980

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:

--User

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

  • 211
    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
  • 10
    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
  • 24
    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
  • 16
    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
  • 11
    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
  • 27
    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
  • 7
    For people who do insist on explicitly giving verbal gratitude, writing thank you in a comment under an answer is preferable to a undirected thank you in a question that hundreds of thousands of people will read. Suppose that the thank you message in a question distracts each reader for an average of 0.5 seconds and suppose the answer has 100,000 views. 100,000 * 0.5s = 14 hours. So 14 hours have been spent on people reading a thank you message for something they didn't do. – Garrett Oct 13 '14 at 21:14
  • 12
    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
  • 3
    Possible duplicate of Are taglines & signatures disallowed? – Robert Longson Mar 15 at 8:39
  • 2
    Would be so great to have these things automatically removed. Just bloats up questions. – stats0007 Jun 18 at 21:55

35 Answers 35

902

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 search engines 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.

  • 223
    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
  • 19
    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
  • @The_Sympathizer I think the burden would be on proving the greetings served some tangible benefit. You use the term "significantly", but obviously it's not a boolean situation where after a certain number of characters it becomes significant. – Gregory Currie Oct 30 at 7:57
581

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
hello|
hey(?![a-z])|
dear|
greetings|
hai|
guys|
howdy|
h(i|e)ya|
hola
)
.*?               # 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.

  • 3
    Found another one: G'day *8') – Mark Booth Jun 21 at 14:28
284

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.)

138

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.

124

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.

118

I personally don't think that salutations and taglines alone justify an edit to removed them from a post. If the question or answer has other reasons to justify an edit, clean them up while you're in there. 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 (e.g., salutations and taglines). So in the ideal world, they aren't there to begin with. If they are there, I still probably wouldn't edit them just to remove the clutter.

77

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.

  • 122
    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
  • 1
    @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
  • 3
    I just thought it was funny the way it voted out. People are strange creatures. – toast Jul 6 '09 at 23:39
  • 13
    But SO questions are not about interacting with your peers. They are questions. This site is a knowledge resource, not a chat. – Lightness Races with Monica Jul 27 '11 at 20:41
  • 2
    @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
  • 4
    @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
56

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.

Update:

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.

52

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.

47

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.

35

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...

34

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.

30

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.

27

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.

Eg:

Dear Murray,

Time for a band meeting

Cheers
Brett 
                                 Brett

It looks kind of silly

23

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.

  • 2
    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
  • 4
    @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 with Monica Nov 3 '13 at 19:12
21

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

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

20

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.

http://blog.stackoverflow.com/2009/03/the-great-edit-wars/#comment-15830

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

  • 7
    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
  • 6
    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
  • 9
    "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
  • 4
    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
  • 2
    @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
17

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.

  • 11
    Yeah, I thought that was pretty clever ;-) – Shog9 Mar 4 '12 at 18:38
  • 1
    @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 with Monica Mar 4 '12 at 18:40
  • 13
    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
  • 2
    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
12

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.

12

"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.

12

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."

  • 10
    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
  • 1
    @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
  • 4
    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
12

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.

11

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.

  • 23
    "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
  • 32
    signatures and salutations are just noise here, and will be removed. – Jeff Atwood Aug 27 '09 at 2:24
10

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."

9

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.

  • 19
    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
9

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.

Cool.

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.

SHORT ANSWER?

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.

  • 2
    I haven't experienced these edit wars. Are they real? – Shep May 7 '12 at 20:17
  • 5
    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
  • 1
    @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
8

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.

8

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.

  • 9
    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 with Monica Aug 22 '11 at 22:28
8

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.

TRiG.

5

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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