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I had started an answer with "Dear [username] " and I see that this heading was deleted by a moderator. Is this a general policy on this site ? I'm a new user and don't yet know the rules. Needless to say, I am not arguing and intend to comply but I just wanted to ask about this point of etiquette.

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    Elencwajg: I think this is a pertinent question, and nicely presented. My understanding is that for any given Question, the ideal is that one Answer should (rapidly or eventually) become far more upvoted than any/all others. Support for Comments is partly to help contributers discuss and fine-hone their Answers in pursuit of that ideal, and partly to foster the general sense of community that makes the site a nice place to visit. But that sense of community is only really needed while the Answers are being formulated and assessed. In the end you just want the bare Answer. – FumbleFingers May 11 '11 at 23:55
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    I prefer to be addressed by my real name, written on a check in the amount of $5,000 or more. A note of praise accompanying the check is thoughtful, but not strictly necessary. And please, no perfume. I mean, come on! – Robusto May 17 '11 at 1:48
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    @Robusto - are we allowed to put lipstick on the note? – mgb May 18 '11 at 21:03
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The key thing to remember is that this site is not a traditional forum or a social network; it is all about questions and answers, not "addressing fellow users". When you write an answer, you don't write it just for the original poster, you write it for anyone and everyone who might have that question in the future. Personal salutations are extraneous clutter at best, and completely misleading at worst. Remember that anyone can change their user name at any time without notice, or even completely delete their account, so you will end up addressing a meaningless string of characters.

For further reading, check out e.g. this question on the meta Meta: Should 'Hi', 'thanks' and taglines and salutations be removed from posts?

Here I will quote just a paragraph or two.

If this is supposed to be a website which is servicing more than just the primary author, we need to think about how we construct messages so that they appear more clearly to those searching on google for questions that match their own. If I am looking for a solution for question X, I want to find someone who had the same problem, not their short autobiography and formalities before getting to that actual question. — TheTXI

[I]f we had two parallel worlds, one with the [post] including the greetings etc, and one without, which would we choose? I'd choose the world where the [posts] just had the required information, as readably and concisely as possible. — Jon Skeet

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    Thank you for this very clear and thorough answer. I knew that this site is all about questions and answers, but I'm a user of another such site where personal salutations are quite common. However, as I already mentioned in my question, when I am on this site here I shall of course fully comply with its etiquette. – Georges Elencwajg May 10 '11 at 18:38
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Usually we restrict the question area to the question itself, since the site is intentionally structured as Q&A rather than forum discussion. So introductions, thank-yous, signatures, and the like are generally deleted. (Of course, these aren't seen as "poor etiquette" per se, they are just not part of the format of the site, so they will be removed when not relevant to the question.) The same goes for answers.

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    Thank you for your explanation, Kosmonaut. I shall of course follow the rules and customs you have indicated. – Georges Elencwajg May 10 '11 at 18:24
  • Precisely. – Lightness Races in Orbit May 16 '11 at 1:22
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Greetings are polite, and generally used on forums.

However, Stack Exchange sites are not forums, and greetings take up a line of space for no particular practical reason.

Thus, per convention, the greeting is made implicit. There is no need for it on every single post... or, indeed, on any!

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