not notified when that occurs, I simply tag every post assuming that eventually, through eons of time, everything will become wiki. – Adam Davis Nov 3 '09 at 3:27
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    @George - thanks for the awesome edit! You've clarified my answer significantly. – Adam Davis Nov 3 '09 at 3:34
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    @adam: you already have a signature, bottom right of your answer. No need to repeat it. – perbert Nov 3 '09 at 3:55
  • I have the majority of my reasoning in more detail here: meta.stackexchange.com/questions/5029/… – Adam Davis Nov 3 '09 at 4:02
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    You shouldn't be putting the signature and tagline in to begin with either. Since you are obviously aware of this, please stop this behavior in the future. – GEOCHET Nov 3 '09 at 14:40
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    And yet, thus far, no one has given me a reason why I should stop that outweighs my reasons for doing so. It's not an issue of awareness. Either I don't fully understand your arguments, or you don't fully understand mine. Alternately it's subjective, and we each simply lie on two different sides of the line, and can only agree to disagree. – Adam Davis Nov 3 '09 at 15:10
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    I've seen posts where Jeff has completely contradicted his own quote, i.e. just removed a "Hi" from the first line of a question. – Alex Angas Feb 10 '10 at 22:39
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    @Pollyanna: if it's a community wiki, it's not your Question or Answer anymore. Why sign it? – André Paramés Jan 13 '11 at 13:47
  • If we're going to start doing everything that Jeff tells us to, then we're really in trouble. Have you seen how many overwhelmingly popular feature requests have been summarily declined without comment? – Lightness Races in Orbit Aug 22 '11 at 22:30
  • @Tomalak Meh. Pick and choose your battles. – Adam Davis Aug 23 '11 at 2:19

Well, I'm guilty (if guilty is the right word) of putting a 'Thanks', or a 'Thanks for any help' line to sign off on a question in some cases.

I have no problem if it gets edited out by somebody though. Now that I have seen this thread, I will be more conscious of not doing it.

I do know about the 'No tag line / signature' thing, and I agree with that. I guess I didn't consider that a 'Thanks' was a tag line.

It has just been something I never gave any thought to, much like signing off an email 'Regards', etc. I just viewed it as a bit of courtesy. After all, I am asking for some help.

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    no, you're not asking a person for help. You're asking a community. What may seem polite when speaking person to person may very well be excessive in this case. As I sometimes put it, these are Q&A sites - we're not having a nice conversation. – John Saunders Aug 6 '10 at 1:44
  • @John : Agreed, that's a fair point. – Andy Aug 6 '10 at 15:33

Let me start by saying that I find salutations, sigs, etc. extremely annoying. They set my teeth on edge and tend to colour my view of the post they enclose.

Having said that, I do not believe there is any justification for editing Stack Overflow answers (note answers, not questions) that contain these entities. Correct spelling (I'm always grateful for that), but leave it at that. Unlike a question, an answer is an expression of personal belief, knowledge and attitude, and should not be messed with.

In my mind, a Hi at the beginning of the post might not be a good thing, but isn't the end of the world. But if a user starts out their post with something like:

Hey, this is my first time posting at Stack Exchange, so here goes...

I'll likely edit that line out entirely.

A thanks at the bottom should always be allowed as well.

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    The consensus appears to be against you. Certainly, I'll continue removing, "Hi", "Thanks", "Any help?", etc. – John Saunders Mar 9 '11 at 19:21
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    Even a simple "Hi" is a waste of space, especially in the tooltip where newlines are preserved and that single word taks two lines. – Arjan Apr 5 '11 at 7:26
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    If a thanks at the bottom should always be allowed, why don't we include it automatically at the end of questions, in the site's template? Then you wouldn't have to bother writing it, and you've still put just as much heart and thought into personally displaying gratitude as you would have otherwise. – Lightness Races in Orbit Aug 22 '11 at 22:28

While I completely understand the point of cleaning up a question so that the meat of the question becomes clearer and quicker to the point, it's utterly ridiculous for either the asker or the editor to go beyond a simple, quick edit.

When rollback wars begin, everybody suffers, and the whole thing turns into a big pissing match. Meanwhile, people like me who are able to read past things like "Hello" and "Thank you" now have to deal with two people's argument about the whole ordeal.

In the worst case scenario, the question gets voted out of existence simply because of some person's desire to be polite.


That means that everybody else doesn't get to read and learn from the question...which, in my mind is 10x worse than having to deal with a simple salutation.


Alright, make a change if it bothers you...but chill the hell out after that. Don't piss on a question if things don't go your way. And, certainly don't get all pouty about it...someone's just trying to be nice.

And, if you ask a question and someone edits out your salutation...deal with it, just the same. Be a big boy/girl and worry about getting the answer to your question, instead of turning yourself into a martyr.

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    I haven't experienced these edit wars. Are they real? – Shep May 7 '12 at 20:17
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    @she - yes.​​​​​​​ – Lix May 7 '12 at 20:22
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    You are correct - this shouldn't happen. If you see it, flag for a moderator... And then walk away. See also: blog.stackoverflow.com/2009/04/in-defense-of-editing – Shog9 May 7 '12 at 20:23
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    How about leaving the decision of how an editor spends their time to the editor? – GEOCHET May 9 '12 at 21:55
  • @Shep Totally happens all the time. I'm not even ragin' about something that happened to me...recently I found a question that asked something that was EXACTLY what I was wondering, but some dude got all ansy cuz of a "thank you" and got his buddies to vote out the question entirely. So, I was the one that suffered. – johnnietheblack May 11 '12 at 19:12
  • @GEOCHET Fair enough, and I agree. However, I'm not concerned with inconveniencing the editor...that's not my point. I'm concerned with people like me who just want to read the question and the answers. It's not the editor's right to throw any obstacle in my way. – johnnietheblack May 11 '12 at 19:15

In posts on blog comments, blog posts, messageboards, and the like I very rarely start with a salutation, unless I'm addressing only one person. I do, though, always always end with a signature. My posts end with TRiG followed by, if the board supports it, a smiley.

Except on the StackExchange sites, where I just don't do that. I'm not entirely sure why not: it just felt wrong here. On English Language and Usage, where I'm a bit more chatty, I sometimes have to remind myself to omit the signature.

I'm going to sign this post, though.


  • Also, stackoverflow.com/faq#signatures – XTL May 8 '12 at 7:39
  • @PopularDemand. I deleted that comment now. I'm absolutely certain I remember Jeff Atwood saying that signatures should be removed only when other editing is also being done (and that's the standard I hold to myself), but I can't find it now. Perhaps I'm mixing it up with something he said about editing out "thanks". Or perhaps he changed his mind. shrug – TRiG is Timothy Richard Green Sep 10 '12 at 17:30
  • Actually, you deleted that comment before I even finished writing my comment, so when I submitted mine, I looked like a crazy person responding to nothing. As such, I deleted my comment right after I posted it. I'm surprised you even got notified of it. – Pops Sep 10 '12 at 18:55
  • @PopularDemand. Not only did I get notified of it, I got to read it. The full thing, here, not just the extract in the global inbox. I was being fast, obviously. – TRiG is Timothy Richard Green Sep 10 '12 at 19:39
  • Wow. Way to be on top of your Stack Exchange activity, sir. I remember seeing something like that too, though I'm not sure it was said by Jeff (and he's retired anyways, so...). I guess I'll post an abbreviated version of my original comment now that we're talking about it again: "it may be wrong to edit just to remove a sig, but rolling such an edit back is unquestionably worse (except possibly here where it's being done jokingly)" – Pops Sep 10 '12 at 19:53
  • @PopularDemand. I'm not usually a fast responder. I just happened to see it at the right time. – TRiG is Timothy Richard Green Sep 10 '12 at 20:09
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  • -1 for signing your post, the rest was plusworthy – PolyGeo Feb 7 '16 at 1:56

I agree that "these items ['Hi', 'thanks', taglines, and salutations should] be removed during the editing of the post by an editor", and I would also remove the word 'please'.

To me, all are examples of the chit-chat that the Tour of every site says does not belong:

This site is all about getting answers. It's not a discussion forum. There's no chit-chat.

If the edit will involve one word only, then I think the need for performing it should be carefully considered, but normally there are a number of improvements that can be made to any question.

To some it may seem impolite to remove attempts to inject social aspects into their questions and answers, and some even suggest that it contravenes being nice, but the norm for SE communities is to value the volunteered time of their users, and the reading time of their visitors. SE is not intended to be a social network, and so I think the polite thing to do here is to respect that we wish to simply:

Ask questions, get answers, no distractions

A Meta Stack Overflow Q&A that resonates with me is No Thanks, Damn It!

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