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I'm a member in many forums (part of them are professional groups with doctors). For example, when I want to post on Facebook I don't know what is the polite way to address a lot of people, although I know how to address one person (Dear Sir or Dear Miss). What would be an appropriate way to start my post? Hey there? Hello? Dear Sirs?

I'm not English native speaker and I'd like to get the knowledge about that. Thank you.

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    Use PLZZZZZZ a lot. :D Seriously though, as long as you don't target anyone and use inappropriate words (i.e. insults and "them's-fighting-words sequels") you'll be fine. Also, as people reflect to informality in different ways, (which means, one finds hey there inappropriate while the other one looks at formality as sarcasm) this question renders "primarily opinion-based". All in all, I'll stick to hello.
    – M.A.R.
    Commented Apr 14, 2015 at 17:04
  • @MARamezani That's a reasonable answer, but it's an answer, not a comment. You should delete it and post it as an answer.
    – DCShannon
    Commented Apr 15, 2015 at 0:13
  • @DCShannon IMHO the question is too subjective. I see the other answerers have been able to pull themselves outta that, but since I can't, I don't answer.
    – M.A.R.
    Commented Apr 15, 2015 at 12:01
  • Hi Dory, I think you should look at the voting and reconsider which answer you choose as the best.
    – user6951
    Commented Apr 16, 2015 at 15:22
  • I'm a member of several FB communities that have international membership. No one seems to mind when anyone starts a post with something like Dear members of the ---- Community... For those who insist such greetings are 'fluff' or an unnecessary waste of time, such people can easily skip over such a greeting.
    – user6951
    Commented Apr 16, 2015 at 15:28

3 Answers 3

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Anything friendly, such as

Hello everyone

will generally be fine.

If you wrote "hey there", it may be seen by a few people as a little unusual, but since most people are aware of the international nature of such groups, it's unlikely that such would create a negative impression in many people's minds.

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The easiest way to decide the correct address is to see how other members address the group. Do they use a formal address or no address at all?

In my experience Facebook groups do not require a formal salutation for each post. If you feel it would be impolite or unprofessional to include a salutation, greet the group by its group name:

Hello Doctors without Porsches

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    Stack Exchange isn't the best example. SE Network etiquette is specifically against all "fluff" - greetings, sign-offs, signatures, etc.
    – nobody
    Commented Apr 15, 2015 at 0:23
  • I agree that it is not the best example. Some people have a hard time letting go of formality, though. As long as the "fluff" is minimized (i.e. no emoticons, signatures, avatars, etc.), I don't mind a little formality. Commented Apr 15, 2015 at 2:20
  • @gregljohnson Fluff is noise. Minimizing noise is critical. Greetings are non-critical and contribute no signal. Therefore greetings should be shunned. The target doesn't want to spend 3 minutes parsing a message that could be parsed in 30 seconds. (or 30 seconds parsing something that could be parsed in 10).
    – killermist
    Commented Apr 15, 2015 at 19:02
  • @gregljohnson user thought - "Dangit, user11235# is asking questions again. He's always including greetings and then signing his posts... I wonder what other people are posting. At least those other posts are interesting."
    – killermist
    Commented Apr 15, 2015 at 19:05
  • I agree that the best communications get right to the point and I get annoyed with any fluff. However I don't believe it optimizes my time effectively. If it took me more than a second to get past the fluff, I wouldn't blame the poster. Commented Apr 16, 2015 at 13:56
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On forums, IRC, blogs, and the like I realize that the time of the other person is valuable. Therefore starting with any kind of greeting (or signing posts/messages/whatnot) is an insult and a waste of their time.

Blogs, forums, facebook, email: all of that includes identifer information so signing messages is a redundant waste.

Same for the greeting. On most IRC channels any kind of greeting is often met with silence, even if the channel was fairly active before the greeting is thrown. The way to get an IRC channel to respond is to ask an intelligent question that piques the interest of those in the channel that may know an answer. Forums, blogs, email, facebook: these are all similar, with the single possible exception of formal business emails. With the internet being such a source of information overload, the last thing I want to have to parse past in emails, blogs, and forums is useless greeting cruft.

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    I think that you have mentioned some important things to consider about on-line etiquette, however the topic here is really the language and not how to navigate an on-line community, which is very dependent on the particular community and fairly subjective. I think that opening with a greeting is not widely considered as insulting and that you might be giving the OP a slightly skewed view of what is and isn't polite. I certainly wouldn't feel insulted if someone writing in English as a second language was a little too formal even though I share your view about adding pointless frills.
    – ColleenV
    Commented Apr 15, 2015 at 15:58
  • @ColleenV To me, the question was primarily about online etiquette (forums) and secondarily on the language (or lack thereof). Based on the context and priority as I understood them, I answered with the answer I would want to learn based on the priorities identified. There's a possibility that the question should be on another exchange. Meh. I'd be OK with it moving.
    – killermist
    Commented Apr 15, 2015 at 17:46
  • It's definitely not an insult.
    – user6951
    Commented Apr 16, 2015 at 15:31

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