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I just read an answer to another question, in which Roger Attrill wrote:

You might not need to say Thank you if this is a very frequent action or if your user's won't appreciate the nicety - just say Scheduling report...!

I'm reminded of the following passage from About Face 3:

Nass and Reeves suggest that software should be polite, but the authors prefer the term considerate. Although politeness could be construed as a matter of protocol—saying please and thank you, but doing little else helpful—being truly considerate means putting the needs of others first. Considerate software has the goals and needs of its users as its primary concern beyond its basic functions.

Does expressing thankfulness make the interface more friendly, or is it presumptuous for a subordinate machine to suppose its master has any interest in its own well being?

Should software ever say "thank you"?

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"This is heavy!" –  Rahul Sep 20 '11 at 18:09
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4 Answers 4

up vote 15 down vote accepted

I think having software that thanks people adds a kind of anthropomorphic noise to the interactions that end up backfiring when the software doesn't cooperate and people infer intentions behind the problems.

I believe software should only convey thanks from the entities behind it, not as if the software itself is grateful for something. The best example is when you register a trial installation; once the registration code is confirmed, many applications will present a message of thanks from the makers for becoming a paying customer. Some add nice touches like a heart graphic or smilie face to bring a bit more personality into that moment. In those moments, the software is connecting me to the intentions and motivations of the vendor, and it comes across as genuine; in general use of the software, not so much.

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Thanks for adding the link. It's definitely an anti-pattern to be wary of. –  Todd Sieling Sep 22 '11 at 17:33
    
That link came up as an attack site in my filter, you might want to check if it's still valid –  Yamikuronue Apr 24 '12 at 16:48
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Quoting Joel (Designing for people who have better things to do with their lives)

In fact, users don't read anything.

Even adding the word "please" to a dialog, which may seem helpful and polite, is going to slow people down: the increased bulk of the wording is going to reduce, by some measurable percentage, the number of people who read the text.

Without the completely unnecessary "thank you" and the remorse-inspiring "are you sure?", this dialog is a lot less likely to cause problems.

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We do try to behave polite in real life too, even though it takes a little more time... –  Bluewater Sep 21 '11 at 9:47
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True but you're interacting with a machine and just want to get your job done... Fact is most people don't read these messages and the shorter they are the likelier it is people will read them. Compare "Exit now?" to "Thank you for using our software. Are you sure you want to exit?". –  Omar Kohl Sep 21 '11 at 11:06
    
A good point Omar, but what I really want to highlight is the question if our goal is to enhance productivity on the expense of the users experience after the service is provided and the task is fulfilled. I will probably be more positive to return to a company where the employees have been more friendly and service minded. –  Bluewater Sep 21 '11 at 11:28
    
I find long dialogs annoying no matter how polite they are. If the developer designed the app having me (the user) in mind I'm grateful for that and might return to purchase another program. My productivity (as a user) is probably my number 1 goal. As long as you don't annoy the user, being polite is definitely very good. Better than insulting him anyway :-P. –  Omar Kohl Sep 21 '11 at 11:38
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I believe there is a big difference between "thank you" and "please" messages.

My answer focuses on "thank you" messages.

If the software is user friendly, the software will not say "thank you" to the user, but the user will say "thank you" to the software.

What I mean by this is if your software is conceived in such a way that you feel the need to add "thank you" messages in there, there is probably something fundamentally wrong with the software. It seems that the user is performing tasks for the software. It is the software that should perform tasks for the user. If the user regularly is being thanked by the software he will not feel appreciated at all, but he will feel that the software is in control, instead of himself. So it might have the exact opposite effect of what you expect.

Considering this I don't see any place where it is appropriate to add "thank you" messages, except for registration or purchase operations.

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Your software can say things like "Thank You" or "Please enter..." yada yada... but the software better do what it's supposed to do or else the user will just yell profanities at the "Thank Yous" and "Pleases"

There's no problem in politeness in computer applications. I believe it increases the level of service to the user performing tasks on the application and it makes the application seem less Cold.

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