I realize that short "thanks!"-style comments are not encouraged on SE sites (Reference: What is the etiquette about leaving short thank-you comments?).

However, people still post "thanks!" comments (sometimes while saying something else about the answer). When I see someone say "Thanks for the help!" in a comment to one of my answers, my first reaction is to want to reply with "Glad to help," or a similar phrase.

I haven't been doing so, as I feel it would be discouraged for the same reason "thanks!" comments are discouraged (noise, etc.).

Am I correct in not replying to these comments with a "Glad to help"?

Extending this, could it be said that all comments posted strictly to be "polite" are discouraged? (e.g. comments consisting only of compliments, etc.)

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I don't think thank-you-comments are discouraged here. On the link you gave, a moderator even explained how to make them. –  Michael Greinecker Nov 27 '12 at 18:03
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If I can't think of anything specific that reasonably extends a string of comments, I mostly just upvote the final comment to show that it has been read and understood. –  Will Jagy Nov 27 '12 at 18:20
    
@MichaelGreinecker I'm not saying thank-yous are discouraged, rather, the one-word "Thanks!" and non-specific "I appreciate your help"-esque responses. I do realize that a personalized note of thanks is allowable... –  anorton Nov 27 '12 at 23:29
    
I keep a button on typical human interaction being understood practised. –  Eivind Dahl Nov 27 '12 at 23:48
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Thanks for this question. Glad to help! –  Graphth Nov 28 '12 at 1:30
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It would be sad, and more than a touch ironic, if etiquette discouraged politeness. –  copper.hat Dec 6 '12 at 3:08
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I understood from the earlier discussion that the StackExchange manegement, and Jeff Atwood in particular, is against such comments, and that consensus among se.math users and moderators was in favor of them. Since I like such comments, and don't care what Jeff Atwood thinks, I continue to leave them. –  MJD Dec 8 '12 at 23:06
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1 Answer

up vote 6 down vote accepted

As fretje says, an up-vote is much better than saying "thanks". If you feel you must say "thanks" or "you're welcome", try to add a bit more of why. If you can't think of more to say than "glad to help", then perhaps it is enough to simply accept the thanks.

Clarification

Politeness and gratitude are important in a form of communication that is often seen as impersonal. I did not mean to imply otherwise. However, a large number of "thanks" and "welcome" comments can become overwhelming since they involve such a large amount of screen real estate for such a short comment.

Furthermore, I think that saying more than simply "thanks" or "welcome", describing why the answer was meaningful, makes for a more personalized comment.

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I am a person before I am a SE user. Short statements of gratitude are polite, and always welcome in (on?) my answers. If viewing them as noise is the popular opinion, I don't mind being in the minority. –  The Chaz 2.0 Nov 27 '12 at 18:43
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@TheChaz: I agree that politeness and gratitude are important in a form of communication that is often seen as impersonal. I did not mean to imply otherwise. However, a large number of "thanks" and "welcome" comments can become overwhelming since they involve such a large amount of screen real estate for such a short comment. This is why I usually try to say more in my "thanks" and "welcome" comments. I also think that that makes for a more personalized comment. –  robjohn Nov 27 '12 at 21:40
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-1 I don't see this large amout of screen real estate. If I would have to scroll by every "Thanks!" ever posted to see math, I might agree. But usually, you read this after you read the actual answer to the question. It's up to you to stick around for the politeness and social part after your intellectual curiosity has been satified. –  Michael Greinecker Nov 28 '12 at 0:07
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@MichaelGreinecker: Thanks for your comment. Aside from the ratio of screen real estate vs comment length, I think it is more meaningful to respond with more of a comment than simply "thanks". It shows more thought, attention, and appreciation. –  robjohn Nov 28 '12 at 0:13
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Thanks for this answer. –  Graphth Nov 28 '12 at 1:28
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@Michael: You do have to scroll past all of the comments on the question before you get to an answer. And to scroll from the first answer to the second answer, you have to scroll past all of the comments on the first answer. Additionally, if you want to read follow-up discussion that happens in the comments, you would have to wade through any content-free comments in order to get to the ones with content; in the extreme cases, the content-free comments will steal space in the default 'show less comments' default view, as is likely to happen with Graphth's comment should this thread continue. –  Hurkyl Dec 6 '12 at 18:40
    
@Hurkyl Usually, thank you comments don't get upvoted that much, s the problem seems to be minor in practice. –  Michael Greinecker Dec 7 '12 at 8:24
    
@MichaelGreinecker: comments do not move due to the number of votes they get. They stay in chronological order. Take, for example, Graphth's comment three before this one. –  robjohn Dec 7 '12 at 15:27
    
@robjohn When there are many comments, they collapse and highly voted comments come to the top. If you expand them, you see them in chronological order. When they are in chronological order, they do not really crowd out much. –  Michael Greinecker Dec 7 '12 at 15:47
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