I was looking at this recent question.

Out of curiosity, what's the deal with removing "Thanks!" and the meaning of the question in the topic? (I think version 1 was perfectly fine.)

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  • Re editing this post: Mostly just playing with you, but I do think "editing" is the more common way to refer to this action, when I saw "edition" I wasn't sure what the question was going to be about. – Caleb Aug 3 '11 at 10:45
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    @Caleb. As long as there is no meaning/tone change involved, I don't care at all, and I would also encourage it! Changes in meaning are also required sometimes, but I think it's best to avoid them. Not everybody will share their disagreement, if any. – Stéphane Gimenez Aug 3 '11 at 11:04
  • I do try to be respectful to honor people's tone and meaning when it is good, but not everyone is as exemplary as Tim. I do think sometimes changing both content and tone are called for. Some OPs are really demanding, some sound that way through carelessness or because English is their second language. Since SE is a permanent archive of answers, I think it's OK to try to redeem questions whenever possible. Sometimes you just have to start over if a question is going to survive. Here is a case in point of something I just tried to save. – Caleb Aug 3 '11 at 12:11

Including "Hi", "Thanks in advance", "This post by Michael Mrozek", etc. is highly discouraged -- these are supposed to be references, not conversations. There's a recent change that will automatically try to strip out salutations at the beginning of posts, but it doesn't check for things like "thanks" at the end yet.

When it comes to editing it out of existing posts, the accepted practice is "go for it if there's other stuff you want to edit, but don't bother if you're editing just to remove that one thing, it's not important enough". Personally I don't care if people want to edit just for that though

As for editing the title, the original poster did that separately and I'm not exactly sure why. There's a push throughout the network recently to have complete sentences in titles, so I edited it again

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  • Thanks for the link. I understand why heading salutations are discouraged, but "Thanks" looks quite natural and marks explicitly the end of the question. In this precise case, without the ending line it seems something is missing. – Stéphane Gimenez Aug 2 '11 at 19:42
  • Quoting one of the answers in the thread: "The thanks parts at the end of posts are much more difficult / risky to detect, so we are not touching those for now.". Probably related with my confusion. – Stéphane Gimenez Aug 2 '11 at 19:52

As the most prolific Remover-Of-Thanks on U&L, perhaps I should weigh in here. I feel fairly strongly that the assortment of "TIA" type sign-offs are a distraction to the purpose of the site. I remove them with vim and vigor (quite literally on the vim part).

I generally don't edit if a "thank you" removal is the only change pending. If there is a signature or salutation as well, then I go for it. However it is a very rare post that I don't see something else to improve. There are always punctuation and formatting issues to smooth out, tags to be added, etc. I have taken to always opening the question editor right away on brand new questions, particularly from lower rep users. Rather than reading all the way through, then going back to edit, I just fix up the little details as I read through the question.

In the case of the post in question, I thought I was going to be able to format it better, but when I got done I realized I wasn't sure I could make any improvement. There was no real point in canceling the edit just because it was minor, so I saved.

One of the most significant drawbacks to editing questions is that they get bumped to the home page. Most of the posts I edit are only a few minutes old, so they are on the homepage already and I don't consider this a drawback. It also means the OP is likely hanging around and will see the change and learn for next time.

Particularly troublesome are the "I would be eternally grateful if you could just give me any idea how to fix my problem." type epic sign-offs. Removing these helps users understand that rewarding the community is done by upvoting, posting answers, awarding bounties, etc. It's not a social site and works as well as it does partially because it tries to eliminate as many of the social aspects as possible.

Lastly, you mentioned in a comment that the "Thanks" can serve as a kind of closure to the question so it doesn't leave you hanging. My idea on that is that if the question feels like that without a thanks, then it could be re-worded to be clearer. Sometimes there is extraneous information tacked on to the end that should be worked into the post so that the question comes through full force at the end. Sometimes that data just needs to be formatted so it's clear where where the question ends and the random details begin. Having to have a "thanks" in every post for closure seems like a prop for an otherwise poorly worded or formatted post.

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  • Have a look at Tim's other posts. I think he does it on purpose. And I should say I'm on his side. – Stéphane Gimenez Aug 3 '11 at 10:50
  • @StéphaneGimenez: Sides? It's not like this something personal against Tim; I have over 1000 edits across SE sites in the spirit of helping keep things formatted and to the point. It seems like Tim is a very polite person and I'm sure saying thanks is quite natural. Heck I've literally edited my own answers to remove salutations that slipped in. I just don't don't think it's the best precedent to set. Leaving Tim's "Thanks" but removing Bob's "so much thanks in advance, see you around, bob" sets a confusing standard for other people reading and modeling their posts after what they see. – Caleb Aug 3 '11 at 11:07
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    Right, that's a valid argument! – Stéphane Gimenez Aug 3 '11 at 11:15

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