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As a little feature to prevent comment spam, you can only enter one comment every 15 seconds. That's a very reasonable limitation, since you very rarely have a good reason to write comments that quickly. I've only seen it twice at all, I think, but both times it was extremely annoying.

Only 1 comment allowed per 15 seconds; timer reset.

The reason is that every time you hit the limit, the 15 seconds begin anew. You have no indicator that tells you when you are allowed to comment again, and if you hit enter after just 14 seconds, you're back to zero. Yesterday, I went through four cycles of not quite 15 seconds, counting in my head, before I got a myself a coffee and tried again afterwards.

I suggest that you do one or more of the following (in decreasing order):

  • Make the counter non-restarting
  • Add a visible countdown
  • Make it clearly visible that you can't comment right now
  • You can actually increase the waiting time, if it is clearly visible and there is no unnerving invisible countdown. Actually, just remove all comment fields after one comment, and tell the user to reload the page. Just please don't have UI elements that look like they would work, but feel like they are trolling you.
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2  
The timer reset will prevent a scripted loop to do any harm. –  Stéphane Gimenez Jan 17 '13 at 21:18
    
Agreed, but there's practically zero chance it will be fixed. They won't do anything about a similar but even more annoying misfeature, no way they'll do anything to this one either. –  Juhana Jan 17 '13 at 22:12
27  
A scripted loop is better at measuring time intervals than a human being. It will comment spam with the greatest of ease. –  Asad Feb 16 '13 at 16:00
    
I never had this problem on the mobile version. –  Vlad Bondarenko Feb 18 '13 at 5:42
1  
Possible fix: change the message to say "Only 1 attempt to comment allowed per 15 seconds, whether successful or not; timer reset." Now at least the message accurately describes the situation! –  AakashM Feb 18 '13 at 16:06
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I propose a MMO-like visible cooldown for the Add Comment-"skill" –  Tobias Kienzler Jul 18 '13 at 13:50
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It seems everyone agrees that this is really annoying and yet nothing been done so far. And even more annoying is the lack of response from SO team. I don't think this can possibly be justified by anyone. This is NOT just a new request. It's been asked two years ago.. And they say "for the community by the community..". –  user210447 Aug 14 '13 at 21:18
2  
Man, bounties are *&@$ useless on Meta. I've lost 100 rep and have to award it now to ... someone. Despite the fact that nothing new has been done on this feature request. Sigh. –  Lightness Races in Orbit Sep 3 '13 at 20:21
    
This is the SO version of Cookie Clicker (pointless, repetitive clicking..) –  bobobobo Nov 3 '13 at 22:35
    
Here is the guide to rate limiting. –  Lance Roberts Jan 1 at 21:32
1  
This feels like a lingering Jeff-ism. –  Jeremy Banks Apr 9 at 19:41
2  
@LightnessRacesinOrbit In another life I gave away a lot of bounties. I learned that they're a blunt instrument for getting attention. They say "someone, anyone, post something", and rarely get the attention of the people you really want. I switched to using them almost exclusively to reward existing answers on inherently interesting topics. This was ironically much more effective at getting the attention of the very users I was previously hoping to attract to unanswered questions. –  AndrewC Apr 14 at 1:08

6 Answers 6

I don't know enough JavaScript to attempt implementing this idea myself, or even to know if it is realistically possible, but as a work-around how about a userscript that enables you to enter multiple comments quickly, but buffers them and submits them to the system at 20 second intervals.

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Quoting points 2 and 3 from your suggestions:

  • Add a visible countdown
  • Make it clearly visible that you can't comment right now

Addressing those, here is a userscript that does three things:

  • adds a timer to the error message
  • disables the comment form submit button for the duration of the timeout
  • lets you know when it is safe to comment (error message changes)

Here is a screenshot:

enter image description here

It would be nice if we could get something like this for all the timeout errors we have on the site.

// ==UserScript==
// @name        Comment Timer
// @namespace   http://example.com
// @include     http://meta.stackoverflow.com/*
// @version     1
// ==/UserScript==

$(document).ajaxComplete(function(e, xhr, options) {
    if(xhr.status == 409 && xhr.responseText == "Only 1 comment allowed per 15 seconds; timer reset."){
        var span = $('<span class="timer">15</span>'),
            interval;
        $('.error-message').append(" Time remaining: ", span);
        function callback(){
            var time = ~~$(this).text();
            if(--time>0){
                $(this).text(time).delay(1000).queue(callback).dequeue();
            }else{
                $(this).parent().text("You may submit your comment now.");
                $(this).remove();
            }
        }
        span.delay(1000).queue(callback);
        $('.comment-form input[type="submit"]').stop(true, true).prop('disabled', true).animate({dummy:1},15000).queue(function(){
            $(this).prop('disabled', false);
        });
    }
});
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3  
Why disable input? So I can't type the comment while I wait? Disable the "Add Comment" button –  CodesInChaos Feb 18 '13 at 9:08
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@CodesInChaos Good point. Updated. –  Asad Feb 18 '13 at 9:11
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It would be nice to have this script published on userscripts.com (easier to install, auto-updates, easier to find when you're on a lended computer) –  Jan Dvorak May 24 '13 at 14:28
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@JanDvorak I'm not planning on maintaining this and don't have an account on that site, but you're welcome to publish this there if you think it would be useful. I might update this to cover other timers (vote count fetching, comment votes) although those are non-resetting, so it isn't as big a deal. –  Asad May 24 '13 at 14:48
    
Too bad Chrome doesn't allow arbitrary userscripts that aren't in the web store, any more :( –  Lightness Races in Orbit Jun 28 at 23:18
    
@LightnessRacesinOrbit Not directly, but dropping the file at chrome://extensions/ page used to work recently. Have they disabled that too? –  900 sit-ups a day Jun 28 at 23:44
    
@Thisismuchhealthier.: Yes that is exactly what they have disabled (stackoverflow.com/q/24095006/560648) –  Lightness Races in Orbit Jun 28 at 23:46

FTR, I have never changed my mind about a comment based on the timer being reset. I think the reason the timer was reset was to prevent users from pressing ENTER ENTER ENTER ENTER until the comment went through.

Was there a serious technical reason for needing to stop users from banging their keyboards? Or was it just "HEY! STOP BANGING YOUR KEYBOARD! THAT'S IT. YOU'RE WAITING LONGER NOW."

Another thing you could do to ease tension is show a little clock icon, about the size of the edit pencil. The clock fills up with black or red and when it is completely full, wait time is up.

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Oh yes this is incredibly annoying!

There cannot be a reasonable argument for the auto-reset. I type and think quickly, and I multi-task. What begins as a reasonably quick comment job on a few answers on the same question (or even on different question on different tabs) becomes an arduous cat-and-mouse game with the SO interface.

And why? Because the interface wants me to "take more care and attention"? Thanks but I'll be the judge of that. This just hinders my workflow.

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Comment (and comment-voting) rate-limiting is one of the most irritating features on these sites and there are many requests to fix it, here's one.

Not everyone can time 15-seconds in their head well, and the big irritant is that once you get the message the timer reboots itself. So you get to sit there trying to time it again; it's like a game, but not a fun one.

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1  
Everybody says this. I don't experience it. Just tested on the comments on Lightness' answer. Vote on comment 1. Wait four seconds. Vote on comment 2: "wait a bit". Wait one second. Vote on comment 2, it takes. Might be a reputation thing, I should dig through Meta for references. –  Michael Petrotta Mar 13 at 19:05
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@MichaelPetrotta, it would be nice to know if they changed it. I occasionally get it, but not like I used to. –  Lance Roberts Mar 13 at 19:08

Patience, padawan.

There are reasons this system is in place that go beyond spam protection. By forcing users to pause for fifteen seconds, they do just that: pause. If someone's posting an angry comment, they pause. It eases frustration and forces users to think for more than three seconds about what they're posting.

Of course it's a spam protection filter, but it also prevents careless comments. It also prompts, for thoughtful users, that they should instead edit their previous comment (when applicable).

And for those few users who can generate two well-thought-out comments in a span of fifteen seconds: patience. You do yourself no good obsessing over wasted seconds.

Edit: To clarify, I'm not saying I enjoy waiting, nor that my time is valueless. What I'm saying is that I do not let a fifteen second pause in my day frustrate me, much in the same way that being cut off does not frustrate me. I do my best to be patient with delays, and to stop the little things like this from bothering me. You don't have to agree with me. Still, I prefer the calm of patience to the stress of meticulous temporal preservation.

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Sure, but when you've accidentally waited 14 seconds and submitted, to be made to wait another 15 seconds - which you may still guess wrong about - is crazy-making –  Kate Gregory Jan 17 '13 at 19:26
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@KateGregory There's this new-fangled invention that measures time. I think they call it clog or something similar. No need to guess anymore. –  Daniel Fischer Jan 17 '13 at 19:30
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The thing is, we talk about "frustration", but the problem is not that we don't have patience or time. The problem is that the present solution is a bad user interface design. The comment box looks active, but it is not, and in fact the user gets "punished" for using it. As the instintual animals that humans are, one might even feel like the site is "acting up" against one. What makes it worse is that this site has an otherwise excellent user interface, and it's makers usually make the right decisions regarding the subtleties of human-computer interaction. –  jdm Jan 17 '13 at 19:58
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@DanielFischer if I have to start an external timer so I can see if it's 14 seconds or 15 seconds yet, how happy am I with that UI? I find it especially spiteful that it RESTARTS after I misguess. I see no good reason for that at all. It's just a mean joke. –  Kate Gregory Jan 17 '13 at 20:42
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I do not subscribe to the "don't fix poor interfaces — be zen and put up with it" mentality on a website dedicated to reporting problems with the interface. –  Lightness Races in Orbit Aug 28 '13 at 10:34

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