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One thing I have noticed over the years of being on Stack Exchange sites is the consistent use of “Hey guys…” as an opening declaration of many question and answer posts. Not everyone who participates on Stack Exchange sites is a guy — or even desires to identify as a “guy” — right?

When I catch them, I remove them while keeping post context in mind. But considering the Stack Exchange network’s desire to make this place a more friendly and welcoming place for all, would it make sense to add a “Hey guys…” filter that would warn or prevent posts from being made of the words “Hey guys…” show up in the post?

For example:

The type of filter I am thinking of is similar to the one that catches anyone posting a question title with the word “Help” in it. But in this case it would — of course — attempt to detect words in the body content of posted questions and answers.

Title filter in action.

What the wording of that red text would be and what would it link to? Unclear myself. And I would not be insistent that posts be completely blocked due to “Hey guys…” triggering a warning; perhaps something like an “FYI” box shows up that allows an original poster to self-edit if need be. And perhaps limit such a filter to the tech-focused sites since those fields — for better or worse — tend to be male dominated.

But I personally find the low-level buzz of “Hey guys…” being posted on Stack Exchange sites something that can be dealt with and lead to positive outcomes for all.

And honestly, it seems to consistently be in the first two words of the body of a post, see screenshot below of the results on Stack Overflow for example:

Screenshot of search results for “Hey guys…” on Stack Exchange.


And for context for those who don’t really understand the issue of using “guys” casually like this, here are two decent articles that delve into this issue:

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    Just a quick cultural correction: where I was raised (in the western U.S.), the term "guys" is not often used as an exclusively male term, but can also include others. – Sonic the K-Day Hedgehog Jan 2 at 2:38
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    @SonictheAnonymousHedgehog Well, I can counter that by saying the generic use of “he” as a gender neutral pronoun is falling out of favor. And as far back as the early 1990s in the U.S. in major metropolitan cities ads for a “Gal Friday” would be listed everywhere; these were essentially personal assistant positions in the world of finance and advertising but was not limits to women either. But “gal” is not a word you hear being used in that context anymore. Language changes and my feature request is for some kind of warning to be placed; not an outright ban. – Giacomo1968 Jan 2 at 2:41
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    Might be worth considering the Scunthrope effect - there may be questions where this is needed. Would there be a reduction in community moderation workload from this change? Would this count as generic noise, which we would handle anyway? – Journeyman Geek Jan 2 at 2:43
  • @JourneymanGeek Well, from my example posted it might apply just to the tech related sites. You do a similar search on other non-tech Stack Exchange sites and utterly no results show up. But on Super User and Stack Exchange? Always at least one. And perhaps the filter is just informative instead of blocking? Allow a user to self-edit. – Giacomo1968 Jan 2 at 2:46
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    Adding a warning may have the opposite affect on friendliness/welcoming. See the blog post which mentions users feeling unwelcome after being warned about thank yous. now they can't say "hey guys" either. Especially if we link them to a 200 page essay explaining the pronoun issues. – dustytrash Jan 2 at 4:12
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    @SonictheAnonymousHedgehog the fact that many people intend guys to be gender neutral when they say it is not the same as all people actually hear it as neutral. People exist who feel excluded by it, whether the speaker intended so or not. I have stopped using guys myself for this reason. It wasn't that hard and it was worth it. – Kate Gregory Jan 2 at 16:27
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    That said, a warning is unlikely to help - editing the greeting away is probably best anyway, since we don't do greetings whether gendered or not. – Kate Gregory Jan 2 at 16:28
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To me, the question comes over a bit "narrow minded" (and I don't mean the fact that guys addresses "humans" in general, it is acceptable to be used with groups of people of different gender). I think solely talking about "hi guys" isn't enough.

When you prevent those specific words, then people will find other ways to "salute" their audience! The real problem are salutations!

If we want to be serious about such a feature change, then: we should ask for some real AI/NLP capabilities. Don't stop at simple pattern matching. Spend the resources required to "understand" the elements in the text, and then refuse content that contains salutations in general.

And nicely explain why we don't want that here. Anything else is a workaround, putting band-aids on one specific kind of injury, whilst ignoring all similar stuff.

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    -1 Where did this come from: “If you would want to be serious about such a feature change, then: add some real AI/NLP capabilities. Don't stop at simple pattern matching. Spend the resources required to "understand" the elements in the text, and then refuse content that contains salutations in general.” Why are you chastising me about methods? I am not suggesting any specific coding architecture or methods but rather, “I noticed this and I believe adding a filter about this would be helpful.” – Giacomo1968 Jan 2 at 15:01
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    @JakeGould I agree, you didn't mention any specific method. But you spent plenty of words and keep hammering on "hi guys". That is a valid starting point, but the conclusion, imho, should be the one I outlined in my answer. But I will adapt the answer a bit. – GhostCat Jan 2 at 19:08
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I don't think this is a particularly good/well thought of feature request.

Firstly, we're special classing what's basically generic noise. We're more likely to find "Hey guys" in a body, not the title.

Things that are on the blocklist for titles - problem and help, for example, tend to be harbringers of other issues, or generally useless titles.

I guess the questions I'd ask myself are

  1. Is this something that's a demonstrable issue that is common enough that a block list would reduce community moderation workloads?

  2. Are we looking at the right place? Salutations are more often found in the post body

  3. How likely as false positive? On tech related sites, its probably very uncommon to need that specific phrase - but there's more than SO, SU or even MSE under the SE umbrella. I can see potential for issues if the regex isn't written right.

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    “Are we looking at the right place? Salutations are more often found in the post body” Where did I ever say to not look in the post body? Edited my question to make this clearer. – Giacomo1968 Jan 2 at 3:11
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    The current blocks are for the title, and one would assume that's what you're talking about as per the original version of the question – Journeyman Geek Jan 2 at 3:13
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    Even in the original version of my question I state the following in the very first sentence; bold emphasis is mine, ‘One thing I have noticed over the years of being on Stack Exchange sites is the consistent use of “Hey guys…” as an opening declaration of many question and answer posts.’ How you are implying a title filter is beyond me. And heck, I know there are filters on body content because they definitely exists for URL shortener URLs in body content. – Giacomo1968 Jan 2 at 3:18
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I think a red-text advisory could say something like

Salutations - it's best to avoid them and get right to the question.

..because I thought that we were supposed to remove "thanks in advance" and "hello" type things surrounding the text anyway?

(I do like the articles you included links to in your question, and I feel that they should be included in a for-further-reading or part of the longer help text.)

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    Personally, I am in favor of, since "y'all" seems too casual, americans adopting the Spanish word "ustedes" - 2nd person plural, no gender specified. It's literally more formal than the first person iteration (you might address a single teacher or your boss as ustedes, or use that verb form), but has the plurality. – April Salutes Monica C. Jan 2 at 16:14
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    Also, Miss Piggy had it right when she was always addressing everyone as "vous" -- similar usage, if I recall my middle school French classes: 2nd person plural, or 2nd person mega-respectful. "It is time for vous to get on stage for my big number." – April Salutes Monica C. Jan 2 at 16:15

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