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Before the beginning of the 2019 pandemic, I regularly saw older and even lower-rep 3K users welcoming noobie users on the main with at least some kind of boiler-plate comment such as...

"Welcome to English Language and Usage, etc..."

Phrases such as that may sound like a form letter; however, to the new user it is an indication that we are at least considering their request... and I think it is just common courtesy.


I cannot remember the last time I have seen that here, and I cannot remember the last time I said it.

We have some very good people joining the community recently.

...is this for the new formatting? Or are we getting more surly for cabin fever?

I think we need to get back to being a more-welcoming culture...how do we accomplish that, going forward into the future of the site?


A radical suggestion...why don't we take the time we used to spend on the Queues prior to the 3-vote rule, and devote it towards bringing interesting but badly-worded questions on-topic through judicious editing and helpful advice?

That would be profitable for the site; It's basically a win-win-win situation.

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  • I remember my 'onboarding' for rather lack of it , from Rathony...I was quite put out. – Cascabel Jul 3 at 19:10
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    I don’t know what to suggest to actually motivate people to place these comments, but for those who are so motivated, I can offer up the old repository of polite responses. Of course, these are mostly used to soften the blow for off-topic questions, but then again comments are mostly (in theory, only) used to suggest improvements to the post. In my experience, this (critiquing the Q) is the only place I’ve seen comments introduced with “Welcome…”; I haven’t noticed a drop-off, but at the same time I’ve been much less involved recently. – Dan Bron Jul 3 at 19:28
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    Worth noting Sven Yargs recommends “thanks for visiting..” in place of “welcome to..” in cases where the latter runs the risk of being insincere. Also, some flags / decisions from the review queues place boilerplate comments which (IIRC) start with “Hi, welcome to…”; mostly on answers, I believe? The review queues seem a lot quieter than they used to, possibly due to the recent changes to review badges. Maybe this explains the decline you’re seeing. – Dan Bron Jul 3 at 19:30
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    There's an auto-comment GreaseMonkey user script which adds that boilerplate text, and can do it automatically. If people aren't using that, they are less likely to include it. – Andrew Leach Jul 3 at 19:58
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I am glad you address this issue, I almost left the site in the beginning because I first mistook the professionalness and high standards of the site as sheer rudeness and elitism. It takes a while to get used to it and come to appreciate it. And although nobody told me "Welcome to the EL&U", it was the kindness of some users that made me understand that there is more to the site than I thought.

It is not only about saying "Welcome to the EL&U" and then smash the person to pieces with criticism and irony (we do that too often), even if it is deserved because of a poor answer or question. It is about kindess, and luckily, some users here have plenty of it.

I am really glad I stayed, and I have expressed gratitude in another post, although one does come across acid comments now and then. The value of the site outweighs such small inconveniences. I will not name other sites, but I confess I tried other large language sites or forums which were not as "tight" let's say, when it comes to rules or standards. And I must say that I was so disappointed by the repetitiveness of the answers, the amount of reliable information so insignificant in comparison with what one user called "fluff" (introductions, jokes, thanks, etc.) and lack of resources... It is at that point that I wrote my grateful post here, because then I understood how special it is. It is competitive, and I find it very motivating.

Thinking of new users, people do get easily offended, more nowadays, and I do agree, surprisingly, with a user who got very angry this week. Agree on what? Well if something offended you and you are given the link of the tour, you click on it and read "We are a little bit different from other sites", I do agree it can be interpreted very wrongly as the opposite of what it is intended to mean. I know, the site cannot please all, but maybe an introduction less liable to misinterpretation might help.

I might come to add things later. But my main thought is, maybe a slight change in our general tone might give the site a more welcoming feel.

One way or the other, I am staying! :-)

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We are all here familiar with the distinction between semantics and pragmatics, and the need to take both into account in interpreting what people say or write.

Looking at 'Welcome to English Language and Usage . . .' from the viewpoint of semantics, it is, well, welcoming, and that is a good thing. Looking at it from the viewpoint of pragmatics, however, the matter is not so straightforward. It may be relevant that most of the occurrences of 'welcoming' phrases on this site are within boilerplate comments that get automatically posted when somebody reviewing a first post finds a fault with it. Even apart from being thus associated with criticism, a 'welcoming' comment draws attention to the fact somebody has recently joined the site and that may make the person self-conscious. It may, despite being superficially friendly, convey a subtly condescending attitude on part of the regular contributors to the new ones.

Treating new contributors the same way as established ones, by engaging with the substance of their contributions may be a better way of making them feel welcome than routine posting of expressions of welcome.

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    Yeah. I think "welcome to" sounds phoney. This is not a club you join; this is a place you drop in at for certain purposes. It's designed to avoid social contact, if anything. – John Lawler Jul 6 at 14:42
  • I think canned comments can come across as insincere. I suspect that most of the folks that stay lurk a bit first, so popular prewritten phrases are not going to be that novel. However, I don’t think ignoring that they are new to the site is a good idea. It’s hard for some people to interact with an established community and try to figure out how to fit into it. Imagine walking into a room of strangers and the only one who talks to you says (very civilly) that your name tag is on the wrong side of your shirt, then walks off. Some small “howdy” gesture can make a newbie more likely to stay. – ColleenV Jul 6 at 16:54
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    I might add, I don't want anybody being "onboarded", either. This isn't a ship, either. It's a service and an entertainment, and both products are of quite variable quality; Everything is done by volunteers who care about the system. Most of us don't care enough to do it, and everyone has different opinions about what needs to be done, what constitutes English, what constitutes Language, and what constitutes Usage. Some even believe they know what's Correct. And we all disagree, of course. So, what else is new? – John Lawler Jul 8 at 3:47
  • @JohnLawler, your saying 'This is not a club you join' captures very succinctly one side of the disagreements of this kind that keep regularly appearing on the meta-site; the other side seems to perceive the site as something like a club (with the corollary that the notion of 'onboarding' is applicable). We, who are on the former side, see ourselves as writing primarily for those who will come to the page in the future (including thousands of one-time visitors who will never open an account), and view our interaction with other regular users as incidental to that common purpose. – jsw29 Jul 8 at 18:19
  • Well, I don't think the future users will find very much useful, frankly. There is so much junk here that nobody ever finds what they need. The Q-A format is not appropriate or effective for a topic that has as much fake text about it as English Language and Usage. And the "tags" are guaranteed to confuse anyone. – John Lawler Jul 8 at 18:25

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