Couldn't there be a standard comment that is added to new users's questions automatically?

Many of us have seen how most of the new users of this forum format their question. Not making use of LaTeX, just asking questions as something written in a homework textbook.

I was one of them, when I wrote my first question.

Usage of the standard part function when calculating with infinities

So why do we not add a standard, automated comment that is managed by (just a suggestion) https://meta.stackexchange.com/users/-1/community? Or make the comment part of the code included in questions?

One problem would, of course, be that not all new users ask questions and format them in a way not approved by MSE. But would that really be a problem?

I do not add a proposal as I do not know how my suggestion will be received. If it gets a positive response, I will include a suggestion in a edit, or if you folks have one.

Wouldn't this suggestion be time-saving? Just a idea from my side, I do not know what you think. What do you think about the idea?

  • $\begingroup$ I know this question has an answer here: meta.math.stackexchange.com/questions/22179/…. But (wait, I will write some more text) $\endgroup$
    – Andreas
    Feb 28, 2017 at 17:24
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    $\begingroup$ Apparently a "first" greeting is not enough for new users. And how often do we not see comments like "Please explain what you have tried with so far"? Apparently only "the first greeting" is not enough. $\endgroup$
    – Andreas
    Feb 28, 2017 at 17:26
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    $\begingroup$ ... and this is very much the same thing, asked four years ago. meta.math.stackexchange.com/questions/4925/…. It got quite a positive response. $\endgroup$
    – Andreas
    Feb 28, 2017 at 17:28
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    $\begingroup$ At some point we had a relatively smart bot running that did about this. There were complaints. (I report this as a matter of fact; the merits of those complaints are a separate matter.) To do this on each and every question of a new user would seem a bit odd (even) to me, especially as it is redundant with the information we just gave a user before asking. $\endgroup$
    – quid Mod
    Feb 28, 2017 at 17:38
  • $\begingroup$ @quid Well then, take a look at the first comment in this question math.stackexchange.com/q/2165643/404146 $\endgroup$
    – Andreas
    Feb 28, 2017 at 17:41
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    $\begingroup$ I am not sure what point you want to make. I told you that some users (not me) in the past saw it as a problem to have such automated comments even when they were somewhat targeted. That's it. $\endgroup$
    – quid Mod
    Feb 28, 2017 at 17:54
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    $\begingroup$ One user used to operate a bot which did posted comment that were to some extent similar. The reactions were mixed, see for example this post and other questions linked there.For some periods the comments were logged in chat, so you can even see a sample. $\endgroup$ Feb 28, 2017 at 19:57
  • $\begingroup$ @MartinSleziak It seemed like pretty good bot; why was it removed? Did the programmer voluntarily quit? $\endgroup$
    – suomynonA
    Mar 3, 2017 at 3:45
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    $\begingroup$ @suomynonA I am not sure what I can say to much more that the user who was operating the bot decided to stop it. There is also this question, but it does not seem to add much relevant information: What happened to NormalHuman? $\endgroup$ Mar 3, 2017 at 6:13
  • $\begingroup$ Looking at the comments I wrote here year ago, I should probably explicitly mentioned also the fact that MathJax link is shown as part of the advice displayed to a user asking their first question: Show “how to ask” advice before a new user asks a question. $\endgroup$ Mar 13, 2018 at 11:09

1 Answer 1


As you don't want to make a suggestion out of this, I will say it is a good question without being a good idea.

First consider the cost of such automated Comments. In the case of the previous user's personal efforts, the targeting required tweaking from time to time. In response to suggestions the automated Comments were removed after a designed time interval. Although we might learn something from the previous effort, there will be ongoing effort to maintain properly working code.

Second consider that currently the MathJax advice is already frequently posted by human beings, who can exercise judgement about whether to link to the introductory FAQ page, link to the Basic Tutorial and Quick Reference, and/or illustrate the idea by editing the Original Post for math formulas. Instituting an automated Comment would be a poor substitute for these personal interventions and might serve mainly to discourage them.

Finally consider the information theoretic value of automated Comments in general. The information content varies in proportion to the negative log-likelihood of an event. In the limit if a certain Comment were always posted, it's probability of one would translate to information content of zero.

In short this will be moderately expensive to implement with little benefit to the site even under optimistic assumptions.


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