I have been removing these types of things everywhere I have seen them because I think they get in the way of the primary purpose of this site: getting complete and accurate answers to questions.

It has been brought to my attention recently that some people like to have these kind of things to give the site a more friendly atmosphere.

What do you think?

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Could you edit please and remove the "What do you think?" - it's completely irrelevant and simply a polite nicety that doesn't need to be there. –  Kieren Johnstone Feb 1 '12 at 17:37
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@Kieren Since this is a meta site, it does allow for more of a discussion, thus the "discussion" tag. The question without the "What do you think?" would generate more Yes and No type answers, where I am more interested in the thoughts behind those answers. –  Friend Of George Feb 1 '12 at 18:23
    
Upvoting on meta questions is pretty vague. I think it often means "Good question!" unless there's a clear yes or no inherent in the question. Had it read "I think we should edit away these things" then we could agree by upvoting, but that's clearly not appropriate here. –  Neil Fein Feb 1 '12 at 22:59
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5 Answers

up vote 6 down vote accepted

I think:

These things belong in the comments, but don't edit it unless you're truly improving the question

I've never seen a big problem with these since they and generally aren't conversations - they're one-off asides, basically polite noise, and there isn't much of it on any given question. Now, asides are what comments are for, so I think the general rule should be: Substance goes in questions and answers, asides go in comments.

But when this rule is broken, I don't think it's worth removing the sentiment, unless you're already making as substantive edit. Ideally we could just convert the polite bit at the end to a comment, but I don't believe we have this ability right now.

I actually do like seeing people being polite and appreciative, and the comments are great for that. Comments like this one are pleasing even though technically they aren't adding anything - although if there were too many of them, it'd be a problem. Personally, I usually just upvote or accept and move on, although I'll speak up when I'm already commenting to clarify something.

Now, that said, any kind of conversational back-and-forth should be edited right out. We have comments and chat for that and it directly detracts from the goal of getting solid, time-testable answers to good questions, which I have always seen as Stack Exchange's purpose. If a question is really a discussion-opener without the possibility of authoritative answers, it doesn't really fit here. Likewise, if something is kind of annoying ("hello" annoys me since it feels like we're starting a conversation, which we aren't) then I think it should be edited out.

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+1 I bow to your superior wisdom :) After thinking about it a bit, I have to agree that editing a question just to remove these things is a bit obsessive. I'll refrain from doing so in the future unless I am already editing the question for another reason. @Kieren Sorry to have offended you. –  Friend Of George Feb 1 '12 at 22:20
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This is not a forum, it's a Q&A site. This means that Stack Exchange questions are clearly not a conversation between asker and answerer, but a system to generate a reference work.

Therefore, not only is removing salutations and "thanks" a good idea, but doing this is Stack Exchange's clearly preferred practice. To an extent, some of this is automatically done. The system removes salutations at posting time.

Edit:

I think I need to clarify this further.

I really think that part of the problem is that some people are working under the assumption that pages on the main sites are conversations, and that's just not the case. Maybe this will help:

The point of Stack Exchange is to make the internet better. We want these sites to be the first Google result when you search on a question, and for people to say "Ah! A Stack Exchange page! When I go there, I'll see the best, most reliable answers voted to the top of the page, and I can find my answer quickly and reliably."

To that end, we're constructing Q&A threads, and the answers that have been voted to the top are the ones people on the site feel are best. Having to wade through "Thanks" and other conversational stuff makes it more difficult for future visitors to get to the information.

However, people are going to want to talk, and politeness is in of itself a virtue. That's why we have comments: If you feel a question requires a courtesy, then by all means use the comments for that.

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It doesn't need to be a conversation, but why remove a simple, short occasional courtesy that reminds us that someone is dedicating their effort, cares about their answer, and attempting to be human? –  Kieren Johnstone Feb 1 '12 at 18:59
    
I've updated my answer to address this. –  Neil Fein Feb 1 '12 at 22:54
    
Kieren, I'm not saying you're wrong, simply that this isn't the Stack Exchange way. (Which I happen to agree with.) These attitudes are not unique to this site, they've filtered down from the network itself. If you want to change them, I suggest you go to Meta Stack Overflow and chime in there. Maybe you'll be able to make a difference on that level! –  Neil Fein Feb 1 '12 at 22:57
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These things belong in the comments.

The best way to show thanks to someone answering your question is to accept the answer.

I like to see comments on answers where the person asking the question lets the person answering know that the solution worked, or which particular part of the answer helped them most. This type of comment is helpful to others with the same question because it lets them know that the solution given is worth trying because it worked for someone else.

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I agree with you, but I think we should be less enthusiastic about our edits. See my answer for more detail. –  Warrior Bob Feb 1 '12 at 20:52
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My two cents. While yes, this is a Q&A site with the intention of building a huge knowledge base of other people's learning experiences, it doesn't hurt to be polite, and in my mind, really helps build a sense of community. Often, I'll read a question from someone that shows that a.) they're clueless, but b.) they're smart enough to say "Hey, I need help!" To me, those are the folks who will end up being moderators in five years. Is it worth alientating a shy, first time filmmaker who puts a "Thanks!" at the end of his question to reprimand her for trying to be polite? Is it worth alienating an experienced enthusiastic producer just because a moderator deletes "Good luck!" from the end of a post? I don't think so, especially when we're trying to promote community growth.

To dismiss general politeness as inappropriate seems as fruitless as not saying thanks to someone holding a door open for you because you're at work instead of a gratitude convention.

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It's pointless being a nazi about people being too polite in answers when the site is struggling to get any input as it is.

Oh. Maybe I should make my text incredibly big so it's more important.

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You're missing the point. Stack Exchange is not a forum, and threads on the main site are not conversations. –  Neil Fein Feb 1 '12 at 18:18
    
It's stunning to me that it's not seen as incredibly rude to look at someone who has constructed an answer, for free, based on their own hard work, and adds a small, "Hope that helps" to have that removed by a moderator not even because in that individual case it detracts from the answer. Meh - –  Kieren Johnstone Feb 1 '12 at 19:04
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There's no need to be sarcastic. Large text is often used to summarize a point quickly, especially on meta. Please feel to use it or not, whatever makes your answer the clearest. –  Warrior Bob Feb 1 '12 at 19:42
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@KierenJohnstone It's stunning to me that some users think site policies are for lesser mortals and don't apply to them –  Michael Mrozek Feb 3 '12 at 18:10
    
It's stunning to me that site policies are to remove politeness. I don't think it shouldn't apply to me, I think it's a stupid policy. Obviously. –  Kieren Johnstone Feb 3 '12 at 18:48
    
And it's stunning to me that removing polite words from a post is being compared to being a Nazi. Since we're mentioning what's stunning. –  msh210 Feb 5 '12 at 17:17
    
You aren't familiar with the term grammar nazi? –  Kieren Johnstone Feb 5 '12 at 17:31
    
Well, yeah, I am. I wouldn't have said it was stunning (it's actually disturbing but not surprising (stunning)), except that that was the term you and @MichaelMrozek had used. Incidentally, for the future, if you address a comment to someone other than the post's author you should include @username in it so the addressee gets an alert as to the existence of your reply. –  msh210 Feb 5 '12 at 17:53
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