# How to deal with users padding their answers with custom signatures?

I'd like to start by clarifying that this is not a question about whether custom signatures in posts should be allowed. That issue has been discussed before, and the SE policy on the matter is pretty clear:

Do not use signature, taglines, or greetings.

Every post you make is already “signed” with your standard user card, which links directly back to your user page. If you use an additional signature or tagline, it will be removed to reduce noise in the questions and answers.

Your user page belongs to you — fill it with information about your interests, links to stuff you’ve worked on, or whatever else you like!

It seems, however, that we've got several users, even quite established ones, here on math.SE that do append a lengthy custom signature to all their posts. I'm sure they don't do so out of malice, or a willful desire to flout the rules — most likely, they've just seen other users do it, and have copied the idea, having no idea that they're not supposed to do that here.

In the past, whenever I've noticed a user doing this, I've simply edited out the signature from the specific post and left a comment on the post linking to the policy and politely asking the user not to use such signatures any more, e.g. like this:

Hi, [username], and welcome to Mathematics Stack Exchange. I've edited your answer, in accordance with the guidelines given in our help center, to remove the extra "signature" you appended to it. Your posts here are already automatically signed with your username, avatar and a link to your user page, which is where you may include any extra information about yourself if you want.

(I do customize the comment as needed, and also make sure to upvote the answer after editing if it's any good; I've found that a bit of politeness and personal touch like that tends to make people a lot more receptive.)

As far as it goes, this approach seems to be successful, and I do plan to continue doing so.

The problem, however, is that this still leaves all the user's older posts unfixed. New users will keep seeing these posts, and getting the impression that padding one's answers with funny / quirky / personality-reflecting signatures is a normal and accepted custom here.

If it was just a few posts, editing them all would be no problem. But, for example, this user has, as of this writing, 534 answers, the vast majority of which (based on some quick sampling) appear to end with:

Hope this helps! Cheerio,

and as always,

Fiat Lux!!!

I don't really feel like editing over 500 answers just to remove a repetitive signature, and I'm sure the user who posted them wouldn't appreciate that either, not to mention the way it would flood the front page. I suppose I could ask the user to edit their own answers themself, but I bet that would go down even worse — and I wouldn't blame them.

I could flag the situation for mod attention, but I'm pretty sure there's nothing they can do here that I can't. I do know that the SE devs have the technical ability to make mass edits, but I also know that they're reluctant to do it, perhaps for good reasons.

So I guess I'm just writing this to express a vague sense of discomfort and frustration with the situation, and to ask if anyone might have any practical suggestions on how to better handle such cases, or if I should just keep doing what I've done before.

• Meh, I wouldn't worry about it too much. It can be distracting at times, but usually, I think it would take more effort to deal with than it's worth. If the signature is a couple lines of plain text (instead of something flashy or annoying), I'd just leave it alone.
– user61527
Jun 11, 2014 at 22:41
• You can hide this particular signature with SOUP. :) Yeah, I've seen it a few times, but if the user takes the trouble to write 500+ answers, usually pretty technical, of them 200+ accepted... I don't mind that much. Someone posting two-line answers to LHF questions would be another matter.
– user147263
Jun 11, 2014 at 23:58
• I don't mind user have their signature on their answer. I also don't mind M.SE disallow such signatures. However, I'm strongly against any form of massive edit that touches the timestamp of old posts. old posts should stay untouched unless there are useful new things to add. Jun 12, 2014 at 7:43
• What, pray tell, is SOUP? Jun 12, 2014 at 9:12
• I am unsure I agree with the second removal you cite (this post). As the user's name is in arabic (or something similar), it is a nice touch telling me what I should call them. I don't want to have to click on their profile to find out. The other signature is silly and is, I suppose, what the policy is trying to stamp out. Jun 12, 2014 at 9:20
• @RobertLewis My guess would by that SOUP stands for Stack Overflow Unofficial Patch. (I have to admit that I am not familiar with it; I have no experience GreaseMonkey scripts and other user scripts.) Jun 12, 2014 at 10:05
• I also don't mind signatures $\large{...}$ Jun 12, 2014 at 11:41
• When I think "signatures" I remember those banner images people used to include at the end of their posts on message boards. I'd hate to see something like that return on MSE, so I'm wary of signatures in general and think they should be discouraged. There's no use in editing hundreds of old posts to remove them, but at least we can try to discourage their further use. Jun 12, 2014 at 13:21
• Wow, I had no idea there was actually a policy! I find the habit a bit annoying, but it does not actually get above my threshold for action... Jun 12, 2014 at 18:12
• @AntonioVargas Here's an example for those who forgot. Taken from Atwood's blog.
– user147263
Jun 12, 2014 at 18:36
• @wordsthatendinGRY: what does "LHF" stand for in your phrase "two-line answers to LHF questions"? By the way, I checked out Atwood's blog and found it very engaging and informative. Thanks for providing the link. I plan to read it more carefully before posting my next, more detailed answer to the question at hand. Jun 12, 2014 at 20:51
• @RobertLewis "low-hanging fruit", questions that are (relatively) easy to answer. meta-speak
– user147263
Jun 12, 2014 at 20:52
• @wordsthatendinGRY: well, I've certainly picked by share of low-hanging fruit off the MSE tree, as have many others, and earned not a few points doing so. But I find that explaining how to find the tangent line to a parabola over and over has ceased to be worth the trouble of typesetting the $\LaTeX$, so I tend to leave such answers to folks at that stage of their own mathematical journey. Not that I will never pick LHF again . . . ;-) Jun 12, 2014 at 21:04
• Long greetings can be a potential problem if many users add them to their answers, but currently, examples like Robert Lewis' five-line (including blank lines) greetings are rare. I don't think long greetings will likely cause any real and persistent trouble in the foreseeable future. Jun 14, 2014 at 5:00
• @user1551: it's 58 characters, including spaces and newlines, if I've reckoned it correctly. Jun 14, 2014 at 5:07

I guess I'd better chime in here with a few preliminary remarks before I retire for the evening (well, actually, morning . . . it's nearly 2:00 AM here in Beserkeley, CA, USA, and I am quite sleepy; too sleepy to respond thoroughly right now). I would like to say at this point that this is the first I've heard of this policy, though one other time a user of substantially greater reputation than mine mentioned the issue to me in a comment; but when I commented back asking where the policy was stated, the response that I received was along the lines of "in the blog somewhere"; well, that seemed pretty vague to me so I didn't pay much attention, though I did try, albeit briefly, to search "the blog" for his source. Ilmari Karor, on the other hand, wisely provided a link which I immediately clicked. So now I am aware of the official dictum on such matters, and I shall take it under advisement. I have more to say on this and will be back shortly to address the question in greater detail. Meanwhile, I bid you recall Alan Dershowitz's comment that law is a cudgel, not a scalpel. Peace and Good Night.

• I for one do not mind, and even like your "Fiat Lux". Every poster has their own style (e.g. Give me an answer and I can tell you if Lucian wrote it.) and I consider your sign off the natural continuation of your writing style within the body of the answer itself. It's nice that user's display a personality and contributes to the community instead of detract for it. Afterall, this isn't wikipedia. Apr 2, 2015 at 5:53
• @JessicaK: Thanks; I'm glad you feel that way, and of course I agree. But as I explained in the comments to math.stackexchange.com/questions/1208587/…, I can't risk it, so I have been trying to work through "channels", being polite, non-controversial and all, to see what can be done. And your right, wikipedia it ain't, though obviously a contingent of users exerts an influence to move things in a more wiki-like direction. Cheers, and as ever, Fiat Lux!!! Apr 2, 2015 at 6:00
• @JessicaK: you might consider posting an answer to this thread detailing your ideas, concerns, feelings. Fiat Lux!!! forever! Apr 2, 2015 at 6:02

I think I am one of those people who do use padding every now and then.

Especially with homework exercises I try to only give hints and then a signature of

Good Luck

0r similar, I think this is allowable.

or should i refrain from it?

• If you think it adds something to the answer -- as opposed to just "tagging" it as yours, using the answer as a convenient soapbox to express something unrelated, or fulfilling some perceived need for a "formal salutation" (a cultural feature that, by design, is not encouraged here) -- then I wouldn't really consider it a "signature, tagline or greeting" in the sense meant by the SE policy. Indeed, the fact that you're only adding it to some of your answers suggests to me that you do think so. In any case, even if I disagreed, I would generally not bother editing a post just for two words. Jun 12, 2014 at 11:10
• it certainly makes sense in the context of a short hint to a homework answer, and in the wider context of math.se where it's ok to be pleasant to each other :) Jun 13, 2014 at 18:31