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Lately I have been visiting some Stack Exchange sites like Italian Language and similar, and I saw a lot of people (moderators included) tend to comment chatty things like “Welcome to ...”. I know it’s friendly, nice and whatever, but isn’t it against the rules? When I first registered on Stack Exchange, I only used Stack Overflow and I always got downvoted/had my questions closed/etc., for less important things.

Plus, they even ask/answer weird things that on more serious websites don’t exist (if not for just a few minutes) or, if they do, they get downvoted.

There they even get upvoted by a few people (probably just because the ones asking them have a lot of reputation or something) and it’s really confusing seeing this kind of difference between those websites. I love Stack Exchange because, unlike all other Q&A websites, it is constantly being controlled, so you only find quality content; but I think those uncontrolled (or controlled by a few people) communities tend to ruin this brilliant web site.

So my main question is: why do moderators, the ones that more than anybody else should know how to use this website, make such errors?

  • Sure, here you can see, how this moderator only replies “welcome to...” no links, no anything else... italian.stackexchange.com/a/10402/5327 – Marybnq Apr 12 '19 at 22:27
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    Each site has its own unique rules and circumstances. But it's almost always okay to leave a comment like "Welcome to Site, User! Your question is off-topic because X and can be improved by doing Y." The comment is useful beyond welcoming the user, and is still perceived as friendly. In the case you mentioned the comment left by the moderator was useless beyond welcoming the user. This is probably a site policy. – Pika the Wizard of the Whales Apr 12 '19 at 22:27
  • Here, another welcome: italian.stackexchange.com/q/10379/5327 – Marybnq Apr 12 '19 at 22:28
  • It’s not about giving advices, they’re always welcome and friendly. It’s about being chatty. – Marybnq Apr 12 '19 at 22:29
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    As I said, that's probably an individual site policy. It might be better to bring this up on italian language.meta instead. – Pika the Wizard of the Whales Apr 12 '19 at 22:31
  • italian.stackexchange.com/a/10382/5327 here and in all of this page’s answers. I can’t give you any practical example of the weird things they ask because they are in Italian, but if you speak italian just check the web site and you’ll see by your self. – Marybnq Apr 12 '19 at 22:31
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    What makes you think that? – Pika the Wizard of the Whales Apr 12 '19 at 22:37
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    Posting a link to a Meta question deleted by a moderator would help your case. – PolyGeo Apr 12 '19 at 22:40
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    @PikachuthePurpleWizard I see a lot of users getting downvoted if they seem to be better than the moderators when they answer... I might be wrong but it’s weird... – Marybnq Apr 12 '19 at 22:45
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    This is a common misunderstanding to users new to meta. Downvotes on meta are not bad. On discussions and feature requests, voting indicates agreement or disagreement rather than quality or usefulness. There is no need to worry about downvotes. – Pika the Wizard of the Whales Apr 12 '19 at 22:47
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    In your comments here, it seems like you are conflating comments and questions/answers. Off-topic questions and answers should be downvoted (if you like) or flagged for closure and deletion (if necessary). But off-topic comments are (IMO) harmless. I sometimes even comment on Stack Overflow with "welcome" messages, knowing that my comment might be removed but I don't particularly care since I know comments are ephemeral. You can flag those moderators' comments and they will probably be removed too. – Kodos Johnson Apr 13 '19 at 0:08
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    So putting comments aside, it seems like your main concern is the "weird" questions and answers some moderators are posting. In that case, it would be best to bring this up with that site's meta. This Stack is unable to gauge the usefulness of questions and answers on other sites. – Kodos Johnson Apr 13 '19 at 0:10
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    @Marybnq I can ensure you that we do not delete meta post willy-nilly on the meta of Italian.SE. I personally welcome (civil) disagreement with the site policies: it always pays off reflecting why we are doing what we are doing. I would have appreciated if your post on our meta were more concrete, with explicit examples of moderation actions you disagree with and not just a couple of links to welcoming comments (which, in my opinion, in the grand scheme of things are not that important). If you feel that we are abusing our power, you are of course welcome to use the "Contact us" button. – Denis Nardin Apr 13 '19 at 12:47
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    Possible duplicate of Should "Welcome to [site]" (and nothing else) comments be flagged? – Rob Apr 20 '19 at 3:46
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Small communities, especially ones still in beta, are different.

All Stack Exchange sites exist primarily to build a repository of knowledge on a particular topic. We want to build a library of well-asked questions with good, solid answers. That's why the focus is on Q&A and not forum-style chit-chat.

However, small communities need to grow, sometimes one user at a time, and especially when the topic is relatively "niche". While Stack Overflow is large enough that it isn't negatively affected by a bunch of users coming once, getting an answer, leaving, and never returning, on smaller sites "never returning" is a lost opportunity. We want to convert passersby into engaged users -- or, at least, the ones who want to help build that Q&A library.

And because the easiest way to drive off a new user is to ignore the person, experienced users on small sites (whether "regular" community members or moderators) leave what are technically chatty comments to welcome and guide the new user. These comments usually get deleted after a while, at least if moderators notice or people flag, but the people on the small sites I'm active on see these comments as helpful or at worst harmless.

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    For what is worth I have a personal rule of thumb that I accept the flags to delete those comments only if the comments are at least 6 months old (I was not not the one refusing the flags that Mary is upset about though, and other moderators may feel differently). I personally see no need to delete those comments, it's not like our site is flooded by comments anyway – Denis Nardin Apr 13 '19 at 15:22
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If you think a comment is too chatty then you can always flag it as such.

If your flag gets declined and, on reflection, you still think that it is clearly too chatty, then you could re-flag, but a better alternative may be to post into the Meta of that site to see whether your views echo or are at odds with the rest of that community.

Personally, I like to see no chatty comments on sites because the Tour says, I think on all sites, that there should be no chit-chat.

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    I always flag chatty comments, but as I said, some communities, in this case the Italian one, only have a few moderators. It’s clear that if they’re the same ones that check wether something they did is right or wrong they won’t be objective... – Marybnq Apr 12 '19 at 22:42
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    Although I am a moderator on two sites (one elected, one appointed), my expectation on all sites is that its moderators will always try to act objectively. Occasionally, I see unexpected actions or actions that I would not perform myself but I cannot recall any that I would class as having had no objectivity. – PolyGeo Apr 12 '19 at 22:49
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    There's no reason to not try first before claiming that they're probably gonna be objective. If you find moderators of a particular community aren't doing their job, there's always the "contact us" form for you to present your case directly to people who can do something about it. – user400654 Apr 12 '19 at 22:50

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