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I've been active on many Stack Exchange sites and post many Questions and Answers.

I know I like it when I get feedback when I post answers, either in the form of an accepted answer or a comment from the OP (original poster) or both when I answer a question. Even if it's upvoted and the OP makes no comment, I feel a certain loss at not knowing if the answer helped them.

I also like it when other users comment on my answers and I will leave feedback on answers that are particularly helpful or occasionally, if they're completely wrong (the notion of being wrong is more for the programming sites).

As such, I feel obliged to give people feedback when they answer my questions. Often though, there's not a lot to say, except - "this is a great answer" and we're supposed to avoid those types of comments - as they're noisy.

Is there an etiquette to giving feedback on answers posted to questions?

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  • I'm now going around and deleting all my superfluous comments :) – user57 Aug 5 '17 at 7:59
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    I'm voting to close this question as off-topic because Stack Exchange's meta support site was created to deal with social issues as well as technical. While this may be an interpersonal issue, I'm going to ask that we don't split these conversations between two sites and allow the broader Stack Exchange to community to benefit from whatever may be discussed here. – Robert Cartaino Aug 7 '17 at 16:28
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    I would consider it rude to downvote an answer without leaving a comment explaining why. – bobflux Sep 12 '17 at 20:46
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I run out of votes very often, because I cannot stop myself from reading a lot of posts a day.

I don't usually leave comments when I vote because the tooltip says it already.

But when I do, I leave comments that point to something.

If it's a great post, I point out what stood out to me, like on your recent post I wrote "20 years to Moderator? Wow! +1" (read that in Owen Wilson accent ;))

If it's a bad post, I point out why I think it's bad and add a "-1" to let them know I am voting on it so that they can ask for further clarification to improve the post.

Either way, my comments are usually no longer needed once the OP has seen it and used that information.

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    I just need to make this my last superfluous comment (for the sake of irony)- I'm taking your advice, thank you :) – user57 Aug 5 '17 at 4:19
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I think the etiquette varies a bit from site to site, I usually don't comment on things to say "+1 good job" or the like, because I started out on Stack Overflow, where the tolerance for noise and chit chat was a lot lower.

I think occasionally comments can be a "nice" addition. Particularly when they're specific about what was liked or disliked about a post, but I often don't respond to positive comments, because we really shouldn't be making conversation there.

On the other hand...

I'm really not a fan of boilerplate comments. Honestly the:

Welcome to the site! Be sure to take the tour and checkout the help center.

Seems noisy and often times sounds like an unnecessary half-hearted sentiment. Sort of like the greeters at Walmart on a busy day... They acknowledge everyone who passes by without honestly engaging with anyone at all.

Or sometimes worse...

Welcome to the site! Be sure to take the tour and checkout the help center. Great first post, but please adhere to policies x, y, and z.

These comments can occasionally be helpful, but when posted by someone who's a little too eager... they often end up badgering new users to distraction over somewhat minor details. And even when the new user adheres to whatever policy they were hassled about, the comments linger indefinitely.

I remember, once upon a time, there was a feature request for self destructing comments, so that users who wanted to engage a little more could do that, without the comments hanging around forever. Basically self destructing comments could be left with a timer, after X days the comments would disappear harmlessly. It never took off though...

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You don't want or need to comment on every answer.

But some answers stand out on either the good or bad sides. In those cases (especially the former), people would appreciate a comment about what they have done particularly well, and even the fact that they "stand out" from the crowd. Even a brief "good job" is meaningful.

In my case, I'd like to know if I've done something particularly poorly.

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I would suggest that you read the tooltip on the "add a comment" link. I think it best explains the intended use for comments.

Use comments to ask for more information or suggest improvements. Avoid answering questions in comments.

The way you say, "this is a great answer", on SE is to upvote it. Also, if you asked the question, you mark the best answer as accepted.

NOTE: even if your answer is not accepted, that doesn't mean that your answer isn't useful. Future readers may come to that question and find your answer more helpful than the accepted one because it better fits their situation, etc.

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