I noticed that this question was edited only to remove the "thank you" and signature at the end of the question. This caught my attention so I looked at the history of edits from the user, and it appeared they did a series of similar edits. Some of them only consist in removing a word (like here), sometimes with the addition of a formatting markup (like here).

I don't mean to point fingers, this just happens to be one I noticed. However I would like to know what is the consensus regarding the following two questions.

1. What is our policy on "Hi", "Thank you" and similar opening or closing words?

Originally this has been considered "noise" on StackOverflow, but this seems to have gone to some extremes (see this discussion or this case) and it has drawn a lot of criticism recently. I couldn't find a definite answer, but in the recent post on the official blog, they did recognize this problem:

Stack Overflow Isn’t Very Welcoming. It’s Time for That to Change.

Maybe it’s time we re-visited things like our “no pleases or thank yous’” rule. (It serves a valuable purpose by keeping signal high, but also suggests that we just might be Zuckerbots who aren’t even trying very hard to pass as actual humans).

2. Assuming the edits are consistent with this Q&A policies, are they still ok?

Edits have a "cost", in the sense that as a user, seeing your own question or answer edited for little (or no) added value can be an annoyance. In turn, this affects how the entire Q&A platform is perceived by users.

So where do we draw the line in sand, between rigidly enforcing guidelines and rules, and leaving posts as-is?

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    $\begingroup$ Thanks for raising this. I currently try to follow the guidance from elsewhere on SE, and remove thanks provided it's not an old post with nothing else to edit, but I often wonder if that might seem unwelcoming. I'd love to see discussion and consensus here, so I can follow the decision of this community rather than the average decision of other communities. $\endgroup$ Dec 24, 2018 at 21:40
  • $\begingroup$ Where I do remove thanks, I try to leave a neutral edit message. To me, the edit message on one of the example edits, referring to the word thanks as "idle chatter", seems unwelcoming. $\endgroup$ Dec 24, 2018 at 21:44

1 Answer 1


I would tend to say:

  • It's fine for the platform to indicate that a question or answer doesn't need salutations and other politeness forms;
  • But enforcing the absence of them is nonsensical.

These are the tools used by newcomers to approach a community they are not a part of. Removing them from their posts without notice while they are not familiar with the website yet sends a message that is confusing at best, and hostile at worst. If this happens on a question that has no useful answer yet, it also sends the signal that the community cares more about form and rules than content and helping.

Moreover, even assuming that we decide to edit salutations out, my personal opinion is that an edit needs an added value above a certain threshold to out-weight its cost. There are some people who are valuable to this community, and who might not know the rules well (because their expertise is CG, not SE). Such people may consider that they don't have time to play the "respect the norm" game and just walk away when such behavior happens.

For that reason, I don't think that small edits just for the sake of enforcing guidelines are worth it. Where I would draw the line, is readability and clarity. In that regard the examples in the links were perfectly understandable and readable without them, and those aspects were not improved by the edits.

In general I feel pretty strongly about small edits to enforce form. It has driven me away from another SE website where nearly every post was edited by one user, and I would prefer this behavior to not be encouraged over here.

P.S.: Additional food for thought: https://meta.stackoverflow.com/questions/333065/a-moderator-messaged-me-that-my-edits-which-only-remove-thanks-and-alike-are-d/333096#333096

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    $\begingroup$ It should be noted that there is a difference between edits which have to be reviewed and edits made by users who have the unreviewed editing rights. We don't want to waste reviewers' time on trivial removals of salutations (especially since such edits being approved "earns" them rep), but those who don't need review can remove them as they see fit. $\endgroup$ Jan 31, 2019 at 19:53
  • $\begingroup$ @NicolBolas Thank you for the input. You're right, I didn't think of that case. $\endgroup$ Feb 1, 2019 at 3:53
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    $\begingroup$ "they don't have time to play the "respect the norm" game" - That's the point, you don't have to play any "games" here, you don't even have to care about form at all, because there's helpful users who edit your posts into shape for you and you get these edits absolutely for free by the beauty of collaborative improvment this site thrives on. An edit is not a reprimand. $\endgroup$ Feb 4, 2019 at 15:32
  • $\begingroup$ The solution to overattachment to your own writing and feeling personally insulted by other people improving your posts isn't to stop improving the posts on this site. And if your problem lies in a single user doing all these edit for whatever reason, then the key to that would be to encourage more users to engage in improving edits. $\endgroup$ Feb 4, 2019 at 15:32

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