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I've noticed that when someone asks a question, often the first line of the answer will be "Welcome to Stack Exchange!", followed by a response. When I started out on this site, I felt patronized and/or belittled by such comments before the post. I feel as though the line sounds rather condescending, and I didn't appreciate others pointing out my new status.

I understand that most people put this to welcome new users and would like to start a respectful discussion of this specific line's merits and/or flaws. For example, is there a better phrase to welcome new users, or am I simply seeing things that aren't there, if you catch my drift?

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    In addition to the "New contributor" icon, just having a very low rep (and pardon me for pointing out the generic username also) serves as an indication that you are new. There's no way to hide your new status here, so anyone pointing it out won't make much of a difference. Also it's not at all bad to be new on Stack Exchange. The SE network isn't a place where new users are looked down on (perhaps rarely that happens, but it is quashed very quickly). I can see how the welcome felt condescending to you. For what it's worth, I'm sure it wasn't meant that way. – Todd Wilcox Sep 10 '18 at 19:19
  • Thank you all, think I understand now. – user45266 Sep 11 '18 at 1:29
  • It seems like a way of saying "Welcome!" without being very welcoming. – Don Branson Sep 14 '18 at 23:59
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I'm not a regular on here, so my opinion might have less weight since this might be a per-site policy, but anyway...

Regardless of the welcoming on the answer seems respectful or not, I'd note that no, it's not appropriate to start an answer with "Welcome to Stack Exchange" because it's just another fluff.

A similar issue was also raised quite recent on Meta Stack Exchange, where the community agrees that anything that doesn't add value to the answer in the long term shouldn't be there.

The "New contributor" indicator mainly focuses on interaction between users, that all users should follow the Code of Conduct (to put it simply: Be Nice). But it never means allowing users to just welcome the user on the comment, and especially not on the answers.


Personally, answering the question without belittling the asker is already welcoming.

  • It is not per site, but network wide. Your link on just welcoming the user dates from four years ago. We are now explicitly encouraged to be welcoming and less strict about comments when welcoming and guiding new folks. – Doktor Mayhem Sep 11 '18 at 15:05
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    @DoktorMayhem I'd argue less about comments since they are ephemeral and easier to be removed, but I'm still not convinced that starting an answer with "Welcome to <site>" is appropriate since it shouldn't be a part of the answer in the first place. – Andrew T. Sep 11 '18 at 15:24
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    To be fair, I'm with you on that - it's better in a comment that will then vanish. – Doktor Mayhem Sep 13 '18 at 7:54
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Across Stack Exchange we have been encouraged to do this for some time now, as there appears to be a majority of new users who find the sites quite unwelcoming.

In fact now we have an icon specifically to highlight new users so we can make them feel more welcome.

See Could we please be a bit nicer to new users? for further information.

It's a pity it didn't have that outcome for you, but we are going with what the data and input suggest we do.

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I don't think it's particularly useful to put this in an answer. Part of the point of stack exchange is that the questions and answers can act as a resource in the future, not just to the original asker, but to others who search or browse the site. For those others, the 'welcome...' language is at best redundant, and at worst off-putting: it makes the answer seem like it's only relevant to the original asker.

Of course being welcoming is great: appreciate (as far as possible) the merits of a question asked in good faith, help the user make any improvements if necessary; don't start pushing the question down a 'close' path unnecessarily.

A quick welcome in a comment - especially if you need to make a comment about something anyway - is probably less intrusive IMO.

  • Can we stop associating on-hold or closed with being unwelcoming. It should be a natural part of the site when questions need attention to be answerable and on-topic. Questions can be reopened rather fast after edits since any edit always puts it directly into the reopen queue. – Dom Sep 12 '18 at 11:40
  • @Dom My strong impression is that people often do find this aspect of SE unwelcoming - partly due to how the mechanism itself works, and partly due to the user interactions around a close-vote process. I'm not saying that people using the mechanism are trying to be unwelcoming, nor am I denying that sometimes it is in everyone's interest (including the asker) to put a question on hold fast. – topo morto Sep 12 '18 at 14:02
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    "Can we stop associating on-hold or closed with being unwelcoming." Yeah, as experienced users. But when this first starts happening to your questions, this seems very unwelcoming. I don't think it makes much sense to expect that users new to the site will anticipate the action of accepting close votes as part of a long-standing custom, and no big deal. – Don Branson Sep 15 '18 at 0:04
  • @DonBranson again, vilifying the mechanic is not something we should do. New users who are unfamiliar with the site are likely to get there question closed if they don't understand the site. Helping them though it by welcoming them and pointing them to the help center, meta, tour, ect is what we should do. We can be welcoming and still have the mechanics of our site work. As long as we are helpful and upfront about why it is happening, there's no reason to avoid it if it needs to happen. – Dom Sep 15 '18 at 23:38
  • @dom, well yeah, sure. I wonder if you're mistaking my meaning. – Don Branson Sep 16 '18 at 1:46

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