There's been much ado over the last 5 years or so about the SE network being "unwelcoming".
From the summer of love to the code of conduct, from the welcome wagon to the instantaneous delisting of IPS from the HNQ because of a complaint on Twitter, there's been an enormous and ongoing effort from Stack Exchange to make the site more welcoming.
And there's been an equally enormous amount of drama on MSE (and other Metas) about these efforts.
Commentary on comments
Most recently, Stack Exchange has focused on comments as the principal source of the perceived unwelcoming atmosphere.
Net-net, more than 95% of all comments are considered totally fine. Less than 5% are considered "unwelcoming", and a negligible number are considered "abusive"¹. There is a high-level of inter-user agreement on these ratings. Agreement is unaffected, mostly, by reputation.
Welcome, one and all
Which makes me wonder: is there a problem to be solved here in the first place? Is Stack Exchange, despite all the drama, brouhaha, and blog posts, not actually unwelcoming after all?
Or maybe the recent focus on comments was the wrong target to aim for? If that's the case, we'd have to look somewhere else. Are we going to analyze, say, downvotes, closevotes², flags, next?
I have my own views on these matters, but I'd like to hear yours. I'd particularly like answers representing different classes of users, in particular from SE employees, from CMs, from non-CM mods, and from regular users (both high-rep and new).
¹ The linked blog presents these numbers with a lot more clarity, context, and detail. But for the sake of this MSE post, I needed to condense the results into a single number. I did that by taking the average rating weighted by the number of raters, to approximate the score the comments would get if you plucked a random guy off the street and didn't know if he were an SE employee, a moderator, a high-rep user, a new user, someone who had never heard of SE before, etc.
² Actually, SO did run an experiment aimed at analyzing closures, Project Reduplication of Deduplication. But while the meta community saw this as a refreshing breath of air on investing in AI-powered tools to help automate some of the grunt work of curation, it turned out that SE's interest in the project was to help identify false duplicates.
This suggests that SE thinks closures might be contributing to the perception of being unwelcoming, and are looking for ways to mitigate that.