The original poster of the question sometimes adds a comment to the (to-be-)accepted answer to state that it solved his/her problem. Something in the form of "Thanks, that solved my problem" or "Yes, that did it! Thanks.".

I personally actually like the explicit confirmation, but these comments get often flagged as "not constructive". I'm not sure if this is the case. Also, deleting such a comment as moderator is IMHO a little rude. They normally also don't have any real negative impact IMHO. Of course, simply accepting the answer would technically indicate the same, but might not always (immediately) applicable.

This might look similar to +1 comments, but I think in this specific case it is something different.

What's the opinion of the community about this? It's not a big thing, but I thought I start a discussion about it anyway.


I like getting these comments. I don't always notice when an answer of mine gets accepted - there's no automatic notification of that and the reputation difference is not unique. When an answer is accepted, it reminds me that the primary goal here is to help other people (as opposed to accumulating reputation or providing popular answers) so I count an answer that's been accepted as qualitatively different to an answer that is merely popular.

In my experience, it's also rare that these comments come out of nowhere. Maybe there was a bit of discussion in comments about some detail, or maybe in the answer I had to guess a few things. Then a comment of this sort confirms that my guess or some modification was the correct thing to do, and again that gives me useful feedback.

So while it could be argued that these comments don't add value to the site in that if we took the modal user[1] then they wouldn't find it useful, then they add value to the site in that they help me, and therefore add value to the site for the mean user[2]! (Assuming that to everyone else then they don't actually remove value from the site.)

[1] That is, if we grouped all the users according to "Did this particular 'Yes, that helped' comment add value to the site or not?" then the "modal user" is a typical user of the largest group. My guess is that the largest group would say "No"

[2] But if we asked everyone to assign some number: "How much value did this comment add to the site?" (assuming we could measure it) then everyone except me (for this particular hypothetical comment) would probably say "0", but probably would not say anything negative, whilst I would say "10", so the mean would be positive.

  • i think a commant "this solved my problem" is helpful; however, a simple "thanks" or "this was helpful" really doesn't add anything especially if an answer is accepted. Andrew's comment about there being no automatic notification to the originator of the accepted answer is relevant here. @Martin's observation that in some cases two (or even more) answers work does not guarantee that the accepted answer is always the "best" one. – barbara beeton Sep 9 '11 at 13:12
  • Yes, there is a point at which even I would agree that they add nothing. – Loop Space Sep 9 '11 at 13:26
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    Even if they don't add any value. They also act as a terminator of a discussion and to be honest, I often would like to thank you guys on many occasions even though I did not ask a question but learned tons of stuff from your answers. I think it is a nice way of motivating the answerers for further occasions. Little moral boost would not harm the rigour of the Tex.SE system even though they don't contribute any practical(!) knowledge. – percusse Sep 9 '11 at 15:36
  • @percusse: I don't think discussions need to be terminated, someone might come up with another, potentially better answer a year later. I agree that it's nice to say "thank you" to people, but the way of doing that on tex.sx's is upvoting, which leads to rep and badges (which may or may not mean something to people) and shows that the readers value their work. These comments is where we need to keep in mind the wiki aspect of tex.sx; once a solution has been found and the talk has waned, the question remains a silent resource for many people. – doncherry Sep 9 '11 at 20:45
  • @doncherry: yes they are not necessary but sufficient. My point is that (i don't have any evidence though) many users are pragmatic, ask question, wait enough, get the solution and leave. Many don't even accept their favorite answer. If there will be an appreciation this is the second best option. I agree that maybe my personal taste maybe warped. – percusse Sep 9 '11 at 22:16

The general model is that comments are supposed to add to the 'value' of the question/answer. The whole point of the 'accept' idea is to show that the solution works. That's my reading, at least.

  • There are still the cases where two answers work. Officially the user should accept the answer "which was most useful to him/her". – Martin Scharrer Sep 9 '11 at 8:53
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    In these cases, I suggest the OP make comments why they picked one solution over the other. – doncherry Sep 9 '11 at 20:17
  • @don that's a great idea and what I suggest -- don't just say "+1 worked" explain why it worked and what was so great about the solution. – Jeff Atwood Sep 13 '11 at 2:25

Though I agree that a "thank you" is somehow not constructive to the thread flow, I don't believe it's off topic per se. A comment like that might not add value to the question/answer in the sense of a technical insight, but it makes the exchange more "human" to my eyes.

We have several users who are always eager to learn techniques, procedures, or are moved solely by the inner curiosity of how stuff works. On the other side, there are questions that clearly reflect the struggle of some users in making the damn code work. Most of them, like me, are far from being TeXperts, so any kind of answer - from an elegant one to the one brought directly from the bowels of TeX itself - that effectively solves the issue, is a big reason to be happy. For instance, we can see this through one of our users' eyes, when replying to egreg's answer:

That's freaking genius! Never thought of that! Thanks!

IMHO, I think "thank you" messages are harmless. I also see them as a way of saying to the answerer, "thanks for your effort in helping me". We can argue that this is a Q&A site, straight to the point. But I also see our users answering questions because they are willing to share knowledge. And for that noble cause, I say "thank you" to all of them, even at the risk of sounding non constructive.

Of course, we could encourage upvoting or/and accepting answers instead of adding a plus "thank you". TBH, I prefer the verbose option. OK, we have the duty of keeping our threads "clean" - that might sound like getting rid of such "thank you" messages - but I believe we represent a community-driven Q&A that is technical, concise and - most of all - friendly to our fellow users. ;-)

My two cents. :-)

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