We are currently working on our "new users experience". As a part of that, we have stated that we want to be more welcoming to new users and try to guide them during their first steps on the site. this involves both being polite and gentle when their first post has quality issues, but also telling new users who have a good first question exactly that: that their question is a good first question.

In light of this, I was wondering if we could revisit our stance on having answers focused purely on answering the question and not having anything beyond things related to the answer. I'm not saying "allow answers that provide no meaningful solution to the asker's problem", but rather "if someone asks a good first question and you have an answer to that question, it's okay to make a remark about the quality of their question in the answer". This is something which is done on a number of newer communities like Puzzling, Worldbuilding, PPCG and likely others as well. It does not detract anything from the quality of the answer, but it can encourage new users with good questions to stick around.

You're probably wondering "why not place this in a comment?", and there is a case to be made for putting this in comments. However, recently the comment section has been rebranded to a "suggest improvements" section, which is a scope where "hey, welcome and good question" does not quite fit into. The improvements section can definitely be used for feedback on questions with quality issues, but I don't think it's quite as good a fit for "hey, good job" comments, especially for new users.

Finally, while this is also what upvotes are meant for, upvotes are somewhat more obscure for new users. Fluff greetings in the style of "Welcome and good job on making a good first question" convey the same message, but are much clearer for new users.

I'm hoping to start a discussion on this topic. Having words of encouragement when you make a good first impression can definitely encourage users to stick around and continue to use the site. It's good to have a site where you can get answers to a wide range of programming questions, but we should take care to remain welcoming to new users.

  • 5
    I regularly see Puzzling, Worldbuilding, PPCG questions that pop up in HNQ sidebar but can't recall ever seeing greetings in answers over there, mind giving examples where it happened? If you additionally can provide references from respective per-site-meta about endorsing such practices, it would be absolutely great
    – gnat
    Aug 24, 2018 at 10:48
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    This goes round and round. Why is it necessary to have rules and/or guidelines? If someone wishes to add a small amount of 'welcoming' text, fine. If someone else just wants to ask for something reasonable, eg 'Format your code so that it's readable', then that should be fine too. It's not rude to be succinct, especially on tech sites like SO. Aug 24, 2018 at 10:49
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    I cannot stand "fluff". Just answer the question. When I have to read a statement of encouragement, my eyes rolls in the back of my eyes from boredom, I then typically just remove it for the user.
    – Ramhound
    Aug 24, 2018 at 12:08
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    Worldbuilding mod here. I'm not aware of this happening on a large scale. It's true that an answer might start with "This is a good question", but only if that sentence continues on to something like ". . . because the industrialization of urban regions was dependent not just on road access, but on local waterways as well". In other words, the sentence is an introduction to the answer that gives you one of the main points of the answer, and only secondarily provides positive reinforcement.
    – HDE 226868
    Aug 24, 2018 at 13:42

1 Answer 1


if someone asks a good first question and you have an answer to that question, it's okay to make a remark about the quality of their question in the answer


Such information is meaningful to precisely one person: the asker of the question. And even to them, it stops being meaningful with time.

We're trying to create knowledge-bases of information. And such statements are not what you would fine in an actual knowledge-base of information. I'm sure you've never cracked open a book and seen "this is a really good chapter" at the start of a chapter. So too should you not see such things here.

  • Sigh... Thought as much. I'd delete this question since the downvotes hurt my rep, but there's probably some rule against that. I knew I should have asked it on the SO meta so my rep wasn't damaged
    – Nzall
    Aug 24, 2018 at 16:09
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    Stop worrying about MSE rep. It's not as if it has any value.
    – Bart
    Aug 24, 2018 at 18:14
  • @Nzall - Your question would have been out of scope at the SO meta and would have been received worst then it already has.
    – Ramhound
    Aug 25, 2018 at 6:21

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