I'm a fairly active curator on one of the Stack Exchange sites, and I do some curation on the other sites as well. In accordance with Should 'Hi', 'thanks', taglines, and salutations be removed from posts? I remove the following phrases when I come across them in posts:

  • Hi, how are you doing?

  • Hope you're having a good day.

  • Thanks for the help.

  • Thanks in advance.

  • Hope this helps.

  • You're welcome.

and so on.

When making these edits I like to explain why in the edit message. For some time now, I have been writing "Removed salutations". One definition of the word "salutation" in Merriam-Webster is:

an expression of greeting, goodwill, or courtesy by word, gesture, or ceremony

which seems to broadly cover what I want to say. However, I don't know if it's too specific, and whether it actually covers phrases such as "Hope this helps".

I have considered something along the lines of "Removed noise/clutter", but apart from the fact that this could be construed as slightly rude (users who add these phrases are doing it in good faith, after all), this describes why I'm removing that content more than describing what the content is that I'm removing.

So I'm looking for a phrase that conveys something along the lines of:

Removed extraneous text, which is perfectly reasonable in normal discourse, but is inappropriate for the Q&A format on Stack Exchange.

I'm not looking for a single word, but I also don't want the phrase to be longer than a few words. If there's an idiom that describes this, that would be great as well.

  • 4
    You could call them Pleasantries – Jim Mar 7 at 4:38
  • 1
    @Jim That's not a bad idea. Would "civilities" work as well? They both appear to be synonyms of "salutations" as well. – cigien Mar 7 at 4:41
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    It's all padding. When decluttering, I'd say "Removed distractions from a good question." – Yosef Baskin Mar 7 at 4:41
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    Tidied up the off-topic content to better match the preferred format on Stack Exchange? – Phil Sweet Mar 7 at 5:02
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    @Xanne I'm sorry, I don't follow. Which Meta site would this be appropriate on? I'm not asking about whether that content should be removed, I'm taking that as a given. I'm asking what language I should use in the edit message, which seems to be on-topic for ELU. – cigien Mar 7 at 5:19

To a linguist this is phatic use of language, defined in Lexico as "Denoting or relating to language used for general purposes of social interaction, rather than to convey information or ask questions. Utterances such as hello, how are you? and nice morning, isn't it? are phatic."

  • Ok, this is excellent :) I'm not sure I'm going to start using this in my edit messages, since it might (likely) confuse the average user. But I'm really glad to learn this word. – cigien Jul 5 at 15:46

You could think along the lines of Word Prune. Padding Prune, etc. Turn it into an emoticon and sit the emoticon alongside an OP's Avatar/Logo (almost reminds me of a Pacman) to remind them to prune their sentences. If no joy - "sentence will be pruned in t-minus....."


What does the prefix Lexi mean?

lexico-, lexi-, lex-, -lexia, -lexias, -lexic, -lectic, -lexis (Greek: a word; a saying, a phrase; speaking).

Closely related to legi-, ligi-, lig-, lect-, -lectic (Latin: read, readable [to choose words; gather, collect; to pick out, choose; to read, recite]).

Prune (verb)

to reduce something by removing things that are not necessary:

Arco has reacted to the loss in revenue by pruning (back) its expansion plans. I felt his essay needed a little pruning.


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