# Are we overzealous with "policy" comments?

Recently I've seen a surge in comments stating, "Welcome to the site, blah blah blah, please take a look at ___." This is awesome that we're engaging new users like this. I've also seen a surge in not-so-great questions, but for the sake of this post, I'm considering well-written questions.

Should these kinds of comments be posted strictly on questions that need some guidance? I saw a question that didn't seem to have any issues with it but had a "welcome" comment on it explaining what kind of content is "appropriate" for Chem.SE. I felt like it made it seem like the question needed help or was otherwise inappropriate, but I failed to see an issue with the question.

Examples:

1. Hi 👋 and welcome to StackExchange! Take a look at the help center to learn how this site, and what type of questions are allowed. Good luck! (archive link)

2. Welcome to Chem SE. Please feel free to take a tour of this site to get a good idea of who we are and what this site is. As you have posted this question, you may recieve some answers. Do not write thanks in the comments. Instead pay the favor by upvoting the answer. If it's the best answer, accept it by clicking the tick button. (archive link)

I feel that these types of comments on questions can:

• Lead a new user to believe they did something wrong
• Give the new user a notification thus leading them to believe their question may have been answered or that they were otherwise told something "important."

I love that we're greeting new users and hope that we get new users to engage with the site, but am wondering if the comment approach is the best way to do this. Thoughts?

• Hmm, both comments were mine. Maybe you're right, they might convey a wrong message. I usually add such comments while reviewing First Posts, so that I help the new users to learn the rules and stuff. I guess I'll just say Hi, and link them to the tour page, is that sufficient? (@orthocresol) Jul 27 '17 at 8:40
• Yeah, that's probably ok.
– orthocresol Mod
Jul 28 '17 at 9:53
• I am unable to see if I had made any mistake in my second comment there. Did I convey a wrong message? Is there any hidden meaning that people might interpret (comment was written in good faith)?(@orthocresol , @MelanieShebel) Jul 28 '17 at 16:17
• I felt that the, "Do not write thanks in the comments" may sound a bit hmmm... accusatory maybe or otherwise come off unfriendly. Or perhaps the comment, "Do not write thanks in the comments. Instead pay the favor by upvoting the answer. If it's the best answer, accept it by clicking the tick button" might be best used in cases where there is a good answer where the new user hasn't accepted an answer. Instead of hmm... striking pre-emptively. It could come off as a tad condescending. Does that make sense?
– Melanie Shebel Mod
Jul 28 '17 at 22:40
• Sorry @PrittBalagopal, I forgot to tag you in that!
– Melanie Shebel Mod
Jul 29 '17 at 20:57
• @MelanieShebel I write that because new users do tend to just say thanks and move on. hmmm... accusatory maybe I'm not sure if you're right or wrong, since I'm no good at reading emotions, and reading emotions through internet posts is a hundred times harder. Aug 4 '17 at 15:46

I agree, that these comments may be seen as a bit overzealous. They suggest that this is a community driven by rules, which is definitely not the case. I think it's fine to link to the tour (check the informed badge first) and maybe the helpful maths pages. In cases of meh questions it would be nice to productively critique them.

It is important to understand that none of the "rules" (aka policies) are set in stone and that there is a certain fluidity about them. Better not make them more than they actually are.

I am one of those who think that "No Action Needed" in the review queues should be the absolute exception. (Especially when I later see those posts closed, heavily down-voted, etc..) I think a welcoming comment will give new users reassurance, that somebody at least read their inquiry. I know new users can be a little impatient.

Keep welcoming comments friendly and helpful. Don't point to too many sources at once, and let new users just try out the system.

† I think that if you decide that the post in the first post (late answers) review queue is not worthy of an up-vote, then something must be wrong with the post. If that post simply does not interest you, or you do not have the expertise to judge it, use skip and leave it for someone who does. Don't just review for reviewing's sake.

• Don't just review for reviewing's sake. Spot on, Martin. I was wondering, can we have a post for "How to review in the best way?" Jul 28 '17 at 16:11
• Probably that could help reviewers to make their reviews count more. Especially for late answers and first posts, they need peer review imo. Jul 28 '17 at 16:25
• @PrittBalagopal I am not a big fan of policing around too much, and I also don't think it'll make a big difference. It's pretty much all been said, and most of the time someone else will catch the things that are missing. It's just not really that helpful. Jul 28 '17 at 16:27
• For close votes, multiple users review a single item so it isn't an issue. What about for first posts, low quality posts, and late answers? They're reviewed by one person only, so there's a margin of error. Jul 30 '17 at 1:50
• You don't need to ping me on my posts. Obviously there always is a margin for error. The queues simply ensure that someone looks at them, but there are still plenty of users who look at the posts (and comment, edit, vote) without using one of the queues. It really isn't an issue that there might be a non-review review. We're a small page, that's really not a big deal. Low quality flags get reviewed by at least three people. They are also escalated to the mods. First post reviews should help the new user settle in, but eventually someone will take care of that. Late post is basically the same. Aug 4 '17 at 7:54
• ...but eventually someone will take care of that.You seem to have quite alot of faith that their questions will be taken care of. I don't reciprocate this feeling however. It really isn't an issue that there might be a non-review review. Such a review queue is there for a reason isn't it? To help new users out right? Considering the fact that the FAQ has over 20 pages of rules, my stance is that these review queues do matter regarding helping new users. Active users here (including myself) know most of the rules, so we tend to ignore the fact that the newbies don't know them, I believe. Aug 4 '17 at 15:40
• @PrittBalagopal first of all, you have to realize that the help centre does not contain rules. They are guidelines how we best get along. Yes, is overwhelming. Content matters, users don't. As such, it's nice to get new users to stick around, ask questions and answer others, but eventually it's not about the individual. The review queues simply assure they the new users have a chance of getting an answer, it's not about retaining people. If someone likes our work they will catch up of how stuff works, if not, then there is little we can do about it. Aug 4 '17 at 16:18
• Content matters, users don't I disagree. Content doesn't come without users. If someone likes our work they will catch up of how stuff works You can make more people like our work if we try to retain them. Other than these two, I agree with else. Aug 6 '17 at 14:39
• @PrittBalagopal Well, obviously users matter, too. With all things considered though, users tend to come and go. The content they created on the other hand is here to stay. Of course the whole site only works if everybody contributing here has fun, part of this comes from not keeping the system rigid and evolving it whenever necessary. I'd really like to retain more users, but essentially that only works with a friendly attitude and quality content. Everything else should fall into its rightful place eventually. Aug 6 '17 at 15:37

As the person who got the second comment, I will say that I felt as if I had done something wrong due to the fact that when you see other questions, they have specific answers and not welcome messages. Personally, I think that having no comment is better than a welcome comment that can definitely be read with a negative connotation.

I’m going to focus mainly on the two points you raised at the bottom of your post so that I can actually add to Martin’s post.

1. I believe that if the first post was well-written, the welcoming comment should also point that out. I try to do that if I do welcoming posts, namely by saying something along the lines of

Hi and welcome to Chemistry Stack Exchange. Thank you for a very nice first post! If you want to learn more …

That way, it should be clear that they did not do anything wrong (I hope).

2. Well … a comment is something important and it is totally fine that users are notified of comments. I believe it is just as good a learning experience to new users that not every notification means that their question has been answered. For that reason, I would almost say I’m in favour of commenting just for the sake of leaving a comment to teach what a notification actually is (just a ping, not necessarily an answer).

• Good point on the notification!
– Melanie Shebel Mod
Aug 7 '17 at 15:46
• "teach what a notification actually is" new users automatically get a new notification in their inbox when they sign up ;) May 17 '18 at 12:06