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?
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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?
I've always been against the greetings and salutations (along with other extraneous clutter) in questions for a number of reasons:
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.
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.
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.
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 …
I've also removed most of the salutations (per above) across the network from existing posts.
G'day*8') Jun 21, 2019 at 14:28
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.)
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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]
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.
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.
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.
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.
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...
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 Cheers Brett Brett
It looks kind of silly
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.
Yes. These should be removed for multiple reasons.
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.
Keep this conversational human fluff out of our semantic data inputs!
(image sourced from @mikko on Twitter)
Stack Overflow questions are questions, not message board posts or chat room introductions.
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."
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.
"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 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.
So I have little sympathy for someone who takes offense at someone's innocent commentary and eccentricities.Seriously...attitudes like this bring me down. May 7, 2012 at 19:32
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.
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.
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.
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."
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.
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.
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 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.
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!
thank youstuck 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.
thank youin 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.
thank youtagline. Stack Exchange is a site for disseminating information. Notice that articles in academic journals don't end with