I have seen this scenario play out a few times where a new user kind of understands the idea and wants to participate, but doesn't understand the site rules or hasn't read them yet. Because of this and their desire to participate they post a lot in a short period.

While some of their posts are fine, others either break or don't quite follow the rules of the site. How can I encourage a user to keep using the site while also saying at the same time some of their posts need to be revised or removed?

  • 1
    Guide with the Staff, don't strike.
    – Malachi
    Commented Jul 29, 2014 at 20:25

3 Answers 3



In my experience, a new user that is bursting with participation soon after they join is very receptive to feedback, with the cavaet that the feedback must be plain, visible, and friendly to them.

If you take the initiative to open a line of communication with the user, you will be better served by doing so in a way that they will be notified that they have been communicated with. If your platform supports private messages or something comparable that will notify the user, these are usually the most direct means of communication.

While attentive, these users can also be fragile and unwelcoming to feedback that isn't construed as helpful or friendly. Make sure to have a friendly demeanor when constructing your message -- otherwise, your help may be ignored or resented.

Salvaging Content

It sounds like the user in question isn't a totally lost cause, which is good. When constructing a message to address your user, you will want to be able to reference the user's content that needs work, and offer helpful steps to improving that content.


  • If your platform has help pages, or a help-themed forum, be sure to link to them.
  • If editing content isn't necessarily easy or straightforward, you may want to offer guidance on this as well. Many woes of new users are caused by taking the first steps towards learning how to use a new platform.
  • Link to examples of good content that are related to what the user is trying to convey or express. We tend to emulate "good content" after we learn what "good content" is.

Continued Discussion

This is a very personal and one-on-one way of mentoring a new community member. Some communities have it so ingrained in their culture that they have templates for this sort of thing... Wikipedia is a good example: if you've ever made a first edit, it will likely have been followed up by a templatized welcome message by an established user.

You may need to be available to discuss or continue a line of communication with this user -- they may have additional questions. If you can't be available to do this, don't be afraid to invite other community members to welcome and mentor the user.

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    This is something that should be read by everyone on Stack Exchange. New users can get burned easily around here, even for little mistakes. Really good answer!
    – T. Sar
    Commented Jan 23, 2015 at 10:36

I just use a very welcoming attitude, explaining everything I do and why. I see it as an onboarding process - so on Software Recommendations, where we do quite a lot of deleting new user's answers, I leave a comment along the lines of:

Welcome to SR! I'm going to have to delete this because it doesn't follow <link to site guidelines - please, feel free to create a new answer (or [edit] this one) to incorperate the answer guidelines. For example, <list of questions for them to answer to make their answer better>. Again, welcome!

Usually I'm fairly lazy and use a template comment that I've tuned to fit most cases, but I try to (and really should) use a special comment for each scenario. This, I believe, helps the user feel welcome. You'd be surprised at how many 'converts' we have that learn the rules and turn out to be great contributers.

Essentially, just be nice, be honest, and assume they mean well.


Be nice and constructive!

The user should not see you as the evil moderator who wants to spoil all the fun. If the community supports it: Send a private message welcoming the user, talking about the issues (and referring to the rules) and telling them that you are willing to help him in case any questions about the community's culture arise.

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