19
\$\begingroup\$

Pre-made comments are awesome. They're also super powerful tools. Let's workshop some new ones and improve the old ones!

You've probably seen pre-made comments[i] used across the site by moderators, both diamond and not. They're efficient and help reduce the busywork of moderation[ii], but they're also an important tool for setting the tone of interaction on our Stack:

  • A friendly and polite comment leaves folks open to correction, not defensive.
  • A comment linking to the relevant meta or help pages does wonders for community education.
  • A comment indicating that rules and guidelines help improve a user's experience can lead a new user to participate in the site's culture happily and to pass it on to others.
  • When a comment needs to be customised for a particular situation, having a template to start from helps us write new comments which also do these things. It’s hard to accomplish all of this on the fly all the time; pre-made comments mean most of the effort’s already been put in.

So I've got two questions that I'm hoping this meta can answer:

  1. What situations do we frequently encounter on the site which would benefit from pre-made comments?
    We've got a good start with an earlier collection, but there's currently a widely acknowledged need for pre-made comments that cover other situations. What have you noticed?

  2. What pre-made comments do we need to meet those situations, and how can they best model the tone of discourse we want on the site?
    Again, the earlier “pro-forma” post gives us a good beginning. If those comments can be improved, please help us figure out how. And for our brand-new pre-made comments, we need everyone's help designing those.

Obviously everyone will take something slightly different away from this thread. Nobody's expected to use a comment they don't like, and I expect most of us will personalise the comments as we use them. If you think your personalisation would be useful to others, please come back and share it here! My goal with this thread is to foster awareness of the powerful tool these comments are, and to create a pool of resources so we can all use pre-made comments more effectively.

Thank you for your service, citizens!

i. Brian called them “pro-forma” comments for “modal” situations, which is technically accurate but a) confusingly jargonistic and b) “pro-forma” has common connotations of “the absolute minimum we had to do” and that’s exactly what these comments shouldn’t feel like. “Pre-made” is more accessible and means our comments will be Exactly What It Says On The Tin.
ii. If you use pre-made comments and haven't seen this auto-comment script, please check it out. A lot of folks find it very helpful when implementing pre-made comments on the site.

\$\endgroup\$
9
\$\begingroup\$

Question, answer, and accept all within a short timeframe. (<1hr, often)

This often happens with new/inexperienced users. This may discourage later answers from coming along. This may discourage voting, as voters my see diminished utility if their vote isn't helping to inform OP.

The comment I tend to leave looks something like:

Thanks for accepting my answer, @user. I'll note that you've done so rather quickly. Please know that it's perfectly fine to wait hours or even days to accept an answer — if at all! Also, if another answer comes along later that better solves your problem know that you have the ability to un-accept mine and accept another.

I'm trying here to both encourage the OP to wait a bit and to indicate to passers-by that the question's still 'live.'


A quick accept like described above on an incorrect answer I once gave led to my accepted answer is factually incorrect--no recourse? I'd have been glad for OP keeping their finger off the button so that I could have just deleted the wrong post, rather than needing mod attention and sitting out there causing arguments among other (correct!) answerers.

\$\endgroup\$
  • 6
    \$\begingroup\$ I used to leave these comments and no longer think they're useful. There's no problem with just accepting a straightforward good answer right away. If someone posts a better answer, the author can accept that one. Part of the reason we were leaving these was out of some notion it'd discourage new answers, but I don't see it having much effect on that either way. If people think they can do a better job than the accepted answer, I'd rather people rise to that challenge. We should avoid a culture of giving up on providing awesome answers just because another's accepted. \$\endgroup\$ – doppelgreener Feb 29 '16 at 0:57
  • \$\begingroup\$ Please all go read this: meta.stackexchange.com/questions/9731/… before debating quick-answers, as you will want to say something other than has been said before on this well trod issue. \$\endgroup\$ – mxyzplk Mar 4 '16 at 1:14
6
\$\begingroup\$

I'd like to share some tools and tips I've found useful in making comments be nicer and more useful. If you've got some, please edit them in!

  • Avoid "you" unless I really mean it. If I'm talking about a generic/theoretical individual who my audience may similar to, I'll re-write it to talk about "users" or "querents" or whatever that group actually is. This makes the comment feel less accusatory, whatever the subject actually is.
  • Avoid "we" unless I really mean it. If I'm talking about a group of people of whom both I and my audience are a part, I'll re-write it to talk about "citizens" or "answerers" or whatever that group actually is. "We" is sometimes presumptuous, or --more often-- sounds like "we the people who are talking to you" rather than "you and I."
  • Look for opportunities to link to the Help, Tour, and relevant meta posts. Abbreviations like [help] and [about] are awesome for this. It puts folks in touch with parts of the site they may have missed and helps them understand the context of the suggestions being made. Without that context the site can feel arbitrary and opaque.
  • If I've got room, I throw in a line about the reason my suggestion is personally helpful to the hearer, like "so answers can better address your specific situation" or "so experts can find your question more easily."
  • When I'm leaving a comment for a new user, I throw on "Hi, and welcome to RPG.SE!" or something similar at the beginning.
  • The phrase "a Q&A site rather than a traditional forum" is useful in a ton of contexts.
  • When suggesting a change to a question or answer, use the phrase "please edit." This alerts folks that a comment response is neither necessary nor sufficient.
  • Really, avoid the unnecessary "you." Whenever I can phrase something as my behaviour instead of someone else's, I do. I could've made these bullet points say "unless you really mean it" and "if you've got room" and "when you're leaving a comment," but it's my experience and I can only hope you find it useful; I shouldn't imply I have authority to tell you how to write your comments.
\$\endgroup\$
  • 8
    \$\begingroup\$ Don't use querent. This Stack is the only place I've ever seen that word used, and I'm a native English speaker/reader. I personally like it better than asker, but asker will serve much better when addressing a broad audience. \$\endgroup\$ – Jeffrey Bosboom Mar 13 '16 at 22:23
5
\$\begingroup\$

Don't signal edits

Bryan's got a great post on the topic, which I often link to both in edit summaries and in comments. Something like:

Hi, [user]. There's no need to signal edits, as the revision history is easily visible. (Just click on the "edited X ago" link.) In fact, it's preferable that posts read as a seamless presentation of your final ideas.

Optionally ending with:

That's why I've made the edit I did. Please check my work to be sure I've preserved your original meaning.

\$\endgroup\$
4
\$\begingroup\$

Scratchpad: Non-obvious use of [rules-as-written], please clarify

A place to put comments that have been used/worked “in the wild” for getting clarifications about askers' use of the tag, as a gathering process and prelude to figuring out a good pre-made comment for the purpose.


  • Can you put into your question the purpose behind using the [rules-as-written] tag? Currently this appears to just be a “rules clarification” question, not a “what happens when the rules are treated rigidly and logically” question. If it's not the former, can you add the missing portion that makes it the latter?

\$\endgroup\$
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ I get that things are moving slowly in the quest to define the tag, but this comment still seems premature. I do not think that this comment accurately conveys the necessary distinction to users. \$\endgroup\$ – KRyan Mar 9 '16 at 20:39
  • \$\begingroup\$ @KRyan Just a scratchpad of comments I've been using. As I said, this is already a thing I'm doing; I've only suggested that the rest of the community join in. \$\endgroup\$ – SevenSidedDie Mar 9 '16 at 20:48
  • \$\begingroup\$ Your behavior in this regard feels very much like you are going behind the back of the community, unilaterally deciding to move forward with a proposal that has been met with some resistance and accepted only with a very important caveat that you are now disregarding. And this answer is exactly indicative of the sort of problem that incited the need for that caveat. \$\endgroup\$ – KRyan Mar 9 '16 at 20:56
  • \$\begingroup\$ @KRyan Before the community at large adopts the practice, sure, that was said. But before I wrote that meta I was already doing it; it didn't require community-wide adoption before and still doesn't. I don't plan to stop trying to improve the site while the community hammers out a pre-made comment. But that said, you'll notice I haven't collected many comments in this post—out in the real workaday Main rather than the idealised one we seem to end up arguing over, there hasn't been much need for such comments, off the cuff or otherwise, so there's no call for alarm regardless of position. \$\endgroup\$ – SevenSidedDie Mar 9 '16 at 21:04
  • \$\begingroup\$ Suffice to say I completely disagree with you, on this, on what moderation here should mean, and about what behavior in light of meta is appropriate. \$\endgroup\$ – KRyan Mar 9 '16 at 21:10
  • \$\begingroup\$ @KRyan I personally haven't somehow forgotten that crowdsourced site maintenance using non-mod powers is a basic feature of the site available with minimal rep, nor do I feel it would be especially wise in taking best-practices advice from someone who seems to have somehow momentarily forgotten that. \$\endgroup\$ – SevenSidedDie Mar 9 '16 at 21:11
  • \$\begingroup\$ I have no idea what you seem to be trying to obliquely refer to. \$\endgroup\$ – KRyan Mar 9 '16 at 21:12
  • 4
    \$\begingroup\$ @KRyan Commenting takes 50 rep, and editing takes 2k. I don't quite understand what could make someone think I need wait on their personal approval before I use such privileges constructively and for their intended purpose, but note that I do not—nor does anyone else—require such pre-approval. If you see comments that are not constructive or contain inappropriate content, use the flag system, okay? That's what it's for. \$\endgroup\$ – SevenSidedDie Mar 9 '16 at 21:25
  • \$\begingroup\$ Let us continue this discussion in chat. \$\endgroup\$ – KRyan Mar 9 '16 at 21:31
4
\$\begingroup\$

Here are most of the comments I've felt are important/common enough to standardise for myself, or adopt others' standards. I often string together two or more comments, sometimes merging them into compound sentences so they feel less choppy and formulaic.

GENERAL INFO & UTILITY

  • Welcome to rpg.se! Please take a look at the [tour], it's a useful introduction to the site.
  • Stack Exchange is a Q&A site, not a traditional discussion forum.
  • Comments are for helping clarify or improve questions and answers. To thank someone for their contribution, upvote the post!
  • If you want to discuss RPG things in a less structured format, the [chat] is always open.
  • It's important to ["back it up,"](http://meta.rpg.stackexchange.com/q/3204/4398) so answers should cite experience or other practical support of the concept.
    • Please avoid untested speculation.
  • [Links to external resources are encouraged](http://rpg.stackexchange.com/help/how-to-answer), but
    • please add context around the link so your fellow users will have some idea what it is and why it’s there.
    • always quote the most relevant part of an important link, in case the target site is unreachable or goes permanently offline.
  • Please don't link to third party hosts of proprietary content, as they [succumb to link rot](http://meta.rpg.stackexchange.com/a/2773/4398).
  • Advertisements and self-promotion [must follow certain guidelines](http://rpg.stackexchange.com/help/promotion).
  • It's important that we each do our best to [be nice](http://meta.stackexchange.com/help/be-nice) even when others aren't.
  • This comment discussion should be taken to [meta] so more folks can weigh in and it's searchably preserved for the future.
  • I've edited this old question to better match our current understanding of what encourages quality answers.
  • Because [comments are temporary](http://rpg.stackexchange.com/help/privileges/comment), please [edit] useful information into your post.
  • I've edited your post to be a little more clear; if I've gotten the meaning wrong please feel free to revert the edit.
  • It's preferable that posts read as a seamless presentation of your final ideas. There's no need to [signal edits](http://meta.rpg.stackexchange.com/q/3454), as the revision history is easily visible: just click on the "edited X ago" link below the post.

QUESTIONS

  • I'm not sure what you're asking.
    • Titles, while useful summaries for questions, do not replace the question itself.
    • Please describe the problem or challenge you're facing, rather than [just asking for help with the solution you've decided is best](http://meta.stackexchange.com/q/66377/244929).
    • Please [edit] your question to tell us about your own research, and specifically what you're confused by in what you've found.
    • If you feel that your question is not a duplicate of the one indicated, please [edit] your question to showcase how it's different.
    • Please read [our guidelines for asking about house rules](http://meta.rpg.stackexchange.com/q/6274/4398) and [edit] your question accordingly.
    • are value calls that we can't make for you.
  • If you have follow-up questions, we welcome them as new questions, or as a clarifying [edit] to your original question.
  • You'll probably find the [gaming.se] or [gamedev.se] Stack Exchange sites more useful than we can be.
  • Tags structure our database of questions for sorting and searching, so correct tags are necessary to attract experts and to help future users with the same question (a core part of the Stack's mission).
  • The [[tag:rules-as-written]] tag is specifically used to indicate that you're only interested in strict literal readings of the rules.
  • This question is off-topic because
    • [answers rely on historical rather than RPG expertise](http://meta.rpg.stackexchange.com/a/1609/4398).
    • it's [asking us to reproduce rules, rather than explain them](http://meta.rpg.stackexchange.com/a/5274/4398).
    • undirected, open-ended speculation produces more noise than value.
    • it's a [request for system or setting recommendations](http://meta.rpg.stackexchange.com/q/5747/4398).
  • RPG-specific legal questions [are on topic](http://meta.rpg.stackexchange.com/q/5564/4398).

ANSWERS

  • [Brevity is acceptable, but full explanations are better](http://rpg.stackexchange.com/help/how-to-answer).
  • The question has been edited. Please check if you feel any edits to your answer are merited in response.
  • Answers need to focus on solutions to the problem being asked about.
    • You can [ask new questions](http://rpg.stackexchange.com/questions/ask) independently.
  • Please double-check that your answer matches the system the asker is using and [edit] it accordingly.
  • Please [edit] in sources for your information.
  • If people are missing what I'm saying in my last paragraphs, I find it helps to re-shuffle my answer to lead with the answer itself, then offers support and context for the solution.
  • The Stack wants answers which connect all the dots, without leaving anything as an exercise for the reader.
\$\endgroup\$

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .