I posted a few questions on Stack Overflow and every time someone edits my question and remove the first sentence like "Hi all" and the last one like "thanks, Rémi"...

What the problem with being polite? Do we have to speak like a machine?

Example: https://stackoverflow.com/posts/5537187/revisions

"polished" means "poli" in French which means also polite, so that's kind of fun here.

  • I am new around here, but I have wondered the same thing.
    – Mr.Wizard
    Commented Apr 5, 2011 at 7:19
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    As an aside: yegor256 also fixed some (though not all) of your excessive spacing before question marks, and some (but not all) of your double question marks. Don't confuse web browsers when they need to insert a line break: no spaces before punctuating, please.
    – Arjan
    Commented Apr 5, 2011 at 7:30
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    @Arjan those are the standard french punctuation rules.
    – Pekka
    Commented Apr 5, 2011 at 7:39
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    Wow, @Pekka. Then let me rephrase: please put a non-breaking space before punctuation. :-) (That aside, we're writing in English here, right? Ban the excessive whitespace!)
    – Arjan
    Commented Apr 5, 2011 at 7:42
  • Where did you see a line breaking space ? he changed '"Customer" ??' with 'Customer"?', here the double interrogation mark are used to mark the most important question, the final one ! Commented Apr 5, 2011 at 7:53
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    @remi - in English double punctuation serves no purpose and is incorrect.
    – Rory Alsop
    Commented Apr 5, 2011 at 8:12
  • @remi The space between "Customer" and ?? could result in a line-break between them if "Customer" falls at the end of a line. Without the space, they would go together onto a new line. I believe that's what @Arjan is trying to say.
    – moinudin
    Commented Apr 5, 2011 at 8:14
  • Indeed Remi, @marcog is right, that is what I meant. Anyway, these sites being English, I would feel you would be much more polite when showing you've taken some time to "polish" your post before saving it. To me, that includes adhering to basic English grammar. (Like no excessive whitespace, starting sentences with capital letters, and no double punctuation marks.) Thanks!
    – Arjan
    Commented Apr 5, 2011 at 8:50
  • Punctuation and writing is not bound to language but to culture, so which culture should we use ? American ? English ? Indian ? French ? Canadian ? en.wikipedia.org/wiki/… Commented Apr 5, 2011 at 8:56
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    Thanks for proving that the space before the question mark is evil on English websites! ;-) (Maybe browsers behave differently when knowing it's French?) So, French-English, if existent: I don't think I want to learn about that. (See also How do comment @replies work?)
    – Arjan
    Commented Apr 5, 2011 at 9:20
  • @Arjan thanks didn't know it was interpreted by SE (don't remember which web site but once I saw an auto-completion after you entered '@', interesting). Anyway thank for your feedback, I'll try to adapt myself to this greetings-less community. Commented Apr 5, 2011 at 9:32
  • (The chat has a very nice auto-completion when typing the @. Not so much on these websites though.)
    – Arjan
    Commented Apr 5, 2011 at 9:34
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    Machines can be programmed to say "please", "thank you", etc. Littering your post with them doesn't make you sound any more polite or any more human. Better content, however, helps a lot. Commented Apr 5, 2011 at 10:11
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    Hi remi! Your questions are full of annoying noise. Please stop it. Thanks, Will.
    – user1228
    Commented Apr 5, 2011 at 14:56
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    @Will Hi will, you remarks is highly rude, but still funny. Please keep going on. Hope you're well.Best Regards. Remi. Commented Apr 5, 2011 at 15:06

2 Answers 2


What the problem with being polite ?

You will will find that people on SO are usually very polite in day-to-day communication. However, questions are treated as something that is detached from the asker. It's about the content, not the person asking it.

While this may appear rude at first, it really is an incredible social quality, because it implies that a good question deserves to be answered no matter who asks it.

It also ensures they can, if needed, be edited and have the lasting value for future generations they are supposed to have.

I see what you mean, but it's just a question of culture, and easy to get used to. I personally wouldn't edit somebody else's question just to remove the salutation, but it is within the rules and bound to happen occasionally.

  • 1
    "a good question deserves to be answered no matter who asks it" it's not about who, but about how, and if the guy ask the question without respect , I won't answer him. I give you my knowledge, just give me your respect, and since many years politeness is a way to express your respect to someone. Commented Apr 5, 2011 at 7:55
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    @remi the way on SO to express respect is asking a good and clear question, doing one's homework beforehand, looking for duplicates beforehand, and listening to any advice given. If I, as an answerer, get only two out of these four, I am already satisfied. :)
    – Pekka
    Commented Apr 5, 2011 at 7:58

With a Q&A site, you want as much information as possible on the first page, so people can see if they can answer it. Greetings are taking part of this space, so we can't see as much information as we want. And this causes fewer people to read your question and decreases the chance of a useful answer.

Besides, it's not rude according to the Stack Overflow community. Rude is (for example) to ask a question and use comments to degrade the answers. Or to downvote without comment.

  • 4
    Indeed, waste of space. (Especially in the tooltip.)
    – Arjan
    Commented Apr 5, 2011 at 7:23
  • IT people are really strange ... I kind hate when these "waste of space" are not here. I don't see why the basic rules of politeness are different in SO than in any other place in the world. If it's like that here, it should be written in the "ask question" page. Commented Apr 5, 2011 at 7:29
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    @remi bourgarel, SO is community driven (with some guidance of the mod team). And due to usability, the community tends to remove those lines. And yes IT people are strange, just like other people. Commented Apr 5, 2011 at 7:34
  • Maybe this is because It's the only Q&A site I use. The problem here is that we can't make the difference between the people who doesn't respect the others and the peoples who does, and greetings help for that. Commented Apr 5, 2011 at 7:45
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    It is not a matter of respect but a matter of effectiveness. A salutation and a sentence that you are grateful for any help is not helping anyone in solving your problem. It is wasted space and time. Commented Apr 5, 2011 at 7:58
  • @Remi - FAQ states - Please don’t use signatures or taglines in your posts Commented Apr 5, 2011 at 8:17
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    @Sathya ok for the signature (it's useless since there is already a link to my profile), but I can read "Treat others with the same respect you’d want them to treat you", and I use to say Hi before speaking to anyone. Commented Apr 5, 2011 at 8:26

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