Do we need people editing other people's posts to remove "Thanks", thereby bumping old questions.

Saying thanks, and people leaving it, is a popular practice at some sites such as stats.meta.SE: What's the site policy on removing text such as “thank you”, or “This question is too easy”.

I don't think we need that here, but at Meta.SE: Should 'Hi', 'thanks', taglines, and salutations be removed from posts? removals seem advised.

Some recent examples by one eager beaver:

  1. https://or.stackexchange.com/posts/4603/revisions

  2. https://or.stackexchange.com/posts/2779/revisions

  3. https://or.stackexchange.com/posts/2741/revisions

  4. https://or.stackexchange.com/posts/5030/revisions

Can we not have superfluous text added in the first place, nor remove it long after the fact. Don't create extra work, and don't dig up old posts with trivial edits.

  • 3
    $\begingroup$ Removing "Thanks" and other pleasantries is standard practice across Stack Exchange, for better or for worse. You're welcome to express your preference one way or another (and others are too, of course) but I don't think we can or should outlaw the practice if folks want to do it. $\endgroup$ Commented Oct 22, 2020 at 18:36
  • 3
    $\begingroup$ Related recent discussion on Meta Stack Exchange: Why do we allow other users to edit our posts? $\endgroup$
    – Glorfindel
    Commented Oct 22, 2020 at 18:53
  • $\begingroup$ In my examples, a single user edited a flurry of very old posts, bumping them to the top, just to remove "Thanks". Does this reduce clutter and noise on the forum? I have seen on some other Stack Exchange mathematical sciences sites where a user edits a large number, sometimes > 25 in one batch, of old posts apparently on a topic of interest to them, in order to bump them to the top - and the edits consist of removing "Thanks" and the like - in my view, that is an abuse. I don't think we want to go in that direction - at least i don't want to. $\endgroup$ Commented Oct 22, 2020 at 20:15
  • $\begingroup$ See: Trivial edits can be rejected, and search in this answer for this text: "Is there a minimum change threshold for a suggested edit?". If you are a Reviewer you can reject for 'no improvement whatsoever' or a custom reason objecting to a trivial edit bumping an old post; especially so many. But, if they have permission it would be wrong to go and roll it back (also bumping it). Such need for these edits should be caught by the vigilant community and be made early in the post's lifetime. $\endgroup$
    – Rob
    Commented Oct 22, 2020 at 21:03
  • $\begingroup$ I'm not asking for a rollback. But I'd rather not have this type of "thing" on this site. $\endgroup$ Commented Oct 22, 2020 at 21:11
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ @Rob "Such need for these edits should be caught by the vigilant community and be made early in the post's lifetime" Consider me a vigilant member of the community bringing this matter to the attention of others. $\endgroup$ Commented Oct 22, 2020 at 21:14
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ I'd really rather someone not edit my question with substantive changes without consulting me, as was just done to this question (believe me, I am restraining myself from writing my unfettered feelings on what was just done). If someone has something substantive to say about my question, they should make a comment or provide an answer. $\endgroup$ Commented Oct 22, 2020 at 23:16
  • $\begingroup$ The question now does NOT say what I wrote. Talk about editing run amok. $\endgroup$ Commented Oct 22, 2020 at 23:23
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ I have the same concern. I check for new questions (or answers) once a day using RSS, and trivial edits result in my seeing copious questions that are neither new nor have new answers (or even comments). If we can convince the site not to treat edits as major changes (and specifically not add them to the RSS feed), dandy. Otherwise, can we discourage the practice? This isn't a book. As long as minor goofs in the question do not make it unintelligible, I don't think they need fixing. As for removing pleasantries, is they really an issue? SE has an official policy against politeness?? $\endgroup$
    – prubin Mod
    Commented Oct 22, 2020 at 23:59
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Eager beaver here, reporting for duty. Just acknowledging your post and all comments. Will respond later when I get a chance. Look forward to the discussion. $\endgroup$ Commented Oct 28, 2020 at 13:48
  • $\begingroup$ @SecretAgentMan Look at the first version in the edit history of my post in order to see my thoughts on this, rather than some bastardized version which does NOT reflect my views. $\endgroup$ Commented Oct 28, 2020 at 18:59
  • $\begingroup$ @MarkL.Stone I saw your original version and provided a response below. Please see below the line. You are right about too many too quickly, and that's on me. $\endgroup$ Commented Oct 29, 2020 at 2:32
  • $\begingroup$ @MarkL.Stone I trust you've seen my answer. Does this at least address your concerns over my edits? "Don't create extra work" is covered since I didn't (I have full edit privileges). I think my suggested guidelines cover that and "don't dig up old posts with trivial edits." Your thoughts? $\endgroup$ Commented Nov 3, 2020 at 1:41
  • $\begingroup$ I think the Stack Exchange policy of disallowing pleasantries is stupid; nevertheless I am willing to accept it. Digging up old posts for the sole purpose of removing pleasantries, and thereby bumping them to the top is real stupid. Doing that in large batches is very counterproductive in my opinion. Stack Exchange wants to be welcoming to new posters - so how do we do that - downvote the h€ll out of their initial post if it has some stylistic deficiency, and remove any pleasantries their post might have had - way to make them feel welcome. BTW, the downvote on your answer is not from me. $\endgroup$ Commented Nov 3, 2020 at 2:05
  • $\begingroup$ @MarkL.Stone I feel my suggested guidance below contains the essence of most of your position. If you have suggestions for how to improve the guidance, I'd welcome your thoughts. As to the DV, no worries. That's what Meta is for! $\endgroup$ Commented Nov 3, 2020 at 14:31

1 Answer 1



As Oded's answer points out,

Anything that is not relevant to the question/post is noise and should be removed.

Irrelevant text can harm a question's readability and detract from the long term purpose of the site.

Removing "Hi", "Thanks", "Appreciating any help", etc. makes questions more valuable for their future readers by making them look less like problems that only happen to their askers. (source)

The Over-Meta has a lot to say on this topic. The Expected Behavior help page states:

Do not use signature, taglines, greetings, thanks, or other chitchat.

Every post you make is already “signed” with your standard user card, which links directly back to your user page. Your user page belongs to you, so fill it with information about your interests, links to stuff you’ve worked on, or whatever else you like!

Thanks and other statements of appreciation are unnecessary, and, like other chitchat, should not be included.

If you use signatures, taglines, greetings, thanks, or other chitchat, they will be removed to reduce noise in the questions and answers.

A other few highlights...

Meta SO has similar community standards in place to protect the quality of the site and maximize utility for future visitors. Some highlights...

Guidelines when removing fluff: (1, 2, 3)

  1. Do not remove context.
  2. Fix everything. Don't leave other errors in place.
  3. Do not suggest an edit that requires a review for fluff alone. These should be rejected as superfluous as suggesting minor edits imparts extra work for reviewers. Users with editing privileges should strive to complete minor edits with more substantive or holistic edits, but minor edits from these users alone are not abusive.
  4. Avoid minor edits en masse. Users with editing privileges should be mindful that repeated minor edits bumps questions to the top of the activity list. Avoid this unless the post is already at or near the top of the activity list.

As pointed out by @MichaelT's comment (source),

The politeness expressed by "hope this helps", "thank you" and "hello" is all similarly problematic in technical writing. Stack Overflow, as a Q&A site, strives to be a technical resource akin to encyclopedias. That writing style that makes it useful as a technical resource precludes pleasantries and formalities. Even in cultures with formalized pleasantries and courtesies, one doesn't see such pleasantries in the technical writing. The reason for removing "thank you" is exactly the same as the reason that "hope this helps" isn't at the bottom of every Wikipedia page.

Assume every OP is thankful and appreciates the help.

If you want to express gratitude, then upvote the helpful content and accept an answer for your question when it resolves your question. Answers that receive upvotes move up and get more attention.

Response to Mark L. Stone:
I acknowledge Mark L. Stone's comment about the flurry of edits and take responsibility for that (see also his original question). Indeed, my edits were completed on Oct 22 at 2:11, 2:24, and 2:25 for three of those revisions. The other was Oct 15 (~1 week earlier). I will work to do better on that point and avoid bumping many questions at once.

To be clear, I view my edits individually as acceptable since I generated no work for reviewers. However, three (3) of them collectively were done very close together, which bumped them to the top of the activity list; this was unacceptable.

Picture of beaver with text "Not Acceptable"

Image refers to high frequency of minor edits only


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