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I've been here for a little while. I am still a low-reputation of SE, with most of my involvement being here. I know that each SE has it's own personality, somewhat derived from the charter, somewhat from the written standards, and somewhat determined by the customary practices in the community.

I have found from reading many answers that the first line is often "soft". A welcome to a new user. A word of appreciation for the question. A social throat-clearing before jumping into the substance of the answer. Over time, I have adopted this form myself, especially with a user who is new to 3D Printing SE.

Three days ago, one of my answers was edited to remove the preliminary social lubricant. I'm fine with this, and I understand it is in keeping with the position that the value of SE to the investors is in the responsive content of the answers, not in the social glue. I would have approved the edits myself except that one can not do that from the app. Today, I connected through a desktop and found that the edit had been auto-approved. Again, no problem.

But to the question.

We want to be welcoming to new users, and we hope they will stay close to the site and become active members. To do so requires communication, the informal, person-to-person communication that builds oxytocin rather than facts. This doesn't fit the business purpose of SE, but it is necessary to support the mission of SE which must succeed for the business to succeed.

Is the right method to:

  1. Welcome people in an answer,
  2. Welcome people in a comment, where it is also not appropriate,
  3. Do not welcome people -- just stick to the facts, or
  4. Welcome people in an answer but go back later and strip it out?
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I struggled with the same question since I saw the edit, good that you brought this to Meta! Thanks!

As the community of regular and active members is limited, I think it is okay to welcome people in a comment or an answer. It would be a shame to scare people away after their first question, resulting in abandoned questions and unaccepted answers. But, we do need to conform to the Q&A format and sometimes need to remind people this isn't a forum of threaded messages and we do have some rules to participate. We have created some standard comments that welcome and thank new members but at the same time lead them to the rules of the site.

It might be a good idea to approach first time (SE) members friendly. Welcoming comments can and tend to be deleted after a while when users aren't new anymore (everybody can raise a flag on a comment to vote for ”It's no longer needed"). So option 4 would be my preferred option.

Personally I think this site is more welcoming than larger sites as SO for instance. My first experiences at SO didn't make me feel welcome.

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    $\begingroup$ @0scar, thanks for your reply. I feel aligned with you here. Welcoming is fine, perhaps even good, but expect to either edit one's own answer or have it edited later. I'm OK with that approach. $\endgroup$ – cmm Sep 13 '20 at 23:28
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    $\begingroup$ @cmm I've been thinking a little more on this subject and think we can welcome people even better by appreciating their questions and content by voting on their contributions. Please consider voting more often! If the question is not up to par, edit the question or guide the user and then upvote! The sooner they reach 50 the sooner they can leave comments and enter the public chat. $\endgroup$ – 0scar Mod Sep 14 '20 at 7:20
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I saw that suggested edit too, and I was unsure what to do and left it and then (lamentably) forgot to go back to it.

TBH, while it was a nice gesture to a new user, I think that the welcome was (sort of) out of place in the answer, purely because the welcome would age away with time, whereas the technical meat of the answer wouldn't... If that makes sense.

Sorry, I don't have time to post a longer answer, at the moment, but I'd say put the "welcome" in a ethereal comment, which can easily be cleaned up later, and keep the answers to be just that: technical info.

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