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Whenever an MSE user posts an answer to one of my questions, I always have a tendency to first post a comment thanking the user for his/her response, and then proceed to discuss the response, and finally thank the user again.

However, rarely does a user respond to such a "thank you". They are mostly ignored, leading me to think maybe they are inappropriate (possibly annoying?). It's not that I'm expecting a "You're welcome!" comment in return, and I understand that any response to a "thank you" comment would only add to the clutter amongst the actual discussion of the mathematics, but the lack of a response has often worried me that I'm annoying them. So I was wondering if this is the case with most users, and hence I posted this question here to get an idea of the general consensus regarding "thank you" comments.

As a user answering questions here, what is your feeling when the OP thanks you? Do you feel it is unnecessary and rather inappropriate?

I've read both the How to Say "Thank You!" and the What is the etiquette about leaving short thank-you comments? posts here and they don't seem to answer my question, as they mainly address the "how" part of it.

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    $\begingroup$ Here's what I (and presumably you too) see every time I click on add comment: "Avoid comments like "+1" or "thanks"." I think it's clear what the answer to your question should be... $\endgroup$ – Najib Idrissi Dec 5 '14 at 16:13
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    $\begingroup$ I would prefer not to receive a bare "thank you." But "thank you, I can now solve the problem" is cheering. $\endgroup$ – André Nicolas Dec 5 '14 at 16:34
  • $\begingroup$ @Najib I don't see that; I see “Use comments to ask for more information or suggest improvements. Avoid answering questions in comments.” $\endgroup$ – MJD Dec 5 '14 at 18:06
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    $\begingroup$ @MJD that's on questions. The text is different when you comment on an answer. (You typically don't say "thank you" for a question...) $\endgroup$ – Najib Idrissi Dec 5 '14 at 18:24
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    $\begingroup$ Another related one: meta.math.stackexchange.com/q/6663 $\endgroup$ – Jonas Meyer Dec 5 '14 at 18:39
  • $\begingroup$ In some languages/cultures, it is impolite to receive a "thank you" but not respond. (However, in American English, this is not considered impolite.) $\endgroup$ – GEdgar Dec 7 '14 at 15:05
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While I do not think that "thank you" comments are necessary, and would even advocate that in prevention of clutter that people do not post thank yous, I would also not be offended by someone posting it on my answers.

But if you want to thank me I would much rather you embed the thank you as part of a longer comment asking a follow-up question, or a comment describing more precisely how my answer helped you. Either of those reduces clutter and provides constructive feedback on answer writing in general.

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It is up to you how you respond.

I find it rewarding and motivating to know that my answer helps, particularly if I have provided a different viewpoint or addressed a core difficulty. Regardless, it is nice to know that the OP viewed the answer.

A 'thank you' is certainly appreciated, but is not necessary.

There is an emphasis on SE sites to reduce interactions not directly related to the technical content ('no chit-chat') which is understandable in context as a broad principle, but is inhuman when taken to extremes.

I am happy that my Math.SE interactions have had a positive human side with very few negatives. Less so with other SE/SO sites.

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My view on this is that it is adiaphora.

I definitely don't believe that it is needed, but I also don't think that it hurts. In fact, when I have asked questions on other SE sites, I have sometimes commented with a thank you. In general I wouldn't add the thank you comment, but if the answer is exceptionally helpful then I do. Sometimes I have also asked a follow-up question (or clarification) in a comment. In the follow-up question I think it is fine to thank for the answer. Now, if another user answers that question (in the comment), then to show an appreciation to this user, I might add a thank you.

The fundamental way to show appreciation is to up-vote, to accept an answer, or to give a worthy answer a bounty. But sometimes, I think it is fine to show an appreciation by adding a "thank you" comment.

I don't think it is needed to add a "you are welcome" and it doesn't in mind mind do much. But then again, I don't think it hurts either.

If we reached a point where everyone was saying "thank you" followed by a "you are welcome" followed by a "but your so kind" followed by a "how can I possibly repay your great kindness" followed by a ... , then I would probably change my mind. But I doubt we will reach that point any time soon.

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It is not clear to me what exactly you mean with:

Whenever an MSE user posts an answer to one of my questions, I always have a tendency to first post a comment thanking the user for his/her response, and then proceed to discuss the response, and finally thank the user again.

If you mean by this you do this in a single comment it is fine in my opinion. That is something like: "Thank you very much for your answer. The following detail is however not quite clear to me. Could you perhaps explain it a bit more, or possibly suggest a suitable reference? Thanks again for your help." is alright.

If you comment first only "Thank you!" waiting for a reply like "You are welcome. Do not hesitate to ask if further clarification is needed." To only then post "Thank you for the kind offer. Indeed the following detail is not quite clear to me. Could you perhaps explain it a bit more, or possibly suggest a suitable reference?" Then I would not consider this as strictly inapropriate when it happens but well it just will not happen frequently as you observed and is somewhat inconvenient.

You should try to avoid back-and-forth exchanges as much as possible. It is alright, in my opinion, to say "Thank you!" (as the user that asked the question, do not leave random "thank you" comments all over the place, this is what voting is for) and often I will upvote such a comment as signal of receipt or even might reply. I would however be somewhat puzzled and possibly ever so slightly annoyed to only then get a follow up question. (If you only happen to think of it then, fine, but do not engage in back-and-forth as a default.)

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  • $\begingroup$ Oh, no I don't just say a "Thank you" and wait for a reply before I ask any follow-up questions! But I either add a "thanks" along with a follow-up question, or end it with a "thanks" almost always. I do realize now that the 'just-"thanks"' comments could be annoying to some users. $\endgroup$ – Train Heartnet Dec 5 '14 at 16:34
  • $\begingroup$ Thank you for the clarification. In my opinion this is fine, then. There should be some purists that would prefer a more direct style; but there should also be others that could be taken aback by lack of thanks, please and related things. Just do not overdo it, both regarding length and formality. (Also this is for comments. The practice of finishing a question with blank-line "Thanks!", starting or finishing it with greetings and alike, is to be avoided IMO. The q-post should be a stand-alone neutral question not the beginning of a conversation; comment can be part of a brief conversation.) $\endgroup$ – quid Dec 5 '14 at 19:18
  • $\begingroup$ Thank you for your suggestions, quid. I shall keep these in mind from now on. :) $\endgroup$ – Train Heartnet Dec 5 '14 at 19:40
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    $\begingroup$ Indeed the "thanks" at the culmination of a clarification can well be an important part of the clarification (which is the purpose of comments). One party, having expressed doubts or pointing to an apparent gap/mistake, may well express as "thanks" when this misunderstanding (or gaffe) is rectified to their satisfaction. $\endgroup$ – hardmath Dec 7 '14 at 14:40
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Thank you

is a word used to give them who is giving very appropriate answers with good ideas which makes the user to understand the root of the question. So, some body giving thanks means we are in right way.

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I always have a tendency to first post a comment thanking the user for his/her response, and then proceed to discuss the response, and finally thank the user again

Thanks for the warning; I will try to remember not to answer your questions. I do find unnecessary pings annoying.

My understanding is that if someone decides to answer a question, that means they found writing an answer the best (most enjoyable) use of their time at the moment. You have provided them with this opportunity to write an answer. It is no more your obligation to thank them that it is the answerer's obligation to thank you. In other words: as a question author, you owe nothing to the answerers.

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    $\begingroup$ Whew, I'm glad I asked this question! Now I know what goes on in the minds of answerers such as yourself, when they receive unwanted "thank you" pings. An apology on behalf of all such question authors; we really didn't mean to annoy you. Rest assured, you won't see such behavior from me henceforth. :) And I really, really hope your first sentence was meant in good jest. $\endgroup$ – Train Heartnet Dec 5 '14 at 16:34
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    $\begingroup$ @Jobin: I, on the other hand, do expect some sort of response. I hate it when I post an answer, and get nothing. Then after three months the answer (or a different one, sometimes) is accepted, and that's that. I want to know that I got through to the user. I want to know that the user at least read what I wrote, or tried to understand it. Of course several "thank you" messages are excessive, start by asking the question, when everything is over let me know that all is clear and if you feel like it, add a "thank you". $\endgroup$ – Asaf Karagila Dec 5 '14 at 22:36

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