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The following comment (or variations) of it are popular on Christianity SE and other SE sites.

Welcome to Christianity SE! If you haven't already, please check out the tour page.

Example

Is this helpful?

I see this as noisy. The site already says "Take the 2-minute tour" when someone comes here. This comment will likely exist forever, even after the OP has garnered 1000s of reputation, become a moderator, died, and gone to heaven.

Is adding comments to questions or answers the right place to offer this welcome?

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    I think a ridiculous number of people totally ignore the 2-minute tour. :P – El'endia Starman Jul 23 '14 at 3:33
  • @El'endiaStarman, agreed. I've never taken it. But do we comment on every question and answer they have? – Paul Draper Jul 23 '14 at 3:34
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    @PaulDraper - not every question/answer. Maybe on the first questions/answers. Definitely on problem questions/answers. – David Stratton Jul 23 '14 at 4:21
  • Yes, they are helpful. But it doesn't stop there. If you are viewing the site regularly you will see these people post again, and will likely need help again. – 3961 Jul 23 '14 at 16:09
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    It's easy to check whether a new user has taken the tour. If they have no badges, they have not taken it. If they do have one or more badges, you can just look at their user profile, and click the "Activity" tab and "Badges" if all their badges don't show up on the default page. If a new user has taken the tour, I thank them for taking the tour instead of linking them to it. – Lee Woofenden Feb 13 '17 at 19:53
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Good question. I probably do it more than others. I guess I'd like to know how that's perceived by the community.

For reference, one of the reasons I became more active in doing this was as a reaction to this post: Why not have new members go through a general introduction page?.

I generally tend to do this while reviewing the First Posts queue that's available to higher rep users. (500 rep and above). The ones that start with "Welcome the site!" (at least from me) are always the ones in the "First Posts" queue, so I'm intentionally focusing on first ever questions or answers from brand new users where the words "Welcome to the site are used. (Most recent example here)

On subsequent posts from users, I have a different set of comments and links to Meta posts ready to address specific issues within each question. (The list of comments I had ready a few months back is here, but it's ever-changing.)

Typically, when reviewing first post, I'm focusing on new users first posts simply because almost EVERYONE (including me) mistakes the purpose of C.SE at first.

I personally think it's helpful because:

Before we (not just me, there are several of us) started doing this, the normal pattern was that new users would come around and, because they were new, nobody corrected them on borderline posts. So they'd post several "Truthy" (or otherwise low-quality/off-topic) questions, and eventually someone would notice the pattern and start voting down, closing questions, and commenting. So the reaction was exactly as Bye's reaction: "I had no clue! Why didn't someone tell me nicely up front?"

I don't see it as scolding. I certainly understand how it can be seen as noise. But I can't think of a more friendly way to introduce new people to the rules.

And, contrary to how it may be perceived, not everyone gets this greeting. On those rare occasions where the first post is exactly on-topic, I tend to not comment, but if the post is questionable, I always use this as a first comment as a gentle introduction to the rules. There are exceptions to this, of course. If you look, you'll see some that I have included statements like "This next has nothing to do with the quality of your post..." I posted one just tonight. Those might be useless noise. I'm not sure, which is why I'm glad you asked.

The reason there are so many comments like this is, from what I can tell, because most first posts are simply not within the guidelines. The standard comments posting to the help and Meta posts are the least snark, most friendly method I can personally think of to educate about the rules, and avoid the whole "Why didn't someone say something" bewilderment.

So officially, my personal opinion is that they are not a bad thing if there's a problem with the initial posts, if they're used as a tool to educate newcomers that show signs of not getting it.

But that's my personal opinion. I am extremely interested in seeing how this is perceived by the rest of the community. If the community hates it, I would hope that instead of a blanket "I hate this" we can come up with better alternatives. Worst case scenario, this may turn out to be something that's noisy and annoying, but that's better than letting bad posts stand, or using a less friendly set of comments to deal with the situation.

As long as there's an alternative that treats the newcomers the way we, personally, would like to be treated, I'm all for it.

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    "On those rare occasions where the first post is exactly on-topic, I tend to not comment." You may follow this, but I've seen it for on-topic question too. – Paul Draper Jul 23 '14 at 4:21
  • @PaulDraper - Agreed. I guess what I'd like to see from other answers is whether there's a preference for the welcomes on all first posts, or just problematic ones. As I said later, for me there are exceptions. I do post welcomes to some first posts that aren't as problematic, and not to others. – David Stratton Jul 23 '14 at 4:39
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    I would rather see it only on problematic posts. If someone already goes through the tour, as they should when they visit the first time, suggesting in a post "Thanks for the great question! Now take the tour!" seems possibly offensive to me... (my 2¢) – Flimzy Jul 25 '14 at 21:38
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I can't really speak for C.SE, but in general, the welcome is just being polite, the real point of the comment is to say "You are doing something wrong, visit that tour that you ignored when we tried to show it to you before because you are not doing it right."

On the sites I'm either a moderator or a more active poster on, I'm almost always only saying Welcome to avoid the new guy feeling burned and almost never welcome someone who is doing well, other than to give a +1 to his or her question or answer.

The point of comments is to help improve the question or answer if there is an issue with it that needs to be addressed. If a user is new to the site, they are going to feel like we are dropping the hammer on them if we just say "you did this wrong, fix it." The first message we want to send is "We want you to be here, we think you have value to add to the community..." After that, we then want to add "however... there are some things that could be/need to be better if you want to be successful here." This kind of feedback on how to improve and work better with the community is exactly what comments are designed for.

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