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I just joined a new community on Reddit, and got a very nice message welcoming me to the community and giving me a few links to important documentation and some tips on how to get the most out of the site. When I join a new sub-site here, all I get is a very business-like pop-up confirmation asking whether I want to join the site. The Reddit experience was much nicer. Not every subreddit does that - but the ones that do really stand out as more friendly.

I think it would be nice to give the moderators the ability to compose a welcome message specific to their community that would get sent to a new user's inbox when they joined. The welcome message could be more specific to the community and would complement the tour, not replace it. After I did the first tour, all the tours on subsequent sites were so similar I just skip it now that I know how Stack Exchange works.

I also think it would help set the tone for engaging with the community better - the tour and the help center are about rules and "how-to"s. The welcome message could be more about helping people feel more connected to the community and understanding how to fit in. It seems like the first memorable interaction a lot of new users have with a community is a close vote or a down vote. I guess I was lucky that my first post was just completely ignored. It would be better if one of the first interactions with a site on the network is a friendly welcome message from the moderators, even if it is obviously a canned message that everyone gets.

Here's a screenshot of the message if anyone is interested. I don't think Stack Exchange would use exactly this sort of welcome message, because it would be redundant with a lot of existing documentation that is easier to find here than on Reddit. I think it should be more focused on cool things about that individual site, like resource threads on the site meta, or events the site has (like Arcade's screenshot of the week contest), or an invitation to the chat room (chat was kind of intimidating for me when I was brand new).

Screenshot of a welcome message from r/ffxiv

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    At first sight, it looks very nice, and like a great way to introduce people to what's on/off-topic, question guidelines, answer guidelines... I do wonder how many people would really take the time to read something like that though, vs just click something like this away, like they would skip Terms of Service. But you can only figure that out by trying it! – Tinkeringbell Dec 1 '20 at 14:38
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    @Tinkeringbell I don't think any of that sort of thing will make much difference to the users who won't read it. I think it will make a big difference to the people who will.There seem to be a lot of veteran users who are fine with things being very business-like, which leads to design choices that appeal only to "just the facts" users. I think there are ways to make the site more engaging for other types of people without annoying the people that like things straight-forward with unicorns farting rainbows. – Prim Reaper Dec 1 '20 at 15:44
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    @Tinkeringbell And I think that it shouldn't focus on rules and guidelines - I think it should be a welcome message that helps people get connected with the community, not a way to try to beat them over the head with how to write a good question. I think for Stack Exchange, it should be used to highlight what's cool and unique about the site. For example, Arcade has a screenshot of the week contest that I had no idea existed when I first joined the site. – Prim Reaper Dec 1 '20 at 15:49
  • Hmm. Those are some interesting points. It of course could point out weekly contests or chat but... most of the sites here are only business, focused on getting good quality content, not on having fun. The fun is seeing the good quality content help others, here ;-) Even the message you show here seems for a large part to focus on 'how things are done here', with references to rules and where to find the necessary information for constructive participatin, not on 'these are the all the things we do besides being reddit'? – Tinkeringbell Dec 1 '20 at 16:50
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    @Tinkeringbell having helped composed a similar message on a different subreddit - after adding it we had: more people reference it with new user first mistakes (with a correlating response of "oh, let me read through that more carefully then" versus the hostile responses we were seeing), veteran users happier to have something they could just reference, and more new user's referencing it in their questions ("I read through X and think this question will be a good fit....") which seemed to temper responses by others. Don't have any data to share (can't) but it had an effect I can tell you. – LinkBerest Dec 1 '20 at 17:06
  • ^ this is not saying do it cause SE != reddit. Just sharing what I can. – LinkBerest Dec 1 '20 at 17:07
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    @Tinkeringbell A site can be focused on "not having fun" stuff without everything about the site having to be focused only on rules and facts. "We're glad you joined our community and here are some things you might find interesting" doesn't encourage bad quality posts. There is plenty of rules stuff already. The tour. The help center. Writing a question has a bunch of stuff in the sidebar and there's a review. I'm not saying that isn't valuable, just that it's also nice to recognize that the humans that ask and answer the questions are as least as important as the information they write. – Prim Reaper Dec 1 '20 at 18:47
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    When I looked around Meta to see if this had already been suggested I bumped into the Welcome Wagon stuff and I understand that there is a big part of the community that is a bit wary of welcoming newbies without making sure they understand the importance of some of the Stack Exchange mechanics. No-one wants SE to fill up with low quality posts. I'm not suggesting that we coddle new users; I just think it's nice to make people feel welcome and start them out on a positive note. It should be a message that makes people feel optimistic about participating, not worried about messing up. – Prim Reaper Dec 1 '20 at 18:54
  • Oh, I'm not saying a message that links to the rules and guidelines can't be filled with pleasantries! Just like your example links to rules and guidelines for the subreddit though, I think a similar message for Stack Exchange is a great idea to introduce users to what's on and off-topic, to give tips about writing good questions/answers (when I said guidelines, I was thinking of some of the checklist type lists that some communities already have on their meta's and linked in their help center), and generally getting them up to speed on being constructive community members in a welcoming way! – Tinkeringbell Dec 1 '20 at 19:42
  • A comment only leaves little room for putting thoughts into words, and my first comment was mainly meant to focus on the similarities between the message you received and how it could introduce Stack Exchange users to the rules of Stack Exchange communities in the same way, vs. wondering how effective such an effort actually would be, how many users would read such a message or just click it away (because that's what I sometimes do, and I see/hear people do the same, just click away the warning/message that explains the site/rules) and I'm glad LinkBerest shared some experience on that! – Tinkeringbell Dec 1 '20 at 19:46
  • The value in such a message to me would lie in its ability to link to comprehensive meta posts that explain how to participate constructively on a site, because the site I moderate (besides this one, this one doesn't count) doesn't have any weekly contests or fun. What it does have is a massive influx of garbage content and confused new users that just didn't read or figure out how the site was supposed to work before participating, and as such are disappointed. That doesn't mean I want to rule out any of the things you mention, just that they didn't cross my mind in my summary first comment. – Tinkeringbell Dec 1 '20 at 20:01
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    @Tinkeringbell I hear you and understand. It seems like the majority of experienced users here value comprehensive, objective explanations and think that presenting it better will make people who don't engage that way want to read it. I'm trying to explain (poorly perhaps) that SE already has a lot of that and it is being ignored--providing more of it isn't going to reach the people ignoring it. The goal should be to get people engaged and different approaches work for different people. I think most of the problems around quality are a lack of caring, not a lack of information. – Prim Reaper Dec 1 '20 at 21:14
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    Of course, there will always be users that don't care and the only thing you can do is to try to not incentivize their bad behavior by answering their low quality questions or up-voting their correct but poorly written answer. It just seems to me that most new user on-boarding efforts are taking the same approach--education about how things work instead of trying to get users excited about participating and make them feel like people are interested in their contributions and will help them learn the ropes. Too much focus on learning all the rules before you post is counter-productive IMO. – Prim Reaper Dec 1 '20 at 21:22
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    An answer isn't just written for you. Which is a thing a welcome message might point out. You seem to be deluding yourself with the idea this message was sent to you to make you feel welcome, and make you feel your contributions would be valued. It's a narrative that suits your beliefs perhaps. It does ignore the fact that the message itself clearly states its purpose is to "inform you about the subreddit and how it functions", and explain the kind of contributions that are valued and how the subreddit works. Try posting something that goes against that, I bet it won't be valued or welcomed. – Tinkeringbell Dec 1 '20 at 22:24
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    Regardless if the automated welcome message is a good idea or not on SE, I agree that the onboarding process is not the best, or even good enough. The welcome message might be put on the header of the Tour since it's actually customizable by mods (, though rarely touched on most sites). – Meta Andrew T. Dec 2 '20 at 12:22
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TL;DR: My initial reaction to this was 'yeah, this would be great'. After the comments we exchanged and the edit you made to the post, I still think it might work if people don't dismiss it as yet another banner, but I disagree with the reasons you give for implementing such a feature, and I think it should only be implemented for 1 reason: Offering a way for moderators to get users informed on how to use the site they just joined that allows more customization than the tour page, and is more 'in your face' than help/on-topic.


The value in such a message to me would lie in its ability to link to comprehensive meta posts that explain how to participate constructively on a site. If your answer is an explanation of why that's the proper use of a welcome message, you don't need to for my benefit.

My answer won't be an explanation of why that's the proper use of a welcome message, my answer will try to explain getting users to participate constructively on a site is the main reason to spend time on implementing this.

You're right in saying that every site can write their own message, but to avoid trying to hammer in nails with a screwdriver, it's necessary to be clear about the reasons for implementing these messages, and the reasons they might be useful. If messages like this are implemented to make handing out screwdrivers to users easier, but communities still expect new users to come equipped to hammer in nails, the messages and implementing them would have no more use than the current tour and help center.


Your Reddit message starts out with 'This message is to inform you about the subreddit and how it functions'. After that, I see: a description of what is 'on-topic' on the subreddit, a link to the rules and how to contact moderators, an invitation to pick a 'flair', an explanation of the sticky posts and what to use them for, guidelines for writing your posts: use the right flair and avoid spoilers, guidance on filtering other's posts, and links to the wiki.

If I would try to find comparative things on SE, a similar message would include: a short description of the topic of site (with a link to help/on-topic), information on the 'rules' and their enforcement (a link to the code of conduct and how to flag page), an invitation to set a profile picture, an explanation of featured and hot posts, guidelines for writing a good question or answer, guidance on using the search bar and filtering questions, and links to useful meta posts.

Basically: Both messages would be filled with information intended to get someone up to speed as soon as possible.


After I did the first tour, all the tours on subsequent sites were so similar I just skip it now that I know how Stack Exchange works.

I don't think Stack Exchange would use exactly this sort of welcome message, because it would be redundant with a lot of existing documentation that is easier to find here than on Reddit.

You're not a total newbie user to SE. You write about skipping tours, and about the existing documentation in the tour and help centers, about knowing how Stack Exchange works. This shows you know your way around SE already to an extent, know where to find what's on-topic on a site, where to find meta, the code of conduct and the flag button.

A completely new user will not know what you know. When you create your first account (I tried by making a sock this morning), it will automatically link you to the tour page. If you join any sites after that, it only gives you the confirmation popup. The tour doesn't teach these skills you already have. The existing documentation you need to get started on a specific site on SE is easier to find for you and me, because we know where it's at by this point.


I think it should be more focused on cool things about that individual site, like resource threads on the site meta, or events the site has (like Arcade's screenshot of the week contest), or an invitation to the chat room (chat was kind of intimidating for me when I was brand new).

I think for Stack Exchange, it should be used to highlight what's cool and unique about the site. For example, Arcade has a screenshot of the week contest that I had no idea existed when I first joined the site

This seems to be your main reason for wanting these messages implemented. According to you, pointing out these things exist will make users feel welcomed and encouraged to start participating more than hitting them over the head with good guidance on how to write useful contributions will.

A really new user won't be able to participate in chat, or in contests that are organised on meta. They don't meet the reputation threshold for that privilege yet. There's a difference between Reddit and SE: Reddit does not have privilege thresholds, SE does. A welcoming message that links users to things they can't do, won't be welcoming. People will be frustrated when they see they have to gain reputation first. Yet the message they were handed doesn't help them reach privilege thresholds, it only points out those things that are out of their reach.


It seems like the first memorable interaction a lot of new users have with a community is a close vote or a down vote.

It just seems to me that most new user on-boarding efforts are taking the same approach--education about how things work instead of trying to get users excited about participating and make them feel like people are interested in their contributions and will help them learn the ropes.

So these messages should be implemented, not so we can educate users on how things work, but instead so we get them excited about participating, and we raise the expectation that we are interested in their contributions and helping them learn the ropes. How would a message teach users the ropes, if there are no references to where to find rope or which ropes are most important?

This would raise a lot of false expectations. If you don't inform users on the site and how it works, how will they be able to avoid that first memorable interaction of a close or down vote? You're only postponing it by one message, and it was a message that made them excited about participating and raised the false expectation that the site was interested in their off-topic post. I doubt people will look back on that message as being useful or welcoming, when all it did was trick them into posting without understanding the site, and as such crashing hard.


@Tinkeringbell having helped composed a similar message on a different subreddit - after adding it we had: more people reference it with new user first mistakes (with a correlating response of "oh, let me read through that more carefully then" versus the hostile responses we were seeing), veteran users happier to have something they could just reference, and more new user's referencing it in their questions ("I read through X and think this question will be a good fit....") which seemed to temper responses by others. Don't have any data to share (can't) but it had an effect I can tell you.

Let's look at what LinkBerest saw a similar message do on Reddit: the message became a reference old users could point new users to, AND something that new users couldn't deny having been presented with before they started participating on a site, which tempered responses.

That should be the reason for implementing such a message: it can be more customized than the tour and do a better job than the tour at explaining which mistakes to avoid and how to write good posts for a particular site. It will (should) be more 'in your face' than the different help center articles or faq's on site meta/MSE.


Getting people excited about contributing and informing them how to do most effectively do so don't need to be mutually exclusive. Your reaction to your Reddit message proves that. But in order to keep people excited, they need to have realistic expectations.

Arguing that the main reason for implementing this feature should be to get new users to feel welcomed, excited and like we're interested in their participation, while also saying these messages shouldn't be used to inform them of how to write a good post or what is on-/off-topic goes against most of how these sites work. SE is not Reddit, after all.

SE sites welcome users that post on-topic, well-written posts. As such these messages should have the same purpose as the ones on Reddit, and be implemented for the same reason: as a way to inform users about a particular site and how they can participate constructively there. Not as a way to merely get people excited and highlight the cool parts of a site at the cost of not educating new users on how to participate. There's already enough over-eager posters disappointed by having their content moderated out there.

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