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For the past few weeks, almost every time I link directly from Google into a question I see the banner:

Welcome back! If you found this question useful, don't forget to vote both the question and the answers up.

I've clicked the "hide" link at the bottom of that banner. It will seem to keep it hidden for a little while (in other words, for the next few questions I click into), but then it will show up again a day or two later. This seems like a bug...

  • 4
    An additional annoying behavior of this is that if you do click to hide it and then click a link within an answer that brings you to another website, when you hit your browser "Back" button to return to the question, the popup will appear again, doubling your frustration. – Jon Comtois Sep 22 '13 at 13:57
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    I saw this banner again today and immediately closed it. I opened a new browser tab and searched for how to stop it, and here it is again on this page! – jtheletter Jul 27 '15 at 22:58
  • It is a friendly greeting to me, so I do not mind it, actually. – neverMind9 May 8 '18 at 22:34
55

The current criteria for choosing when to show the banner are IMHO overly aggressive and will only get worse as Stack Exchange grows. I frequent two or three Stack Exchange sites, but I visit many of the others infrequently. I prefer them to other Q&A sites, because I know they work. But every time I go to a specific Stack Exchange site that I haven't been to recently enough for the current criteria, I get this message.

The message detracts from my experience because:

  • It is visually distracting (deliberately because it's animated)
  • I can't just ignore it, because it covers up useful UI elements
  • It forces me to do extra work to make it go away
  • It tells me nothing I didn't already know

Suggested improvement: I suggest the current criteria be expanded to include a condition that checks your frequency of activity across all Stack Exchange sites. "Activity" can include voting not just visiting, and then the message will get to the right people. Clearly targeting this message at people who already vote frequently is unnecessary.

Those of us who are frequent users of the system-at-large, but not that specific site, shouldn't have to put up with this. To be clear, this is making Stack Exchange worse for me, and the impact is increasing as the number of Stack Exchange sites increases.

  • still don't agree, I get this reminder a fair bit these days, and I think it is completely fair to remind me to vote on questions / answers I get to via search. If they were useful enough to show up in my results, I owe them at least that. – Jeff Atwood Aug 12 '15 at 7:31
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    @Jeff, I'm frankly shocked that your suggested work-around is to log out if I use Google a lot. Srsly? You want to encourage people to log out? – Leopd Aug 25 '15 at 1:25
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    I still cannot believe that this message appears in random SE sites even if you have thousands of rep in Stack Overflow. – André Chalella Oct 18 '15 at 20:56
15
+300

I think this is feasible.

Unlike Jeff Atwood, who suggests loading the pop-up if you have more than 15 rep at the target site but haven't visited the site for 72 hours (and more), I suggest limiting this to user that:

  • Haven't visited the site for one week

  • Have more than 15 rep at the target site and have no accounts with at least 500 rep

  • Haven't created a positive contribution to SE (any SE site) for a total of 100 unique days

The period has been extended since 3 days without activity isn't really that long. 7 days though is a clear indicator of inactivity. Responding to the comments relating to having thousands of rep and still being reminded, the pop-up only shows up for the less-experienced users, those with less than 500 rep on any site. And to ensure you understand SE well and not have a single answer racking up tons of rep, you need to do something at SE that proves that you understand SE... for 100 total days (100 days total SE-wide).

A positive contribution will clearly vary upon users... Anyways, this should cover two key points mentioned by Jeff Atwood and/or the comments:

  • Lack of activity for an extended lack of time means that you are slowly losing your knowledge of the site and not as up to date

  • These reminders don't need to be mentioned to experienced users who know the drill

10

Installing Referer Control extension for Google Chrome helped to get rid of this annoying messages.

  • Can you elaborate on how to use this extension to block this designed annoyance? – user Jan 19 '18 at 1:24
  • You set up this extension so that it blocks referer headers for stackoverflow.com and others. – warvariuc Jan 19 '18 at 15:23
  • I just need to install or is there some configuration needed? – user Jan 19 '18 at 16:56
  • You click on the extension icon to open its configuration. You need to configure what to do with referer header on sites you want. – warvariuc Jan 19 '18 at 17:22
4

This isn't a bug, this is by design:

Welcome back! If you found this question useful, don't forget to vote both the question and the answers up.

only appears if

  • you haven't been seen on the target site for 48 hours

  • you hold a valid user cookie on the target site

  • your account has more than 15 rep on the target site

  • you arrive on a question from a search engine

If you are a very infrequent visitor, yet tend to hit a lot of web search results... you might want to log out. But you really should be voting up all those search results if you found them, and they are helping you!

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    I assume you have metrics in place to measure the effectiveness of this prompt? I wonder if you can evaluate the need for the message at runtime so that you don't annoy chronic searchers if they meet some minimum threshold for voting on answers they find. For example, if they vote on n out of 10 questions, perhaps they can hide the message. If their voting patterns change and they only vote on m out of 10, you override their "hide" preference. – Anthony Pegram May 17 '11 at 3:39
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    Jeff - I am honored to be rebutted by you. Still, I feel this prompt ends up being annoying noise after a while... It definitely is no longer encouraging me to vote up good questions. Anyway, thanks. hearts and unicorns... – jlarson May 17 '11 at 15:07
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    ...and as I think about it a bit longer, possibly the problem is that it comes up before I've had a chance to even read the question and answers, so I don't know yet. It's a bit like the salesguy that harasses you as soon as you walk into the store instead of after you've had a chance to look around and get your bearings. Maybe it could show up after a minute or something? Or possibly after I vote up an answer? – jlarson May 17 '11 at 15:09
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    I've used SO for quite a while now, I know how it works. A message bugging me to vote is annoying and won't affect if I vote that question or answer up. The vast majority of questions I find via Google don't apply to what I'm searching for. If I find a question/answer that helped me or that I find useful/good I'll vote for it, no worries, but that message is annoying! – pbz May 18 '11 at 3:10
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    As a long time StackOverflow user, this message popup annoys me to distraction, to the point that I've STOPPED VOTING UP THE GOOD QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS out of annoyance. This is very useless, what, because I haven't visited in 24 hours? Why not display if I haven't visited in one hour? Why not have a floating CSS popup that keeps the annoying message up for the entire duration of a visit? – Mike Jun 22 '11 at 16:40
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    24 hours seems like way too short a time period. It's not like I've forgotten how the site works merely because I was competent enough yesterday to avoid SO for any help. :) It's also more annoying because the message is multi-line - I can't just ignore it easily, like I can with the other notifications. – Xiong Chiamiov Jun 27 '11 at 1:57
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    I also have to take issue with "If you are a very infrequent visitor, yet tend to hit a lot of web search results... you might want to log out.". If I was an infrequent visitor, I wouldn't mind - clicking away a banner every few weeks isn't a big deal. It's precisely because I visit every other day or so that it's annoying, and the only thing it motivates me to do is stay logged-out (thus, not voting up any questions or answers). I think the root of the problem may be our differing expectations of usage of the site - you seem to think that we should all be visiting multiple times a day. – Xiong Chiamiov Jun 27 '11 at 2:02
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    Personally, Jeff, I really think this should be more like every 5-10 days, definitely not every 48 hours. We're smart people here, we know how the site works, and we know that we can (and should) upvote questions. We don't need to be hounded by a digital mother to do our chores. Would it be so bad if it only popped up once a week? Or only if I haven't upvoted a question for a while? Or maybe only if I have viewed X number of questions without voting? Or maybe just trust that the smart people that use your site, don't need reminding every other day. – KOGI Jul 18 '11 at 22:10
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    I'm reminded of an article about Joel Spolsky (I think you know him) about little things adding up. In the big scheme of things, this reminder is definitely not a huge deal, but it definitely qualifies as an annoyance (a rather large one to boot). joelonsoftware.com/uibook/chapters/fog0000000057.html – KOGI Jul 18 '11 at 22:12
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    The fact that it's once every three days isn't what makes it annoying; it's that it seems like it's every time I visit the site. Normally SO and related sites are the first thing I click on if they appear in Google results; this encourages me to either not do so (!) or to log out (which bothers me, because I like upvoting useful things and leaving helpful comments). I don't mean to sound whiny; I just find it frustrating that something that has made programming so much better seems insistent on driving me away from it. – Xiong Chiamiov Oct 6 '11 at 20:09
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    How often do most users visit stackoverflow? My guess is that for most users, including myself, "once every 24 hours" and "once every 72 hours" both translate to "every time I visit stackoverflow." For us, this change is not a change. – Tom Future Mar 12 '12 at 22:59
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    Why not at least make it go away forever after 10 or 20 votes? – David Mar 26 '13 at 20:25
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    I wish it were 30 days not three, or better yet cookie me after I close it and never show it again, please! – jtheletter Jul 27 '15 at 23:02
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    Can you please stop torturing us with this message? It drives me nuts – Santropedro Feb 18 '18 at 21:57
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    @JeffAtwood Please disable the message for anyone who has voted on questions 100 times among all StackExchange sites. I love StackExchange but this one single item is, as Santropedro says, driving me nuts. And it isn't just once every 3 days. If I close the message, navigate, press back, then it reappears. At the very least fix that. – Rik Renich Nov 10 '18 at 23:11

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