I've read a lot of questions in which users have an issue with saying "Thanks" without having something significant to thank for. I see often "What am I saying thanks for?" or "They didn't help me, is saying thank you ok?".

It seems to me a lot of these questions are answered with "Well, you just say thanks...." and society in general doesn't have this onus on the words "Thank you" for it to hold such reverence in my experience. I personally feel like these questions aren't really Interpersonal Skills, but rather just basic and common manners that don't involve having more than a cursory explanation at the beginning of a sentence.

I understand that a "Just say thanks" answer wouldn't be fitting, and I get that there's usually more details on the motivation as to why saying "Thanks" is the right way to go, but perhaps it's just my experience that wants to keep the answer as simple as possible. Sometimes Just Do It is a pretty darn effective way.

This is similar to questions that ask "Is it ever OK to do this terrible thing?" and having answers that say "No, don't do the thing, it's bad.".

Is it just me thinking a lot of answers are overcomplicated, and is it OK to have the answer to a question simply be "Just say thanks"?

  • 4
    I'm not actually sure if this is a meta question... :D If you're actually asking why/what groups of people find saying "thanks" when you're not literally thanking someone for something... that might be an OK main site question? It would have to be worded carefully to avoid seeming like a poll.
    – Catija
    Nov 1, 2017 at 15:13
  • 3
    This doesn't feel like a meta question concerned with the actual operation of this site. Nov 1, 2017 at 15:14
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    Let me rephrase. @Catija I'm asking if those sorts of answers really are acceptable, when it's generally common knowledge that "Thanks" isn't a huge social faux pas or anything.
    – Anoplexian
    Nov 1, 2017 at 15:59
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    I think this is basically the same as "just say 'no'" discussion? The consensus seemed to be it's fine to say "My answer is to simply say 'no', because [explanation]...". I think a similar approach would work for "just say 'thanks'", too.
    – Em C
    Nov 1, 2017 at 18:21
  • @EmC the important thing there, though, is the [explanation] part.
    – Catija
    Nov 1, 2017 at 18:34

2 Answers 2


I think this is partially a corollary to the "Back it up" rule.

Yes, you can tell someone to just say ____ but you have to explain why in a way that is helpful to the person asking the question.

The problem here is that part of social mores is that we say a lot of stuff to minimize or "ignore" things that are rude by saying they don't bother you (note the difference between that question and this one, regrettably closed as a duplicate) or that you appreciate their action and I (and other neurotypicals) understand that when you say "I'm good" if someone asks how you're doing in passing, that may not be the exact truth but it's the expected response.

While the person who asked that recent question doesn't say that they're neuro-atypical, I think (though I'm not an expert or even a dabbler in the subject) that it's likely they need some help understanding why we say "thanks", so an answer that doesn't do this is going to fail the person asking.

This is a good time to ask the OP to explain why they feel uncomfortable saying "thanks" so that we can more directly respond to that concern rather than giving them useless answers that just say "just say thanks, that's what everyone does". Explaining why they should do this or how they can reframe their response in their head so that saying "thanks" makes sense to them is probably going to help them more... so something like

"Think of 'thanks' as shorthand for saying "thanks for letting me know" rather than "thanks for giving me permission to use the machine".


IMHO, an answer can be of the form, "do x, and here's why", or "don't do x, and here's why".

While for some of us, it would seem obvious that doing X is the right way, the asker may not know or follow the same thought. It would be okay to have a "just say x" answer, therefore (along with the explantion).

The important thing about any answer on IPS is the explanation part. Anything you post as an answer must have an explanation.

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