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The first time I made a positive contribution to Wikipedia (years ago), within minutes a senior user left a comment on my user page welcoming me to the community and thanking me for my contribution. He also told me to contact him any time if I ever need help or clarifications. As a result, I felt like contributing more, and I avoided a number of newcomer gaffes.

Should we have something like that here? Sometimes, I notice that the first experience a newcomer has here is to have older users tell them that their question is off topic or poorly phrased. Some of them may only get around to reading the policies in detail after a few day of participation. So, shouldn't we help them avoid submitting poor questions/answers?

Copied over from this Ask the moderator candidates question.

8

I don't think there should be a "welcome to SE" comment.

Recently a user has been adding welcome comments to many new users. Here is an example:

Hi and welcome to stack exchange :) I recommend you take the tour and visit the help center. Have fun with us!

The intent is obviously benign, but when I first saw this, I assumed that the OP had done something wrong and that the commenter was trying to gently/subtly tell them that they should first take the tour before making posts to avoid such errors.

Many people can contribute and post questions without ever taking the tour or visiting the help center, and suggesting that they do so might scare them off. SE is not the first forum, and much of the information in the tour/help center is common sense.

So in this case, I don't think these comments are appropriate. While I laud the intent and effort put into them to try to welcome new users, I think it might be more off-putting than welcoming.

Anyone else have thoughts on this?

  • 3
    Hmmmm, I've always liked those friendly, welcoming messages. – Reinstate Monica - Goodbye SE Jan 7 '15 at 18:42
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    I agree with Trenin on this; the first several times I saw these comments I looked back at the answer to reread it to see if I missed something downvote-worthy. Took a week or two before I realized it was just copypasta and didn't mean anything. – Izkata Jan 7 '15 at 18:46
  • @Izkata: oh, thanks for the clarification. So it's not the welcome that is the issue but the wording. – Reinstate Monica - Goodbye SE Jan 7 '15 at 18:55
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    {nods} Something very similar is used for the automatic text for flagged questions, I think. Either that or it's the same copy-pasting. – FuzzyBoots Jan 7 '15 at 19:55
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    I'm in full agreement, if for no other reason than that it looks like a formal message from a moderator, something that could potentially confuse new arrivals. – Valorum Jan 7 '15 at 20:31
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    @Wikis I thought it was great as well cause when it happen to me I did not start shaking and looking for a mistake.. I simply recognised that I was new on this community manage site and that I had to adapt on the way things are gooing here... but, with 8 billion people on our poor planet some of them have to be stressed and easily irritated – Rocket Jan 7 '15 at 21:05
  • Don't new users automatically get something like this on initial registration anyway? It's been a while, but I'm almost certain. – user8719 Jan 7 '15 at 23:19
  • @Rocket: thanks, good to know, especially since - as a recently new user - you are speaking from experience. – Reinstate Monica - Goodbye SE Jan 8 '15 at 4:25
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    @DarthSatan All I had to do was to click on my facebook profile and voila I was registered.. I knew about the tour because I had learn about the Badges by myself, i decided to go and see the requirement to get badges, and this is how I've learn about the "Informed" bronze badge that you get once you have completed the tour ... I say this in comment to new user so they could have an easy Badge... SORRY ABOUT THAT .. new user do like me and search the site :( sorry about trying to help! – Rocket Jan 8 '15 at 5:35
  • @Rocket As we said in chat, no one is chastising you for trying to help. Some of us just think that the wording could use a bit of work, as to not inadvertently give the impression that the new user did something wrong. If you're happy with your wording as-is, that's cool too (at least by me, mods may say differently). – phantom42 Jan 8 '15 at 12:47
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    I'm with Izkata and Trenin on this. When I read that welcome message I then look through the question to see what was wrong with it. Perhaps because it calls attention to the tour. – Gorchestopher H Jan 8 '15 at 22:04
  • I think that as established users we get the sense that it is a chastising message, but as a new user, who knows that this is their first post, and they receive a positive and informative message would take it as that and not a negative one. This is because the trend until recently has been to only post such comments when someone has done wrong, which is why as established users we immediately think that its a warning message of some sort... But hopefully the trend can change towards posting positive initial messages. – Möoz Jan 12 '15 at 3:50
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OK, color me naïve, but the welcome to new users should be:

  1. The use they get out of the site - thoughtful, engaging questions and brilliant, in-depth answers.

  2. Proper recognition of their good work (when they post good work) via upvotes - personally, I'm a LOT likelier to upvote a good answer/Q from a new user than from an established one, specifically to show them that the game's worth playing and there are them rewards in good job being done.

  3. Gentle steering towards how to improve the work that isn't good - good-natured comments and edits; edits ought to probably come with comments explaining what was wrong and how to fix it next time if the extent of the edit warrants it.

  • thx for this answer :) – Rocket Jan 7 '15 at 18:21
1

Hmmm... I've made contributions to the Wikipedia and never received any messages from anyone. Guess they like you better than they like me!

Seriously, one issue with reaching out to new users is SE is designed to not be a social media site, so the only real way to communicate is in chat (since chatty comments are deleted).

We might consider allowing something like a "Welcome to SE" comment on some early posts by new people, or the moderators sending them an email (but some people don't want emails from every site they join and poste on), but other than posting a "Welcome to SE, @Newperson" message in chat, hoping they might stop by when receiving it so we can chat with them, I don't see that, within the current structure, there's much else we can do.

  • 1
    Ugh, no, please, no “welcome to SE” comments. They show the wrong example, and they can backfire (when I first participated in SE, I wasn't interested in any social side at all, I just wanted to contribute answers, and such a comment would have given me a feeling of being watched and might have scared me away). – user56 Jan 31 '12 at 22:20
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    I agree that we should not do this in comments. But there has to be some way in which we can help new users avoid newcomer gaffes rather than pointing it out once they make them. – HNL Feb 1 '12 at 4:18
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    @HNL the best way to learn from mistakes is to make them. – OghmaOsiris Feb 1 '12 at 8:11
  • I think the initial message sent to a new user should be worded very carefully, as the wrong tone could cause the user to feel unwelcome or even leave the site altogether. – maguirenumber6 Apr 20 '16 at 5:39

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