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I do understand why comments do not have the bigger formatting options that Questions and answers have, but could we PLEASE at least keep line breaks in them for readability? And if not that, could we at least remove the autosubmit on return, which is totally not how Web forms normally behave when editing a text field?

I don't know how often this has bitten me in the ass when writing a comment and I think "Okay, now a line break to get to my main point - WHOOPS, submitted..."

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Nitpicking: when editing a text field, many forms submit on pressing Return. But indeed, not so much for a text area, as used for comments. Still then, as I'm sure it won't be reverted: maybe vote for a slightly extended help text: 583 characters left. Press Return to submit. –  Arjan Dec 29 '11 at 10:17
    
Mince my words, will you? ;) –  Sorcy Dec 29 '11 at 10:51
    
Linebreaks invite abuse; Imagine 600 linebreaks as a comment, or 300 linebreaks separating300 lines of periods to defeat a simple repeated linebreak filter. There's a reason Twitter doesn't allow linebreaks either, so you can't hog screen space. Regardless of deliberate abuse it allows a comment to hog screen space. –  Ben Brocka Dec 29 '11 at 16:06
    
Well, if we can catch the enter key to autosubmit a text area, we surely can limit linebreaks to three or five or whatever... –  Sorcy Dec 29 '11 at 16:29
    
Idea: allow n linebreaks in comments, where n = reputation/100 :) –  Sorcy Dec 29 '11 at 16:44
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2 Answers

Have you been on Facebook recently? They adopted the system where enter autosubmits a comment and shift+enter adds a new line. And I've seen no complaints since the feature has been added, which is a miracle knowing the Facebook community's typical dislike of their updates. See this recent answer of mine (no shameless self-advertising here, move along).

There shouldn't be a need for line breaks in comments since they're only for additional discussion. Even the 600 character limit is extremely generous.

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well, I would not say because Facebook does it, it is automatically right -- however, allowing newlines sends totally the wrong message for comments, which are supposed to be little more than post-it notes on the units of real work in a Q&A system.. y'know.. questions and answers. Comments are third-class citizens by design. –  Jeff Atwood Dec 29 '11 at 9:35
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If we resort to facebook as our glaring symbol of usability we surely have taken a wrong turn somewhere. –  Sorcy Dec 29 '11 at 9:39
    
@JeffAtwood: The Facebook note was just a precursor to the "if SO did it before them" part, heh. And I absolutely agree about why newlines aren't necessary in comments, and I tried to get that across in my answer. –  Purag Dec 29 '11 at 9:39
    
@JeffAtwood "Comments are third-class citizens by design." - How many times do you think you've had to type that? :P –  jadarnel27 Dec 29 '11 at 15:18
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I do understand why comments do not have the bigger formatting options that Questions and answers have...

Good...

...but could we PLEASE at least keep line breaks in them for readability?

...then you didn't understand it.

If you need new lines in comments, you're doing something wrong, or the poster which you're responding to did something wrong.

About the submit on return. That totally makes sense ones you know that there are no line breaks in comments and don't forget the 5 minutes period in which you can still edit the comment.

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Never mind if I NEED new lines, it's just that I've used online communication for the last 25 years and even a block of 600 characters is just a blinding ugly wall of text if you fill it up. I'm not asking for lists, quotes, sourcecode formatting or anything ungainly, I'm just asking to be allowed to format my comments in such a way that the people who might read them will not start bleeding from the eyes because of an unreadable block of gibberdigook that is hard to follow. You might not have noticed yet, so I'm telling you that I'm filling up this comment box to illustrate my point. Finished –  Sorcy Dec 29 '11 at 9:45
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@Sorcy: Like I said, even the 600 character limit is generous. You shouldn't generally need that many characters anyway. And FYI, I read that block just fine. –  Purag Dec 29 '11 at 9:48
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@Sorcy: there is a line break feature: –  Mat Dec 29 '11 at 10:20
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Make two comments! (: –  Mat Dec 29 '11 at 10:20
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Sure, @Mat, we've seen what that gets us... –  Arjan Dec 29 '11 at 10:25
    
@Arjan: wow, that's pretty extreme... I was more thinking that two 300 char comments could sometimes be slightly more readable than one 600 one. Hadn't thought about the thirty 20 char comments option :) –  Mat Dec 29 '11 at 10:34
    
On a serious note, @Mat, upvoted comments might destroy the order in which such two comments are shown. Messy! –  Arjan Dec 29 '11 at 10:40
    
@Arjan: As far as I remember the problem there was that the user argued that s/he was used to press enter [when reaching the end of the comment box] and refused to let go of that habit. A pretty worthless and bloated discussion...even as a joke (if it was one)... –  Time Traveling Bobby Dec 29 '11 at 11:19
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@Sorcy: That argument is a little bit shallow I fear. I mean, by that argument books are also "ugly walls of text which are hard to follow". –  Time Traveling Bobby Dec 29 '11 at 11:24
    
@Bobby: Honestly? When was the last time you read a book that had no linebreaks? The whole process of setting up a book is an art form that inherently fights to make even long texts readable - by spacing sentences, choosing carefully where to wrap word and using line breaks where useful. Why do you think things like LaTex exist? –  Sorcy Dec 29 '11 at 16:32
    
Addendum: I'm actually quite amused how on a network that praises itself for usability and easy access (and applaudably succeeds on a broad spectrum in these cases) can fight tooth and nail for a "feature" that breaks one of the most basic expectations a normal web user has of a form, just on the basis "It's this way because we say so, and we say so, because it's this way." - Utterly utterly fascinating. Have to look if there is already a stack exchange for weird psychological conundrums. –  Sorcy Dec 29 '11 at 16:36
    
What books do you read that have forced linebreaks every few sentences? Last time I read a book it was a comic...arrrr, I mean last time I read a book it had paragraphs well beyond 600 characters. –  Time Traveling Bobby Dec 30 '11 at 12:51
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