# Are congratulatory posts off-topic on meta? Or only some of them?

Posts commenting some achievements of math.SE users have been posted quite often on meta. Usually it was about a user reaching some reputation milestone, such as 100k or 200k. (I also remember a post congratulating some users on reaching 10k votes, which also contained a suggestion for a badge - so the purpose of that thread was not solely the celebration. There was another post about a user who offered 10k+ in bounties. I do not recall from top of my head some other kind of celebratory post directed to single user. There were some posts mentioning some milestones of the site.)

Recently another user passed 100k, which prompted other users to congratulate them here (now deleted by the OP, with score -2) and here (at the moment four close votes, score -2).

Moreover, it seems that some user2 voted to close several older posts of this type.1

In the light of these events, it might be good to know what is the community opinion on questions such as:

• Should congratulations like these be posted on meta? Or perhaps such post should only be made for the first user hitting some milestone?
• What to do with the older posts of this type? Should they be closed? Locked? Deleted? Left as they are?

1Judging by the fact that quite a number of them is in the review queue. See the review queue history, here is an example of a post currently under review. The users reviewing them seem to be voting mostly to leave open so far. I have one small comments on this activity: If the old posts of this kind should be closed, perhaps it would be simpler to request moderators to lock them with leaving the note about historical significance.

2I am only saying that this is very probably caused by a single user. (I cannot know that for sure.)

• I am all in favor of stopping this habit on meta. General congratulatory threads too, not just reputation. Unless something truly remarkable happens. – Asaf Karagila Sep 22 '14 at 14:19
• Martin, I suggest that people could buy plane tickets and buy the user a drink. Or a few could chip in and buy them dinner at a fancy restaurant. – Asaf Karagila Sep 22 '14 at 14:21
• When a user reaches 100K for the first time on a site, it is a milestone for the site as a whole, and deserves recognition on meta. We have 16 100K users now, and two 200K. I think we should have stopped creating such threads sooner. – Ayman Hourieh Sep 22 '14 at 14:24
• The real question is, should we, as mathematicians, be celebrating an arbitrary threshold based on the base 10 number system. That sounds like a numerology to me. :) – Thomas Andrews Sep 22 '14 at 14:58
• Now nobody is going to congratulate me on acquiring 15 daily delete votes. :( – user147263 Sep 22 '14 at 15:27
• In either case, I'm in favor of locking the existing threads (at least those about reputation). – Asaf Karagila Sep 22 '14 at 15:41
• I don't mind congratulation posts. What bother me is people answering congratulation posts many months after the post is posted! IMHO, congratulation posts should be locked after a short period of time (say a week?) – achille hui Sep 22 '14 at 16:07
• I personally stand in admiration of milestones of users on this site. I have been on this site for a year now, and I know it takes either preservation, or a seriously talented mathematician to achieve those lofty heights especially +100k (most cases both) in either case it requires dedication. I believe that such community behaviour to one another via posts should be preserved, but with an "answer" to such a post being an "acceptance" post from the subject of the post outlining their time, and the journey to get there..I know I would find that highly enlightening (personally)? – Chinny84 Sep 22 '14 at 21:12
• I enjoy the major milestone (like 100k) congratulatory posts. They do not happen very often. I would leave them open, continue them, lock them after a week, and revisit the question after they become much more frequent. 18 users in all of MSE with 100k is not what I would call common. It is harmless cheer, polite, and may prevent comments of the same in inappropriate places like on other people's posts. In general it is a very minor and relatively rare pleasantry in a place where there are few outlets for personal pleasantries. It hurts nothing to let this continue in meta. – J. W. Perry Sep 23 '14 at 3:07
• @J.W.Perry I would not describe the amWhy thread as harmless cheer. The one about Bill Dubuque took some clean-up by a mod. The DonAntonio thread is not entirely pleasant (to him), either. – user147263 Sep 23 '14 at 3:25
• @J.W.Perry: The unpleasantness was not only about the principle. It was personal. But let's not get into details. Best to drop it. – Jyrki Lahtonen Sep 23 '14 at 5:59
• Personally, I am not fond of this sort of question. It feels like naval gazing. However, I prefer them to this kind of question! Meta should be for discussing the workings of the site, while congratulatory posts fail at the first hurdle, as they aren't even questions... – user1729 Sep 23 '14 at 19:33
• @user1729, it's navel gazing, unless you're all out at sea while you're doing it. – Gerry Myerson Sep 24 '14 at 1:07
• @Gerry You mean that you don't find watching ships go past unnecassary and boring? With the obligatory ice-cream, it could also be considered self-indulgent! – user1729 Sep 24 '14 at 10:41
• As an experiment I have started a chatroom with the purpose of mentioning various achievements of math.SE users. It might be more appropriate place than meta and it might be suitable even for smaller achievements and interesting statistics. – Martin Sleziak Oct 5 '14 at 20:00

Whatever will the community decision on the fate of such posts be, it might be useful to collect links to them, so that they can be dealt with in a uniform way.

Here is the list of the links I was able to locate. I made this answer CW, feel free to edit it.

Reaching 100k

(ordered by id)

Reaching 200k

(ordered by id)

Reaching 300k

(ordered by id)

Other achievements

(ordered by id)

Other posts

• Updates of this list can be found here. (At the moment only one new thread was added, we will see whether more such threads will be posted in the future.) – Martin Sleziak Jan 8 '15 at 12:13

I'm a bit late to the game here, but I have to confess: I hate congratulations threads, and I downvote every single one. It makes me feel bad, because they are often users I like a lot personally, but I just don't think the threads contribute anything to the discussion. The very first one should have been closed, and no tradition started. There should be a place to recognize user accomplishments, but that isn't what meta is for.

User Care bear made a joking comment suggesting that we only congratulate based on a h-index which he adds the definition:

H-index is the largest integer $n$ such that the site has $\geq$ n users with $n$ kilopoints each.

I actually like this idea, since it will likely spread the congratulations over a greater number of users, rather than a single user getting it numerous times and it is increasingly difficult to obtain.

Now that we have a list of the thread, some statistical analysis is in order. Let's see who's most popular in the 100K category:

• What did you use to make the graph? – TrueDefault Sep 26 '14 at 22:51

These milestone/congratulatory posts mix a bit of off-topic personal acknowledgement (which in small doses I think is good for the Community) with an element of historical recognition. Compare the thread History of Math.StackExchange for a different admixture of those elements.

My preference is not to stand on ceremony here about off-topic/on-topic distinctions. If an issue is timely and important to the Community, better to address it on Meta than in the Main forum. There always seems to be enough tales of woe and bitter experiences reported, so at the least a modicum of "good news" is welcome.

I think that it is a nice gesture to recognize truly outstanding reputation achievements on meta.

However, I think it time to raise the bar for the meta-posts on reputation congratulations--simply too many people have $100$k to recognize them all. It would be like a tradition on an Area51 site recognizing people who attained $20$k; over time, it's just not sustainable. Perhaps raising the requisite level for a congratulatory thread to $200$k or $500$k would rarefy these congratulations enough such that they would be better received.

In a nutshell: Don't abolish the practice, but make the posts much less frequent.

• It seems to me that this sort of policy would mean mostly the same people get all the attention. – Jessica B Sep 23 '14 at 17:36
• Fair enough, I just don't see that as a problem. – apnorton Sep 24 '14 at 3:12
• @anorton If the same people would again have the same congratulations thread then it would be meaningless to continuously create new threads. – Hakim Sep 24 '14 at 11:35
• @Hakim, if one considers the congratulatory threads as notification of the site reaching a new milestone, rather than a particular user, there is still a point. – apnorton Sep 24 '14 at 11:52
• [j/k] Maybe Math.SE should have a kind of h-index, every increase of which can be celebrated. Definition: h-index is the largest integer $n$ such that the site has $\ge n$ users with $\ge n$ kilopoints each. It increased to 46 just today, with the 46th user, Henry, reaching 46K. Congrats!!! To raise h-index to 47, we need Andres Caicedo (and everyone above him) to get 47K. – user147263 Sep 24 '14 at 23:30
• I agree with your first paragraph (first sentence). I disagree with your second paragraph (there are not too many passing the bar over time here currently, and those who have already passed that bar have already been recognized). I agree with your third paragraph in spirit. For now, over the current number of meta posts per day, the frequency of congratulatory posts is trivial by my estimation (personal opinion). In time I think (I hope) your second paragraph will become true over time. When that time comes, alternative front page acknowledgements of these feats (i.e. 100K) should continue. – J. W. Perry Sep 25 '14 at 6:09