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I understand that "thank you" is considered noise on main sites and should be edited out. On meta sites, rules tend to be a little different though (e.g. discussions and opinions are allowed, etc.) so I was wondering if "thank you" is generally acceptable on meta sites (at least when it's not just a generic "thank you"/"thanks in advance" comment) or if it should still be edited out. After all, we have some posts dedicated entirely to thanking a user or a group of users.

The incident that made me decide to ask about that was in this question1 where the author decided to thank the community for their collaborative effort at the end of the post:

I would like to thank everyone who helped in creating this reference.

But it was edited out recently as noise (see: revisions). I was going to rollback the edit but I thought I should first check if there's general consensus about situations like this. I didn't find any posts where this has been discussed, so I'm asking you: what do you think?

  • "Thank you" in meta posts should always be edited out as noise?
  • They are generally acceptable and should be left alone?
  • They should only be edited out sometimes? Explain.

1 This is just an example; please don't make it about that specific question.

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3 Answers 3

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My two cents: I wouldn't have edited it out, but it's probably not worth my time to engage in a rollback war. And I'm pretty consistent in removing fluff from posts (except for a few communities where I know they deviate from the general policy).

This is what the FAQ says:

Meta has a reputation for being more... relaxed than the other Stack Exchange sites.

Also, posts on Meta tend to be more like prose than posts on the technical and scientific Stack Exchange sites, which should read more like documentation or published articles, where a "thank you" feels really out of place.

Finally, they are often longer, so the signal-to-noise ratio is higher anyway.

But does that sentence add any value to the post? Meh, I don't know. What I do know that it's not worth fighting over.

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I think "thank you" is noise most of the time and should at least be rephrased. I don't mind seeing it in a post on rare occasions but if it becomes too frequent it quickly starts feeling like noise. My opinion on meta goes along the same lines, unless a poster or the whole community poured massive amounts of time into addressing a problem it doesn't make much sense to say thanks over something minor.

To put a number on the problem, the following is from SO main taken over less than a year:

Jul 22, 2021 June 5, 2022 Difference Increase
thanks - 3,429,775 results thanks - 3,552,365 results 122,590 3.57%
thanks to - 178,878 results thanks to - 189,080 results 10202 5.7%

That 3.5%-5% increase is after all the routine editing out of "thanks" that already happens, so it's a growing problem.


On Meta Stack Exchange the problem isn't as large:

thank you thanks total posts Percentage
1,765 results 6,027 results 242,434 3.2%

But I routinely would remove "thanks" if I feel the post isn't something out of the ordinary in terms of effort or subject.

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I think Meta sites often relax the guidelines that apply to Main sites too much, even though a small element of relaxation is harder too avoid on Meta sites.

The strength of Main site guidelines on removing thanks and other statements of appreciation is that removing chit chat gets post viewers more quickly to the point being made by a post whether that be a single clear question, or a clear answer to a question.

I think the same applies to Meta sites where we see too many convoluted discussions about something observed on a site rather than focused Q&A to find an answer to a question raised about something observed on that site.

I think chit chat like thanks and other statements of appreciation should be removed from posts irrespective of whether it is seen on Main or Meta sites.

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