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Is it possible to increase or remove the edit time limit on comments in chat?

I think that 120 seconds is a bit of a short period in order to correct any typos or errors.

Consider this:

  • Many of the chat rooms, including the Chat Feedback room are left for several hours or days before people respond to comments, the argument that all the rooms are used for real time communication, and that everything should be geared thus is moot in the light of this observation.

  • If a comment is edited after others post, it may cause bad continuity - however there's a history feature on all edited comments for just this sort of reason, bad continuity is not a good argument for the limit when this feature is available.

  • Some users have conditions or disabilities that impede how quickly they can type or operate a computer, most people have the ability and privilege to edit comments in good time, but for those who do not, they have to put up with another reminder that they can't keep up with other people's time standards.

Obviously, the ability to edit comments in chat is an important feature, I believe it is one of the features that sets stack exchange apart from the other chat servers making it a better place to chat. On the other hand, I believe that the 120 second edit limit does not enrich chat.

I'm yet to hear a good reason for this time limit - If anyone knows of a good reason why things are done like this, please let me know.

If, on the other hand, there are not good reasons for this feature, then I boldly suggest than it be removed altogether, allowing people an unlimited time to edit their comments.

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@Robert Harvey, is there not a limit on how long after posting a chat message can be deleted as well? –  tombull89 Aug 2 '11 at 22:32
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@tom: Perhaps, but you can always add a clarification: "To clarify my last message, what I really mean is... –  Robert Harvey Aug 2 '11 at 22:36
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@Robert Harvey, that would be fair enough. I would like to add my +1 to this though, even extending it to 5 minutes would be so much more useful, especially in times of heavy chat activity, or being quickly called away from the desk for a moment. –  tombull89 Aug 2 '11 at 22:39
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You have an infinite amount of time before you hit enter to edit. (: –  Rebecca Chernoff Aug 2 '11 at 23:18
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"I think that 120 seconds is a bit of a short period in order to correct any typos or errors." -- can you elaborate? That seems like a huge amount of time to correct typos –  Michael Mrozek Aug 3 '11 at 3:21
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@Michael Mrozek - If you read the points I make about users with conditions and disabilities I think it clearly shows why for some 120 seconds is not ample - I'm still waiting for a good reason as to why there is a limit in the first place –  Jim Aug 3 '11 at 8:40
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@Rebecca Chernoff - I do not feel your comment addresses the points I have made, the edit feature is obviously useful and there is obviously a necessity for allowing people the post edit feature. I believe pointing out the obvious is not helpful in this conversation. –  Jim Aug 3 '11 at 8:47
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I would love to know why people are so desperate to hold on to the 2 minute limit, what are the benefits of the limit? –  Jim Aug 3 '11 at 8:53
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@Tombull89 - You are correct there is also a limit on deleting a post after 120 seconds –  Jim Aug 3 '11 at 9:03
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Did I use the word obvious too much? - Damn I wish I could go back and edit that! :) –  Jim Aug 3 '11 at 10:23
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@Jim Because people shouldn't be rewriting what they said after a whole conversation has taken place, it causes confusion. The point is to let you fix typos, not to let you change your message after the fact. If 2 minutes really isn't long enough to fix typos then maybe it should be increased, but the limit in general has a purpose –  Michael Mrozek Aug 3 '11 at 13:44
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@Michael Mrozek - How do you know it causes confusion? –  Jim Aug 3 '11 at 16:50
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@Jim Imagine I had the ability to edit my last comment to say "it causes no confusion whatsoever". Now someone reading this comment thread for the first time thinks you're illiterate because you responded to "it doesn't cause confusion" with "how do you know it causes confusion?". I realize history is preserved in the case of chat messages, but if you expect people to check the history of every message to try to piece together who replied to what, reading a page of the backlog could take 15 minutes –  Michael Mrozek Aug 3 '11 at 17:07
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@Michael Mrozek I'm not sure I understand your point? Are you saying that a lot of people would use edit to deliberately make conversations harder to read? –  Jim Aug 3 '11 at 21:32
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@Jim I'm saying they could. If someone says the wrong thing and then a bunch of people explain why it's wrong, it wouldn't surprise me to see the person go back and edit what they said to be correct; now every message from that point on is confusing –  Michael Mrozek Aug 3 '11 at 21:41

3 Answers 3

I would be in favor of extending the editing time if nobody else has posted a message after yours.

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what would be your reason for not extending it, despite comments afterwards? –  Jim Aug 3 '11 at 8:58
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@Jim, so that comments are not edited to change their meaning after other responses, making chat even harder to read. –  Kortuk Aug 3 '11 at 13:40
    
@Kortuk is that not why there's a history button on every edited comment? I must point out that your concern operates under the assumption that people would edit comments in order to make them harder to understand in the context of the conversation, however I believe that editing could be used to increase the readability and usefulness of information. Over time links and images may become broken and editing would allow a fix for this, also there may be comments that people wish to withdraw, references to things that they may prefer to not be associated with. –  Jim Aug 3 '11 at 14:48
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@Jim, withdraw is a delete, noticing an edit is hard. You are operating on the assumption that users only use great tools for good. I agree that 2 minutes is a bit short also, but the downsides need to be discussed. –  Kortuk Aug 3 '11 at 14:49
    
I don't deny that there is the possibility that people could edit comments to make conversation harder to read, however I do believe that most people edit comments with the best intentions and they are trying to enrich the content rather than make it worse –  Jim Aug 3 '11 at 14:51
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Alternatively, one could extend the editing time if the message has not been replied to, on the assumption that a posting that has not been replied to has not been directly responded to. Regardless, I think something like 5 minutes would be a better default than 2 minutes. 5 minutes is the same as comments on the main site. –  Faheem Mitha Jan 13 '13 at 11:37
    
@FaheemMitha: Or if there are no subsequent messages, excluding messages that are replies to a different message or are @-directed to a different person. –  Mechanical snail Jan 19 '13 at 0:57

The only reason why editing is allowed in the first place is the fact that it's hugely annoying to hit enter and then notice that you wrote "alot" instead of "a lot".

It's not the point of the feature to be able to post a quick message and then expand on it. This would be absolutely contrary to the purpose of a chat (and even with the two-minute limit, I'm seeing this happen too often for my taste). Allowing messages to be edited forever, like you suggest, makes this no longer be a realtime chat. A secondary but no less serious problem is that you'd be allowing the chat transcript to be littered with spam and other unwanted content, because nobody would notice an edit that you make to a message you posted hours or days ago and thus nobody would be flagging it.

To be very clear: Any change to this would have to bear in mind the fact that the single use case of editing is typo-fixing (and, relatedly, formatting fixes, but problems that require this are immediately visible upon submission and thus give you ample time). There is no other supported use for (non-moderator) editing in a chat. So even to just request extending the time limit, not removing it altogether, you would have to make the argument that two minutes is not enough to fix a typo, and I'm not seeing that argument. The only thing that goes in that direction is your third bullet point, but that's a purely theoretical case about how "some users" with "conditions or disabilities" do not have "the ability and privilege to edit comments in good time".

Now if you have or know someone who has such a condition, or someone else who does is willing to comment, I'll be happy to hear concrete details about how the limited edit window is preventing you or them from taking part in a conversation in chat, but as it stands you're extremely vague on this point.

And such an argument should also be addressing the fact that

  • if there's an ongoing back-and-forth conversation, any subsequent changes to a previous message may not be noticed by the other users anyway, and
  • if there's no such conversation going on currently, you would have all the time in the world before even submitting the message.
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I'm in favor of removing this ability altogether. It should be like instant messenger, email, or normal speech — if you want to correct a mistake in what you've said, you should do so by providing clarification after the fact. Attempting to rewrite history can only be confusing.

bad continuity is not a good argument for the limit when this feature is available

It sure is. How often do you use the history feature in chat? I know I rarely do. The fact that it's available also does not make it the superior tool for continuity or anything else. I don't understand your third point about disabilities; it's harder to edit a comment than to type *"knew" not "new" or something like that.

Obviously, the ability to edit comments in chat is an important feature

Is it? You haven't provided reasons why it is, just (poor, IMO) reasons why the time limit is bad.

This is different from editing a question or answer because they are not conversational; the only relevant information is what they currently convey, rather than everything from the first version up till now. "Real time" or no.

I'll also distinguish from comments because they are less real-time and conversational, meant for minor points rather than discussion, and we want to avoid a bunch of clutter-comments with corrections. In chat it's much easier to make corrections naturally and chat by its nature is sort of clutter :P

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so 60 seconds then? –  Jeff Atwood Jan 18 '13 at 23:35
    
Skype's IM actually does allow you to edit and/or remove messages after the fact, a feature I'm thankful for. :P –  Tim Stone Jan 18 '13 at 23:38
    
@TimStone Bleh :( –  Matthew Read Jan 18 '13 at 23:39
    
Skype instant messenger has this ability. Perhaps the ability to view previous versions of edits would be useful. –  Jimbo Apr 3 at 14:15
    
@Jimbo it already allows that, but if I am not mistaken it is only viewable by room owners. –  cryptic ツ Apr 3 at 15:55

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