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I keep seeing a user in the Suggested Edits queue doing the exact same edit to several questions, such as this one here.

enter image description here

It always has the same typo "Thanks in Adavanced" and the deleted portion is always the same typo every time too (except is says "thank you in advanced". I've seen this edit for several of his/her suggestions. What should be done with this kind of edit? Should it simply be rejected or should we alert a mod somehow? Why am I seeing it like this in the first place?

Edit

Perhaps because I wasn't clear enough, I think the point of my post was missed. I am aware of how "thank you" deletes are usually handled. My issue was this person seemed to magically find several of these "thank you in advanced" errors. See here, here, here, here, here, and here. Somehow I find it unlikely that people here have made that typo several times across posts, but perhaps I'm wrong.

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    $\begingroup$ I used to remove those greetings and other related phrases that simply added nothing to the query while reviewing/editing anything substantial. Seldom did I edit simply to remove them. But this is totally valid. As whuber stated, this is the norm. Check this Meta post too. $\endgroup$ Commented Jun 15, 2023 at 18:11
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    $\begingroup$ Also check Nick Cox's comprehensive post here, in which one of the stated points was: "Edits should remove greetings (at the beginning of a post) or signatures (at the end) and any material that looks irrelevant to the question. ... " $\endgroup$ Commented Jun 15, 2023 at 18:19
  • $\begingroup$ I believe the point of my post was missed. Please see the edit. $\endgroup$ Commented Jun 16, 2023 at 0:30
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    $\begingroup$ Why is that a concern?? $\endgroup$
    – whuber Mod
    Commented Jun 16, 2023 at 0:48
  • $\begingroup$ Maybe I'm overthinking it. Just seems to be weird this person found this exact grammar error several times. My concern was that they edited in a typo and then edited it out so they could reputation farm, but now that I'm thinking about it, that makes little sense. $\endgroup$ Commented Jun 16, 2023 at 1:06
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    $\begingroup$ @ShawnHemelstrand, I just random searched stats.stackexchange.com/search?q=Thank+you+in+advance and found so many posts for potential edit. Maybe they found the posts via some query. Who knows? As long as the suggested edits aren't harmful, even if it's for rep points, I won't get bothered. A bit bizarre that this is happening but I won't get vexed at those suggestions. $\endgroup$ Commented Jun 16, 2023 at 3:02
  • $\begingroup$ Fair enough. Thanks for the input. Suppose I'll just accept them as is. $\endgroup$ Commented Jun 16, 2023 at 3:05
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    $\begingroup$ For some reason, “thank you in advanced” is a common malapropism. I don’t know why, but it’s a common occurrence in stack exchange questions. $\endgroup$
    – Sycorax Mod
    Commented Jun 16, 2023 at 4:28
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    $\begingroup$ Even "Thank you in advance" is often considered slightly impolite as well as redundant. Often it is intended only as a variant on "I will be grateful for any attention" but it can be misread as implying not feeling obliged to thank people after receiving a gift (here of advice or information, etc.). The field is strewn with scope for minor linguistic and/or cultural misunderstandings. I bridle inwardly at requests for assistance (I am not your assistant!) rather than help (I am often happy to try to help you), but at the same time I doubt anyone so asking is expressing entitlement. $\endgroup$
    – Nick Cox
    Commented Jun 16, 2023 at 9:04
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    $\begingroup$ Should I search for posts to make trivial edits to? Leaving this here for future readers. One answer suggests not having these edits require reviewer time. $\endgroup$ Commented Jun 16, 2023 at 12:29
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    $\begingroup$ "TIA" was part of the original netiquette and Emily Postnews standard practice, so that new users wouldn't think something was wrong when they didn't receive a "thank you" followup post. Everything of course fell apart when Eternal September arrived. $\endgroup$ Commented Jun 16, 2023 at 12:36
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    $\begingroup$ Yes @RayButterworth, that September changed everything. $\endgroup$ Commented Jun 16, 2023 at 12:39

4 Answers 4

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It is SE policy, across all sites, that superfluous, irrelevant phrases like the perfunctory (and polite) TIA closing should be removed. (Feel free to disagree -- I do -- but that's how it is.)

Evidently this reviewer has some problems with English but they are perfectly correct with their suggestions -- and kudos to them for that.


One user makes the perfectly legitimate point that applying such edits to old posts inappropriately bumps them to the top of the queue. As a reviewer I have handled this by not approving suggested edits that only make such changes to posts older than 30 days. Indeed, it takes a substantial change -- such as correcting an important error -- for me to approve any edits to years'-old posts.

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    $\begingroup$ Although ultra-pedantic by most people's standards, if I am editing out "TIA" and similar I always try to look out for everything small that can be fixed at the same time. $\endgroup$
    – Nick Cox
    Commented Jun 16, 2023 at 9:06
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    $\begingroup$ I disagree, I think incremental are fine. BTW im prob the user $\endgroup$ Commented Jun 16, 2023 at 13:19
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    $\begingroup$ The issue with incremental improvements is that the same post keeps popping back up to the top of the queues and people quickly tire of that. Following @NickCox's advice -- which is the policy of all SE sites -- spares us this tedium. $\endgroup$
    – whuber Mod
    Commented Jun 22, 2023 at 13:21
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I agree with whuber's take on this. I am only posting to emphasize what has already been written in the past and now in the thread given in the comment.

We really don't need to see any form of greetings and other or any form of salutations in the post - post a straight forward no-nonsense technical query without beating the bush. If the user is new, please make them aware why we don't prefer any "TIA" related statements.

But should one suggest an edit/edit singly to weed out such statements from a post?

Let me allure the reader's notice again to a particular para of the old wise post of Nick Cox (emphasis in italics done from my part):

Editing even one small thing requires a careful decision. It will bump the question momentarily to the top of the active list. Some people are irritated to re-open a post of interest to find one minute change. But even threads that have seen many posts can carry errors worth correcting. Nevertheless, for this and other reasons, it is good advice that if you edit, edit everything that you spot as deserving change, so as to make the edit worthwhile.

Please re-read this. When you edit a post, try to see how you can make the post more readable, lucid and comprehensive. While I won't dictate anyone how they would suggest an edit or so, if this is done solely for the sake of removing "TIA" statements without substantially editing anything else consistently, this might be a case to reconsider.

By doing this, you are depriving the new askers from the eyes of the potential users who could answer/add valuable comments.

I might have approved those suggested edits myself, but I really do discourage anyone to go on such a spree to dig out all posts only to remove those TIA statements. Better goal would be to make the new users familiar with the norms and established protocols here.

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Minor edits removing salutations, thanks-in-advances etc are in principle a good thing, as other answers have said. And as other answers also say, they come at a cost, including reviewer time (if edits are made by a low-reputation editor so go through the review queue) and of bumping questions to the top of the active list (taking attention away from more recent questions).

The tone of the other answers, and comments underneath them, suggest that overall this editing practice is discouraged, particularly on older questions. I would like to write a more encouraging answer, but with some suggestions to such editors (the kind who on Wiki projects is often called a "gnome") that would make the practice more useful and less harmful.

I don't see why age of question should in itself be a barrier to a "tidy-up" edit, though I see others disagree with me. But I would encourage any editor to consider the visibility of the question. Tidying up a question which is seen thousands of times in a year is two orders of magnitude more valuable than doing so to a question viewed only tens of times in a year (you can get a sense of this by looking at the "Viewed" stats at the top of the page). This substantially improves the cost-benefit ratio of the edit, and on high-traffic questions I'd suggest is worthwhile even on questions that are several years old. I'd also suggest that removing salutations is a lot more beneficial than removing thanks or other sign-offs, due to the importance of preview snippets (e.g. in search engines) where space is at a premium and salutations can really eat into it.

As a courtesy to reviewers, and to help counteract the cost of taking up space on the active question list, do try to find other things to improve as part of your edit. If you deliberately searched for a remove-worthy phrase (common salutation, thank you, misspelling etc) then it's likely the question was posted by someone not familiar with how Stack Exchange works or who may have made other mistakes with their English. Either way there's a good chance that you can improve the question further, even if it's only by adding more appropriate tags.

On the other hand, please resist the temptation of trying to make yourself useful or grow your reputation by making many such edits in quick succession. This renders the active question list useless as it fills up with minor edits. The "cost" of your edits will be much lower if you reduce the rate at which you perform them.

As an edit reviewer, the following behaviours would likely lead to me rejecting gnomish edits, even if I accept there was good intent behind them:

  • low effort, failing to make changes to other obvious errors,
  • rapid editing so multiple edits are jamming up the review queue and would dominate the active question list,
  • a focus on questions with low traffic that don't seem to deserve another turn on the main page (e.g. the question is actually quite poor, even if not quite close-worthy, or very niche to the needs of the particular questioner rather than of general interest).
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    $\begingroup$ I agree with all the main points here. The bogey is trivial minor edits that irritate those who think they're trivial or those reviewing suggested edits who are handling them. If you're the kind of person who edits, or who edits edits, so to speak, congratulations, you've qualified for the Pedants Society already. Let's back up and say that for many of us the major irritant is sloppy or rambling posts in the first place, which is why we edit at all. And poor presentations can exist for defensible reasons, including being new to technical forums or to CV or writing in a foreign language. $\endgroup$
    – Nick Cox
    Commented Jun 22, 2023 at 6:58
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    $\begingroup$ Or if you wondering if it should be Pedants Society or Pedants' Society, step right inside. $\endgroup$
    – Nick Cox
    Commented Jun 22, 2023 at 7:03
  • $\begingroup$ Thanks @NickCox. There's a netiquette to technical forums, and CV in particular, that's alien to many users. "It's politer not to say thanks" is unintuitive, for example. This is one reason I support apparently "trivial" edits to older questions if they get high traffic: such pages, often reached via search engine results, are really our "front page" where we display our wares. In contrast, few new users have their first experience of CV via the active question list or our FAQ/tour. Modelling (in the pedagogical sense) our netiquette expectations on high-traffic Qs is particularly valuable $\endgroup$
    – Silverfish
    Commented Jun 22, 2023 at 17:25
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I am most likely the user since I have submitted around 25 or those edits. I magically find it by searching (with quotes in the search) "Thank you in advanced" or similar incorrect fluff. From posts as have been mentioned I got the idea that this is fine, and I don't see a reason that it shouldn't.

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    $\begingroup$ You are fighting an established policy: although you might disagree, there is no point in trying personally to change it. Please pay attention to the recommendations and links here and follow what they suggest. $\endgroup$
    – whuber Mod
    Commented Jun 16, 2023 at 13:25
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    $\begingroup$ Almost everyone, including myself, agrees that such things should be edited out. Some of the concerns on this topic expressed by various users and posts across SE sites include (1) whether these edits should take reviewer time (i.e., wait till one is 2K rep for very minor edits) and/or (2) too many minor edits at one time due to excessive homepage bumping (i.e., limit the number per day to 3–4). Related discussions: Should I search for posts to make trivial edits to? $\endgroup$ Commented Jun 16, 2023 at 13:26
  • $\begingroup$ FYI, I didn't downvote. $\endgroup$ Commented Jun 16, 2023 at 13:28
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    $\begingroup$ Thank you for expressing your thoughts. I also didn't downvote you. It just seemed like something I've seen before so I had to ask. $\endgroup$ Commented Jun 16, 2023 at 13:38
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    $\begingroup$ On any Meta sites, downvotes don't mean the answer might be incorrect or badly written: it signals disagreement. SecretAgent: Did you notice that the answer to the related discussion begins "No. Please don't do this"? $\endgroup$
    – whuber Mod
    Commented Jun 16, 2023 at 13:46
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    $\begingroup$ The trouble with minor edits is what is minor. It is all too easy to imagine small edits that are highly objectionable and so there is good reason for 2K as a threshold. $\endgroup$
    – Nick Cox
    Commented Jun 16, 2023 at 14:02
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    $\begingroup$ I couldn't urge anyone more to please read @NickCox's post given in the link. $\endgroup$ Commented Jun 16, 2023 at 14:05
  • $\begingroup$ @whuber I did. I shared it to help stimulate the discussion. Hope that's ok. $\endgroup$ Commented Jun 16, 2023 at 20:05

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