8

Since I recently got the privilege to review edits I noticed something that I found quite peculiar.

I found that one user edited out little pleasantries from at least a few questions and answers for example this post and this post. Since at least in the last instance there seem to be different opinions I hereby ask.

So the lines

Thanks a lot for your help!

&

Please enlighten me. Thank you! :D

were edited out.

Is a thank you in a question really a reason to edit a question? Why would we actively discourage a jovial flavor in questions and answers - provided of course the questions and answers themselves are valuable?

18

Yes; it's a general Stack Exchange policy to edit out irrelevant parts of a question like pleasantries, signatures, and greetings.

The reasons are discussed in the answers to the following Meta SE question ("Should 'Hi', 'thanks', taglines, and salutations be removed from posts?") and the answers to the linked questions that can be seen in the right sidebar on that page.

Basically, the consensus is that this kind of text is distracting and wastes time and space. One thing to keep in mind is that under the Stack Exchange model, questions and answers are intended to be read many times by future visitors to the site. These visitors will not be helped by seeing a "thank you" that isn't even addressed to them.

If you disagree with this, you don't have to make these kind of edits yourself, but please don't revert or reject edits by other users that conform with these guidelines.

  • Not what I hoped to hear, especially regarding a little thank you at the end, but okay :/ – Helmar Aug 23 '16 at 9:33
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    @Helmar, well, the idea seems to be that you can express thanks after the question is answered with votes and accepts, and before the question is asked by spending time on it to make sure it is interesting and clear. – sumelic Aug 23 '16 at 9:38
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    Another factor to take into consideration is that users and newcomers bypass the minimum character limit by saying "Thanks in advance" etc. The character limit is there to force them to provide context and, hopefully, evidence of research. – Mari-Lou A Aug 23 '16 at 10:03
  • @Mari-LouA That makes real sense and I hadn't thought about that. – Helmar Aug 23 '16 at 10:53
  • @sumelic In my view a thanks beforehand and an up vote after the answer are not mutually exclusive, but overall I get why the decision has been made. – Helmar Aug 23 '16 at 10:55
  • Bad luck Sumelic, I really wanted you to be our moderator. Next time, I'll help run and organise your campaign and staff. :) – Mari-Lou A Aug 23 '16 at 20:12
  • @Mari-LouA: Thanks for the support! – sumelic Aug 23 '16 at 20:49
6

How would you feel about picking up an encyclopedia in which every entry had "thanks in advance" stuck in between the entry heading and the answer? Don't you think after scanning a couple pages those lines would just be noise that got in the way of what you were looking for?

How about Wikipedia? What if the article summary at the top of every entry started out with "I hope you find this information helpful...".

Stack Exchange Q&A sites are not quite either of those things, but they are meant to be more akin to those reference formats than they are to discussion boards or social media sites where the personal interactions are part of the game. Unlike Wikipedia your name is attached to every post you make, but it's neatly tucked away as part of your user card. The expectation is that the actual posts will get straight down to business. The low amount of noise on SE sites is part of what makes the resulting sites such good reference tools. When you turn up a post looking for an answer yourself you get just the meat of the thing rather than having to sift through some other people's interactions.

The accepted norm is to always edit these kind of personal interactions out of post if they are being edited for any other reason or if the post has recently been bumped by getting an answer of having been edited by someone else. On the other hand if you run across years old posts with thank you lines in them and there is nothing else worth fixing, don't bother editing and bumping these to the front page.

  • 1
    Well actually I wouldn't mind a short thanks within the SE format. Since it is somehow different from wikipedia or a dictionary in terms of format the metaphor doesn't really hold in my opinion. The other answers in the post sumelic added to his answer suggest I am not the only one. Of course I accept that the site has established that procedure and will proofread accordingly. – Helmar Aug 23 '16 at 12:25
0

As a newcomer surprised by having had a simple word of thanks edited out of my first question, and while I accept the platform and community guidelines on the subject, I wonder if the platform and the community are not missing out on an opportunity to exert a positive influence upon human culture in ways other than the purely academic.

Encyclopedias are collections of monologues, each one delivering some information on a subject but in a single direction; from the writer of each article to the readers. Wiki-style encyclopedias are somewhat more flexible in the sense that they allow readers to become writers themselves, but their guidelines encourage articles to be written in an academic manner resembling those of conventional encyclopedias.

What I, maybe alone, expect to find in a Q&A site is not a collection of monologues but a collection of dialogues, a place where those seeking information and those providing information can engage in bidirectional conversations allowing the seekers to seek, and the providers to provide, further clarifications that may be helpful to future readers. Conventional, academically written encyclopedia articles are generally less accessible to non-academic readers because they require non-academic readers to understand academic language.

But dialogues typically occur between two or more people; they are a common form of interaction between any two or more human beings (and more desirable, in my opinion, than other forms of interaction such as fighting). So by reading a collection of dialogues one can not only potentially learn about the topics covered by those conversations, but also about how to conduct a dialogue in a civilised manner; how to interact with other human beings in a way that is potentially beneficial for all.

By removing greetings and especially expressions of gratitude from questions, not only we seem to be striving at writing yet another wikipedia, but we are also failing to help future readers learn how to exchange information in a civilised manner in and outside SE.

Nevertheless, I do accept the guidelines on the subject so I will refrain from wishing you a good day.

  • 3
    But this is not a dialogue. It is a question, with an (or maybe more than one) answer. It is an exchange of information, pure and simple. That exchange should be civil, and out-and-out rudeness will certainly be dealt with, but pleasantries are not required. (a) They go without saying; (b) if you really need them, thank afterwards with votes. – Andrew Leach Jul 2 '17 at 10:04
  • Thanks, +1 Well, I'd say this orderly exchange of information you and I are having is indeed a dialogue. Still, one thing is "pleasantries are not required" and something else is "pleasantries will be removed"; the second can be read as "pleasantries are discouraged" and I don't see why pleasantries should be discouraged. Pleasantries don't go without saying, but I cannot illustrate the difference between a question with pleasantries and one without if they are systematically removed from questions. Explicit thanking and diluted upvoting aren't the same thing and they're not mutually exclusive – Carvo Loco Jul 2 '17 at 16:21
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    Please note @Carvo Loco that expressions of thanks (and all other 'pleasantries') are often edited out of Questions and Answers but we routinely express thanks (and even greetings) in comments, along with the exchange of explanations, requests for clarification, and additional information. Although comments are not strictly meant for expressing thanks, they are used as such by the community; and thus it is in comments and chat that EL & U members interact in the way you refer to. Oh how many dialogues occur in chat (or comments, later moved to chat!) That's why they're edited out of Qs and As. – English Student Jul 5 '17 at 17:45

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