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I love seeing new users ask great questions, and I try to be as friendly as possible to these newbies as I still feel like one of them! I'm aware that friendly welcome messages are "off topic" for strict Q&A, so I worry about adding them to my answers.

So, my suggestion would be for the ability to add a friendly welcome to new users, which then drops off from the answer after a period of time, so when this answer is viewed after a long period of time it's stripped down to the clean-cut answer, sans friendliness!

How do you all feel it is best to be friendly and welcoming, while not cluttering up questions/answers?

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    By not cluttering up questions/answers for the many visitors to come. Leave a comment if you feel that way. Keep it out of what matters: the posts. – rene Aug 27 at 13:04
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The comment experience needs to be improved more comprehensively. The network-wide satisfaction surveys show comments to be one of the top "poor experiences" across these sites. We don't need more exceptions. We need a more-open chat experience that doesn't interfere with the main Q&A.

As it stands now, we invite users to "comment" and then tell them they're doing it wrong across the network. The problem with adding another narrowly targeted exception is conveying (and policing) where "chatty comments" are sometimes okay. What is that exception? How do users know? How long does it last? How do on-lookers know it's not okay anywhere else? How do you identify which comments to drop off? How are you going to keep "useful comments" from going with them?

That's a lot of meta wrangling.

This constant overloading of what it means to "comment" is the problem, not the solution. We need to simplify what it means to comment; not complicate it with more exceptions. I agree that welcoming a new user is a natural response to seeing a new user, but the solution has to come from reworking the comment UI so friendly and well-meaning comments don't interfere with the main Q&A.

5

The only way something like that won't clutter the site it by having automated banner, same concept as the "new contributor" banner:

The banner will be visible only to the question author above the answers, and can be reworded of course.

2

Some userscripts, like Auto Review Comments and my 'Saviour' of Lost Souls automatically insert a welcome message, along with other useful information appropriate to the current situation. Auto Review Comments lets you write your own templates, so even if there is nothing particularly wrong with the question, you can guide them towards other useful resources such as the Tour and/or the Help Center. (But remember: that's not really what comments are for - but neither are questions nor answers.)

If you combine this with a SEDE query to search for your (old) comments containing the word 'welcome', you can regularly run that query and see if some comments can be cleaned up.

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