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DVK asked whether we should encourage or discourage posting generic “welcome comments”.

Based on the positive response to my answer here suggesting that they should be firmly discouraged, I would like to propose;

  1. That as a community we should make efforts to flag any messages of this kind:

    "Welcome to SF:SE"
    "Welcome to SF:SE, take the tour for an easy badge"
    "Hi and welcome to stack exchange. If you want an easy badge simply take the tour ;)"
    "Hi and welcome to our community :)"

  2. That moderators should firmly discourage this behaviour when they encounter it.

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    Whatever the official policy on this, welcome messages are very encouraging to new users. In fact, perhaps that's part of why the site "isn't very welcoming." – Adamant May 13 '18 at 16:01
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    @Adamant - The consensus of opinion is that welcome messages aren't actually that welcoming. They can come across as a little creepy, condescending, borderline patronising and give OP a false impression that the commenter is some sort of site authority. They also tend to be used by wannabe mods to create site presence. If you want to welcome people, that's fine but do so in a way that adds useful content like advising them how to improve their question rather than just adding worthless chatter to the site. – Valorum May 13 '18 at 16:21
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    The consensus of opinion is not something I agree with. I've very rarely seen them poorly received, and they're sometimes well-received. Can you show me one user who said that they found a welcome message directed at them disturbing? The people who don't want welcome messages have generally been those who think it's "noise." But it's less "noise" than "very well, thank you" added to every post that begins with "how." – Adamant May 13 '18 at 16:30
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    The CMs themselves said it: we need to rethink our policy on things like this. – Adamant May 13 '18 at 16:34
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    @Adamant As of yet, though, it's still unclear how much of that general statement was just quick throwaway ideas on a perceived problem and how much leads to actual genuine policy reconsideration from SE's side. – TARS May 13 '18 at 16:50
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    @Adamant How exactly would you expect to see them poorly received? The best way of "poorly receiving" a comment is to flag it (not e.g. to make an argument out of it in further comments), and I can tell you that I've seen a number of such comments flagged over the years. You're right that the "very well, thank you" comments are also noise - not constructive, could be construed as snarky, and a joke that's way past its sell-by date - so by all means flag them as well :-) – Rand al'Thor May 13 '18 at 18:55
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    @Rand'alThor - If a new user finds a comment condescending, they're probably a lot more likely to respond than to use an unfamiliar flagging system. I mentioned this because I suspect that concerns about welcome comments are mainly expressed by long-term users for reasons unrelated to "creepiness." – Adamant May 13 '18 at 19:00
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    The "welcome" that new users receive these days is often something like this: "Why would you think this?" "Voting to close for [reason that new user can't be expected to know]." Or just 5 unexplained downvotes, which of course the user doesn't know how to interpret. Is it any surprise that people can be confused or turned off? To the established users, the site means something very different from what it means to new users. – Adamant May 13 '18 at 19:02
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    @Randal'Thor - You don't need ", etc" if you're already said "of this kind". – Valorum May 13 '18 at 19:04
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    @Adamant - If you want to explain your downvotes/close votes, you go right ahead. I tend to but it often / invariably leads the user to act like it's a personal criticism. After a while it can be a bit wearing and you'll probably go back to drive-by downvotes. Most people seem to. – Valorum May 13 '18 at 19:05
  • The point being, we often show or tell people that they're doing things wrong, but not how. This can lead to some confusion. – Adamant May 13 '18 at 19:08
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    @Valorum That could be, at least in part, more due to the tone of your comments than an innate issue with commenting to explain downvotes. – Rand al'Thor May 13 '18 at 19:26
  • @Randal'Thor - We are at home to Mr. Manners (usually). – Valorum May 13 '18 at 19:36
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Yeah, go nuts flagging them. We'll delete the comments.

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Coming a little late to the discussion, but I personally have no issue with people posting the welcome messages, although I think it's also reasonable to remove them as "no longer needed" after a bit.

I generally post my welcome as part of my general new user "If this is the correct answer, you can accept it by clicking on the checkmark" or "To help prompt more details to help us help you, please visit this link and see what questions you can answer about your story-id question" comments. Presumably, when they're too stale as a "welcome, new user" comment, they're also too stale for the rest of it.

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    There's absolutely nothing wrong with welcoming a user in with a useful comment. The issue is people posting worthless comments that just say "welcome!" We need to distinguish between politeness and noise – Valorum May 14 '18 at 13:02
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    This seems the best option to me. And might I suggest, instead of waiting for flag-based deletion, the author of the comment could simply delete it after a day or two? – Simpleton May 14 '18 at 17:02
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    @Simpleton - Assuming they don't forget. – Valorum May 14 '18 at 19:12
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    I don't think they're noise -- they're a pleasant sound. The couple that I got when I was new are no longer needed, sure, but at the time they were very nice and made me more inclined to stick around. How is that "worthless"? – MissMonicaE May 15 '18 at 14:54
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While I don't particularly like generic welcome messages (and for the sake of disclosure I should say that I used to leave them for new users, I don't anymore, so I've been on both sides), I don't agree that we should begin flagging them for deletion. It's not because I love them, as I noted, but I have a few concerns about making this a blanket requirement.

  • What if the comment containing the welcome message also contains information explicitly relevant to the question? Do I want to delete that too? Personally, I do not. Relevant info to the question supersedes a generic welcome message.
  • We're never going to catch all of the welcome messages. Even if we have folks that read every single question that comes through the feed, some may disagree with a policy of flagging welcome messages and simply leave the question alone.
  • Our mods are very busy with the tasks they already have. Do we want to add a task that could (COULD) be high volume to their already full plates? I mean, if it were an extremely important issue, such as Should we flag profanity on the site?, that's one thing. But flagging welcome messages just seems like modly busy work. Most people do not like busy work. Perhaps one of the mods will speak to this issue themselves.

I think it's fine to discourage users from leaving welcome messages, if that is the community consensus, but to start expecting people to report welcome messages is out of the scope of the site's requirements.

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    Both DVK and I made it clear that this only applies to generic welcome comments, not those with useful content. – Valorum Jan 16 '15 at 18:11
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    On (1), if (as Richard) suggests, this only applies to generic comments, then there isn't a problem of lost information. As for (2), we don't need to catch them all, just enough to discourage the practice. I don’t know enough about the moderator’s existing workload to comment on (3). – alexwlchan Jan 16 '15 at 18:26
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    "What if the comment containing the welcome message also contains information explicitly relevant to the question? Do I want to delete that too?" is explicitly outside the scope of the discussion, as @Richard said – DVK-on-Ahch-To Jan 16 '15 at 18:27
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    "We're never going to catch all of the welcome messages" - no we won't - but we will catch plenty because we see them on both New Posts queue results when reviewing AND on recent posts list. – DVK-on-Ahch-To Jan 16 '15 at 18:27
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    "Our mods are very busy with the tasks they already have. Do we want to add a task that could (COULD) be high volume to their already full plates?" - most of the welcome spam comes from very few users. A couple of polite requests from mods should bring the volume down drastically. – DVK-on-Ahch-To Jan 16 '15 at 18:28
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    @DVK - If the mods are too busy, that doesn't mean they need to do less modding, it means we need more moderators! – Valorum Jan 16 '15 at 18:31
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I agree with both of these suggestions;

  1. We should begin flagging these sorts of comments ASAP.
  2. Moderators should firmly discourage users from posting these kinds of comments.
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    While you have indeed raised a valid point that this stance is only for welcome comments without any other useful comment, I can't help but think that this is a trivial issue. One welcome comment per question per new user does make much 'noise'. And when I lurked on SE before registering as a user, I've seen a lot of comments degenerate into nasty fights, particularly in posts having a net negative score. To counter the negative perception of hostility and rudeness to new users, maybe welcome comments are... necessary? – Simpleton May 14 '18 at 16:59
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    @Simpleton - The system already welcomes you, suggests you take the tour and read the FAQ. Per my earlier post, there's also the concern that they can be very easily misread as a chastisement, that they can seem a bit creepy ("Who is this person and why are they messaging me?"), that they're basically a form of spam for wannabe moderators and that they encourage other forms of low-value comments as well as giving a false impression that the commenter is some sort of welcome wagon or site moderator. – Valorum May 14 '18 at 17:12

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