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A recent answer ended with two social pleasantries: "Hope it is clear. Have a good day!"

I commented that "Answers on this site, like questions, should not contain chit-chat. Just the physics is sufficient."

Another user disagreed, commenting that "There's a clear difference between 'chit-chat' and basic politeness, which is what this answer contains. Your culture may not value politeness, but many cultures do."

In a brief back-and-forth, my arguments against such pleasantries were

  • The Tour says “This site is all about getting answers. It's not a discussion forum. There's no chit-chat.”

  • There is a post on the mother Meta addressing this issue: Should 'Hi', 'thanks', taglines, and salutations be removed from posts?

  • This site aims to be like a physics encyclopedia in Q&A format. Encyclopedia articles do not end with “Have a good day!” or “Hope it is clear”.

  • I routinely edit questions and answers to remove pleasantries, and such edits have never been rejected by reviewers.

The other user argued that

  • "Site policy on politeness is very clear: 'Always be polite and have fun’. Politeness is not 'chit-chat'.”

Since we reached opposite conclusions after reading the available guidance (is there more somewhere?), I conclude that the guidance isn't clear.

So what is our policy on pleasantries in questions and answers, or what should it be?

I've created two black-and-white opposing answers for voting. If something thinks that the issue requires nuance, please add more answers.

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    $\begingroup$ For users who are wondering why I didn't simply edit out the pleasantries as I've done many times: I prefer letting users know the guidance (or at least what I understood it to be) rather than having to edit their work. $\endgroup$
    – Ghoster
    Commented May 8 at 19:24
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    $\begingroup$ I consider it fair to ask you why the insistence on this issue? Ideally, I think social pleasentries should be omitted, but I won't go out of my way to edit people's posts if they contain them. Of course, each one chooses how to engage with the community, as well as improving it, but are we really doing something of substance by editing out these comments? At best, the point of the post in question remains practically the same, and at worst the affected user may deem it hostile or unwelcoming. I don't see that as an improvement overall. $\endgroup$
    – R. M.
    Commented May 12 at 18:34
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    $\begingroup$ @R.M. I don’t agree that asking what our policy is, or should be, is “insisting” on anything. If the consensus ends up being that we should have no policy at all, that’s fine with me. $\endgroup$
    – Ghoster
    Commented May 12 at 20:32
  • $\begingroup$ Fair. However, in my opinion, this issue doesn't merit this sort of attention, but to each their own. $\endgroup$
    – R. M.
    Commented May 12 at 20:34
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    $\begingroup$ @R.M. You should downvote the question then, in addition to voting on answers. $\endgroup$
    – Ghoster
    Commented May 12 at 20:37
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    $\begingroup$ Related: physics.meta.stackexchange.com/q/360/174766 and physics.stackexchange.com/help/behavior $\endgroup$ Commented May 13 at 17:55
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    $\begingroup$ The official position is not to use them and edit out if needed. $\endgroup$ Commented May 13 at 18:00
  • $\begingroup$ @VincentThacker Thanks. It doesn’t get much clearer than that, and both of these are for our site, not generic guidance. $\endgroup$
    – Ghoster
    Commented May 14 at 3:06
  • $\begingroup$ Uh, my opinion is that heavy-weight guys (site top members, mods, CMs) are formulating always more cryptic. Their reason is the same as the reason of the politicians, i.e. to not insult anyone, or not saying anything badly. But their style is going worsen with every year. Check just the MSE. I think, a point will arrive as only they understand each other and a "media" appears to explain, who said actually what. $\endgroup$
    – peterh
    Commented May 20 at 23:20

6 Answers 6

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My opinion is that social pleasantries in questions and answers should be strongly discouraged and edited out as needed (especially as part of a more significant edit). This site is not a forum/thread where users reply to each other in posts. Such interactions should be, at most, used as part of a larger comment. However, there is no need to mass edit old posts or mass flag old comments specifically to remove them.

In addition, according to my interpretation of "be polite", it is perfectly sufficient to just use a neutral and non-aggressive tone. It does not mean that social pleasantries must necessarily be used.

This is the same as the official position here.

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    $\begingroup$ I agree that “Be polite” really means “Don’t be rude”. Otherwise it would be mandating pleasantries and that’s absurd because the vast majority of posts don’t have them. $\endgroup$
    – Ghoster
    Commented May 8 at 23:12
  • $\begingroup$ Perhaps there should be some variance to the policy, so it depends on situation instead of being one size fits all approach. For example, especially towards new users we even should make effort to be polite and nice. With old users yes, politely neutral and brief is preferable. $\endgroup$ Commented May 18 at 12:36
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    $\begingroup$ I feel like the parenthetical "(especially as part of a more significant edit)" is doing an awful lot of work. Virtually everything here seems to agree that "social pleasantries" are best omitted. But, at least in my mind, the nontrivial part of the question is whether it's worth editing a post for the sole purpose of editing out the "Have a good day!" stuff. $\endgroup$
    – glS
    Commented May 19 at 14:43
  • $\begingroup$ @glS I think it's a judgement call. If the question is still fresh on the front page, it should be fine. However if not, bumping more than a few posts onto the front page in a short span of time is frowned upon, especially if there is no other improvement than the removal of social plesantries. $\endgroup$ Commented May 19 at 23:28
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This is a non-issue. ${}{}{}{}$

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    $\begingroup$ The question is, does this rise to the sufficient level such that the rule should be enforced? I view these rules as heuristic guidelines rather than absolutes (but other people on this thread can decide if they agree I suppose). @Ghoster $\endgroup$ Commented May 9 at 14:40
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    $\begingroup$ @Ghoster The official stance is straight and to the point: Do not use them and edit them out when needed. $\endgroup$ Commented May 13 at 18:01
  • $\begingroup$ Probably the shortest answer that is uphold 10× on SE. $\endgroup$ Commented May 19 at 11:12
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    $\begingroup$ This clearly is an issue someone wants to discuss, otherwise this Q&A thread would not exist. If you have nothing useful to say, it is better to stay silent instead of making a dismissive throw-away remark disguised as an answer. Especially so that you had to abuse the system to bypass the minimum-30-character requirement by including a string of invisible, non-printable characters in your post. Not cool. $\endgroup$
    – user402514
    Commented May 20 at 18:10
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Social pleasantries in questions and answers are inappropriate.

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I have a vague recollection of an increased tolerance for thank-you comments and the like during the era of Let's Be More Welcoming. At that time (among other issues), new folks would reply to answers with "thanks" comments, and old users would chastise the new users for wasting the old users' time with their civility.

I think that taglines like "hope that helps" or "have a great day" or "thanks in advance" don't belong in questions or answers. I put them in the same category as edit histories which we also discourage (link to be added later). You don't want a question to be full of EDIT 1 and EDIT 7 as the asker figured out what they were asking, because in a year none of those in-the-moment details will matter. Comments are a little different, because comments are intended to be transient; deleting a stale comment doesn't bump a post in the same way that editing out a tagline does.

I don't generally add a comment when I remove a tagline; instead I use the description of the edit.

I would consider a comment like "I value politeness but apparently you don't" to be impolite in a way that reminds me of a terrible person in my personal life, but perhaps that's just me.

Anyway, I have to go hide from a tornado now, so I hope that helps, and have a nice Thursday tomorrow. Cheers, rob. 🌪️⚡🦇🦦🦍🐌🕸️

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  • $\begingroup$ Thanks for letting me know that you edit out taglines because they don’t belong in questions and answers. $\endgroup$
    – Ghoster
    Commented May 9 at 0:14
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    $\begingroup$ I wasn’t offended by the comment that “Your culture may not value politeness, but many cultures do.” I think it’s true, but irrelevant. If we valued cultural differences above physics here, we would let people write in the language of their culture and behave however they behave in their culture. Instead there are mandates like “Write in English, no chit-chat, and be polite” imposed on users from all cultures… for good reasons, in my opinion. $\endgroup$
    – Ghoster
    Commented May 9 at 0:32
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In Academic papers it is not unusual to see a section where people thank and acknowledge people for their help. I don't see any point in getting uptight about a few words of thanks or pleasantness, particularly when we're supposed to encourage a "be nice" attitude. If anything we should be more informal here than in academic papers.

Deleting these remarks does seem petty, and probably comes across that way to new users.

So I'm on the side of not becoming Vulcan. :-)

So what is our policy on pleasantries in questions and answers, or what should it be?

Do we really need a policy for something this trivial ? Have lawyers (or Vulcans) taken over the site ? Loosen up, people, please.

My common sense would suggest that, as long as they're not overdoing it, leave it alone.

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    $\begingroup$ I agree that especially towards new users we even should make effort to be polite and nice. With old users yes, politely neutral (but definitely not aggressive) tone is mostly more suitable here. But if someone occasionally feels like being more verbose in their niceness, then that should be tolerated as well. Live yourself when appropriate and let others live. $\endgroup$ Commented May 18 at 12:26
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Social pleasantries in questions and answers are appropriate.

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