11

I just saw more than one user copy-pasting a message on a lot of user's first answers, something like:

Hello, and welcome to Home Improvement. Thanks for the answer and keep them coming. And, you should probably take our tour so you'll know the details of contributing here

These types of robot-greetings are as polite a welcoming as the often ridiculed "Walmart greeter". Please stop pasting these templates, as they don't contain any new information they are just noise, and takes attention from the thousands of readers just trying to find the necessary answers.

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    Especially as they are often posted on answers that are frankly of relatively poor quality. – Peter Green Apr 16 at 18:46
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Comments are for requesting further information from the OP, not for gratuitous chat.

Simply saying 'welcome' is pointless.
Simply saying 'read the tour' on an on-topic question is patronizing and borderline insulting. Of course, it can be relevant to point out to a new user that the question is off-topic or low quality.

On the sites that I moderate, these comments often get flagged 'unfriendly or unkind'. Flags that I always accept.

Other SE sites have banned such comments: e.g.
https://webmasters.meta.stackexchange.com/q/1632/52977
Let us join them.

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    Perhaps we should add something to this effect to the tour... and whenever somebody posts such a message, refer them to the tour. ;-D – Michael Apr 18 at 16:28
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I am a strong supporter of seeing these cut and paste messages to new users go away as well. The mechanical nature of seeing them over and over again makes them very annoying and it is hard to believe that they are in any general way welcoming to new users.

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I'm mixed on them

Canned comments can be useful (I use some myself) in helping users. Pointing new users to the help pages. And the person who posts these most often is arguably one of the most helpful people on the site.

That having been said, few people are likely to read these. I would say (since a mod has weighed in) that they should be flagged as No Longer Needed so they can be deleted.

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  • Feature request: comments that delete themselves in 3 days. How to be welcoming to new users is asked all the time. 'Keep em coming' is the only thing to say imo. Relevant, but noise; not data. So the system should be able to handle it automatically (or I get to pick when it's a 'grenade'). It should be running searches for all these 'robos' and just delete them (after 3 days). Asking people to stop doing something has to be done in perpetuity. Doing something about what people will do anyway is a computer's job. – Mazura Apr 22 at 23:37
  • Post that on Meta.SE – Machavity Apr 23 at 0:38
4

I'd prefer they be targeted. The mere absence of a bronze badge does not mean a person needs to take the tour...

... But let's face it, some people really do need to take the tour...

Of course, now we're essentially "judging" those people who need help participating in the community.

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Cmments for beginners might make them feel more welcome...which can be a big deal at SE it's easy for downvotes to make new users feel like dirt. That being said they are annoying for "followers" years later so I'm torn...

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    Good point' it's not a robo to the newuser! They're not sick of it yet! – Harper - Reinstate Monica Apr 21 at 16:15
  • We need comments that self destruct after t minus... :) I remember getting a greeting "hey, great first answer!" once on mechanics.se and it was very...supportive.. – rogerdpack Apr 21 at 16:18
-2

I feel I need to weigh in here, as I'm probably seen as one of the main "offenders" in this regard.

The objection to the use of canned greetings seems to be that it's annoying to long-time users. Well, sorry: you all aren't who these comments are for. These comments are for the new users who have stumbled into our midst, generally with good will, but with very little idea of how we expect them to behave, and as such they often behave in ways we feel are inappropriate. That said, new users are the lifeblood of this (and other) stacks; if we can't encourage and keep new users, then we'll wither away. These new users also haven't seen the same greeting again and again, so they aren't yet as jaded as some of present company.

The other side of the coin is that, like others, I've put a lot of time into reviewing new users' posts on SE Home Improvement. It's important work, not only to be friendly to new users but to redirect and (if necessary) flag bad actors. It's also important that it be efficient. To date I've reviewed close to 24 thousand posts. Let's say I write custom messages and spend thirty seconds on each, that would take over a month at 40 hours/week. Sorry: no can do.

So, I use AutoReviewComments, and tweak the wording so as to be welcoming and helpful. New users' reactions have generally been quite positive; they are grateful to be told they're welcome, that they're doing fine (or how they're not), and where the Customer Service counter is.

So, these comments are clearly useful and generally welcomed by new users. For older users who get annoyed by them, all I can say is that I'm sorry you're find them so cloying, but I'm confused as to why you care enough to complain. And, if you feel you can do better, then please dive on in and review some posts.

P.S. Here's my AutoReviewComments configuration for DIY:

###[A] Adding question as an answer
If you'll take a couple of minutes to [take the tour](//$SITEURL$/tour) and read the help center, you'll note that this is a Question & Answer board, not your run-of-the-internet discussion forum. As it stands, you've asked a **Question** by posting it in the box marked **Answer**. Now there's nowhere for someone to answer your question. Please feel free to [ask a whole new question](//$SITEURL$/questions/ask) - nobody will think poorly of you for doing so.

###[Q] XXXX, please take tour
[type here] And, you should probably [take our tour](//$SITEURL$/tour) so you'll know you'll know the details of contributing here.

###[Q] Shopping Question
Unfortunately, "shopping" questions are off-topic here. Please [take our tour](//$SITEURL$/tour) so you'll know how best to participate here.

###[Q] Opinion-based
Unfortunately, any answer to this question will be a matter of opinion. Please [take our tour](//$SITEURL$/tour) so you'll know how best to participate here.

###[Q] Accept your answer; take tour
If an answer is helpful, please click the large check mark next to it to accept. And, please [take our tour](//$SITEURL$/tour) so you'll know the details of contributing here.

###[Q] Need more info
Unfortunately, we'll need more info before we have any chance of helping you. Please [take our tour](//$SITEURL$/tour) so you'll know how best to participate here.

###[Q] More than one question asked
It is preferred if you can post separate questions instead of combining your questions into one. That way, it helps the people answering your question and also others hunting for at least one of your questions. Thanks!

###[A] XXXX, take our tour
[type here] And, you should probably [take our tour](//$SITEURL$/tour) so you'll know how best to contribute here.

###[A] Good answer
Thanks for the answer; keep 'em coming. And, you should probably [take our tour](//$SITEURL$/tour) so you'll know the details of contributing here.

###[A] Answers just to say Thanks!
Please don't add "thanks" as answers. Invest some time in the site and you will gain sufficient [privileges](//$SITEURL$/privileges) to upvote answers you like, which is the $SITENAME$ way of saying thank you. And, you should probably [take our tour](//$SITEURL$/tour) so you'll know how best to contribute here.

###[A] Nothing but a URL (and isn't spam)
Whilst this may theoretically answer the question, [it would be preferable](//meta.stackoverflow.com/q/8259) to include the essential parts of the answer here, and provide the link for reference.

###[A] Requests to OP for further information
This is really a comment, not an answer. With a bit more rep, [you will be able to post comments](//$SITEURL$/privileges/comment); in the meantime, please [take our tour](//$SITEURL$/tour) so you'll know how best to contribute here.

###[A] Interesting, but doesn't answer the question
This is interesting, but doesn't answer the original question. Please [take our tour](//$SITEURL$/tour) so you'll know how best to contribute here.

###[Q] OP now has two accounts
It looks like you now have two separate accounts; you should [request that they be merged](//$SITEURL$/help/merging-accounts). And, please [take our tour](//$SITEURL$/tour) so you'll know how best to contribute here.

###[A] OP now has two accounts
It looks like you now have two separate accounts; you should [request that they be merged](//$SITEURL$/help/merging-accounts). And, please [take our tour](//$SITEURL$/tour) so you'll know how best to contribute here.
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  • 2
    A couple of things: 1. The user won't get a notification for these comments if the post is deleted; they do get notified for the standard comments from the VLQ review dialog, so if you want to be helpful you should be using them instead. 2. I regularly see your comments on non-answers, but no "not an answer" flags to go with them; a NaA flag will push the post into the VLQ queue, where it can be dealt with as in my first point, so make sure to flag first, then consider if a comment is needed. – Niall C. Apr 30 at 14:23
  • Hi, @NiallC. By "VLQ review dialog", you mean the various review queues ("First Posts", "Low Quality Posts", etc)? I almost exclusively work through those, and flag appropriately. There are times when I think a post is marginal that I'll suggest it's off-topic in a comment, but not actually flag it, depending on other reviewers to take it up if need be. Or am I missing something? – Daniel Griscom Apr 30 at 14:42
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    Yikes! There's a moderator-only decoration next to a post that shows if it has (or had) any flags. TIL it's not displayed when looking at the post from the review queue history, so I apologize and take back my comment about flagging. The rest remains though -- use the standard comments from the dialog to ensure that the user gets notified. – Niall C. Apr 30 at 15:15
  • @NiallC. I use the review queue system, and I think I'm using it the way it's supposed to be. The only exception is when I flag something, and it asks "Do you want to leave a comment for the user?", in which case I generally don't because I've already added my own comment. Again, am I still missing something? (And thanks for the help; it's certainly more useful than just saying "your comments irritate me".) – Daniel Griscom Apr 30 at 15:41
  • Case in point: diy.stackexchange.com/a/192506/22 (post mentioned "Bunnings") has a "take the tour" comment from you but no flag. Again, flag first, then consider if a comment is needed. Pro-tip: when an unregistered user leaves a one-line ranty non-answer, leaving a comment is a waste of effort. – Niall C. May 12 at 2:37
  • @NiallC. I can't see the example as it's been (I expect properly) deleted. And, strictly speaking, you can't flag and then comment while reviewing, as the end result of flagging is (depending on the queue) being stepped to the next item to be reviewed. I generally try to be tolerant of newcomers, but I'll lower my flagging threshold a bit. (Thanks.) – Daniel Griscom May 12 at 10:51
  • @NiallC. Wait a minute. I just reviewed a ranty post, and I clearly remember marking it as should be closed due to not being an answer. Now I go back, and there's no flag. Is this what you mean by "not flagging when I should"? If so, I'm not sure what more I should do... – Daniel Griscom May 12 at 10:54
  • @NiallC. To be clear: after leaving my comment I clicked the "Should be closed" button, and chose the "Not an answer" reason in the subsequent dialog. – Daniel Griscom May 12 at 10:56

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