Since the beginning of mi.yodeya 1.0, I've made it my practice to welcome new users. I'd like to make it clear that while I'm happy to continue doing this whenever I get the opportunity, anyone else who wants to is more than welcome to also do it (as some have).

Here's the pattern I usually follow:

  • I wait until I see a question or answer from a new user that I think is on-topic and at all valuable. (If I'm not sure if the user is new, I click into the user profile and see if there are any prior valuable questions or answers.)

  • If the content is upvote-worthy, I upvote the question or answer.

  • I leave a comment on it starting with something like:

    @user, Welcome to Mi Yodeya, and thanks very much for the [positive adjective] question/answer!

  • If the question or answer could use some improvement (e.g. adding a source), I add guidance to that effect.

  • If an answer seems too much like a comment or discussion, I add something along the lines of this formula (adapted from Monica Cellio's):

    We're a little different from other sites; this isn't a discussion forum but a Q&A site, where we reserve the answer space for answers. Please check out our short [tour]. Could you please [edit] this to more directly address the question?

  • If the new user is unregistered (which will apparent from the word "Unregistered" near the top of the user's /users/[number] page), I add something like:

    Please consider [registering](http://judaism.stackexchange.com/users/login) your account, to [enable](http://meta.stackexchange.com/questions/44557/why-should-i-register-my-account) more site features, including voting.

  • If the new user apparently doesn't have a user-defined name (i.e. their username starts with "user"), I add something like:

    I suggest that you [edit your profile](http://judaism.stackexchange.com/users/edit/current) and give yourself a name!

  • If the user posted a question that appears to be asking for rabbinic guidance, I'll add some variation of YeZ and Shokhet's formula for that:

    Can you [edit] your question to make it less personal? We [try to avoid practical halachic questions](//meta.judaism.stackexchange.com/q/1734). You might also want to see "[Why is it necessary to ask a rabbi?](//judaism.stackexchange.com/q/9146)" for more info.

  • If there's still room in the comment, I like to encourage further exploration, with something like:

    I hope you'll look around and find other Q&A of interest, perhaps starting with our 100+ other [tag:whatever] questions.

Meta: This principle applies to meta too; we want to encourage active participation here. When a user makes a valuable meta post or comment for the first time, we should use something like the following:

@User, welcome to meta and thanks for the [positive adjective] question/answer/comment. Meta is where the community works out policy, tagging, scope, and other issues about the site, and I look forward to your contributions to those discussions.

This is more of a statement than a question, but any feedback on or suggested alterations to this practice are welcome as answers.

test

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Very nice of you, it does give a good feeling to the site. Only thing is that it might not be correct to necessarily upvote it, just because the user is new... yes, it give a better feeling than a downvote (and even having the question closed...), but it also reinforces whatever "behavior" is displayed in the question. Often first questions (and answers) are poor questions, either topic, phrasing, or e.g. lack of sources. Upvoting that would reinforce it. –  AviD Jun 5 '11 at 6:27
    
@AviD That's the reason for Step 1. I wait until the user posts something upvote-worthy. –  Isaac Moses Jun 5 '11 at 7:08
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Ah, good point - I missed that. In which case, I would suggest having a parallel pattern for posts that are not upvote worthy... I would try to catch those early, too, to include some "corrective action" together with a welcoming comment.... –  AviD Jun 5 '11 at 7:36
    
@AviD - Good point. That's more or less what I do, come to think of it. I've updated my steps accordingly. –  Isaac Moses Jun 5 '11 at 7:40
    
You just wanted an excuse to use the /user/current link, didn't you? :P –  Shokhet Jan 28 at 4:22
    
@Shokhet, adderabba! I've been manually constructing /user/### links for this purpose for years. As soon as I learned that this form existed, I shouted "Zeh yenachameinu!" –  Isaac Moses Jan 28 at 4:26
    
@IsaacMoses 8^D –  Shokhet Jan 28 at 4:34
    
The incorporation of the help link here is interesting judaism.stackexchange.com/questions/57535/… –  Double AA Apr 22 at 3:38
    
Could someone please 1) modify the OP to make it editable and 2) change the title to "Suggestions regarding how to welcome new users"? –  unforgettableid May 11 at 3:13
    
@unforgettableid, it's already editable by anyone with 2000 rep points. Why do you feel that the title needs more words? –  Isaac Moses May 11 at 3:29
    
@IsaacMoses: A. I don't have 2000 rep. :) B. When people view the meta.judaism.stackexchange.com homepage and see a link to your post, the longer title will give them a better idea of what the post is about. I personally am a big fan of good titles, and have many times edited posts on the main site to improve their titles. –  unforgettableid May 11 at 22:08

3 Answers 3

Yes! Certainly. Every advocate for Jewish Life & Learning should regularly visit the /review path for just that purpose!

http://judaism.stackexchange.com/review/

How to Review

These are the first answers a new user has ever submitted to Jewish Life and Learning.

New users may not always understand how our site works. Please review these posts and vote, comment, or flag them appropriately.

This is a great way to increase retention of new users on your site. It's not just the glowing praise or a hearty "good job" that keeps users interested in the site (although that is nice), but ANY sign that someone saw their post (question-answers, comments, acknowledgements, etc) will greatly increase the chance that that user will return to the site.

At 200 rep, a review entry appears in the top menu; at 10k rep it switches to tools. We'll be linking to /review from tools as well, probably as a pseudo-tab.

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Thanks for the reinforcement. Your insight about any attention at all being valuable to the user makes a lot of sense to me. I certainly feel different about anything I write in any context when I get the first evidence at all that someone's read it. –  Isaac Moses Jun 6 '11 at 19:08

Background information (you can ignore this)

The phrase "unregistered account" sounds like an oxymoron. In truth, what is an unregistered account? Let me explain.

Stack Exchange is interesting. It allows a new user to create an "unregistered" (cookie-based) account; it requires only that they provide an email address. And then they can gain badges and reputation. They can also ask and answer questions; but they can't vote until they convert their account into a "registered" (login-based) account. This system is overall probably very worthwhile. By reducing barriers to entry, it probably brings us lots of new users. But since the system occasionally fails miserably, we should indeed encourage unregistered users to register.

A suggestion

Asking users to "please consider registering your account, which will give you access to more of the site's features" is perhaps too general. It'd be best to give one or two specific examples of features which the user can gain.

Isaac, how do you like this?:

Please consider registering your account. If you have enough reputation points, registration will allow you to cast upvotes, to cast downvotes, and more.

P.S. In general: Thank you, Isaac, for thank you for creating your "how to welcome new users" guide, and thank you for having doled out so many warm welcomes over the years!

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Thanks for the support and suggestion. I edited that passage to mention voting in particular. I'd rather keep the character count down if possible, since it often goes in the same comment with other information. –  Isaac Moses May 11 at 13:51

I recommend that, perhaps not in an initial welcoming note, but after it is clear that a user is here for more than one post and for more than one day, the user be referred to "Where do you live?".


Update: For even better ideas, see comments on this answer.

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I would say this should wait for them to be active at least a week, if not more. –  Double AA May 23 '13 at 14:42
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Per Daniel's point that our main targets are committed community members and also because we don't want to seem creepy to people who just show up to anonymously ask or answer a question, I'd recommend a higher bar - perhaps that of established user (1000 rep). –  Isaac Moses May 23 '13 at 15:39
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Example: judaism.stackexchange.com/questions/14671/… –  Isaac Moses May 23 '13 at 16:29
    
I think it still seems stalkerish. If they wanted to share it, they could put it in their profile. –  Shmuel Brin May 26 '13 at 23:14
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I think that asking them how they found this site is more practical, as 1. people aren't scared to divulge that information and 2. it could help see where our demographics come from and how to recruit newcomers. –  Shmuel Brin May 26 '13 at 23:15
    
@ShmuelBrin re "asking them how they found...": I agree that that's valuable (though we know a little of that info from referer headers) but that seems orthogonal to this, in the sense that it's independent of it and we can work on either without the other or on both. –  msh210 May 27 '13 at 0:26
    

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