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It happened several times to me that I could not submit an edit which I made on a comment, since the comment grace period was over meanwhile.

I acknowledge the grace period as such and know about the background, but it is a little awkward to be able to edit a comment, fix some mistake, but then not being able to submit it anymore since the grace period has timed out during the edit.

Would it not make more sense to check the comment grace period when starting the edit, and allow submitting an edit in any case?

In order to avoid a potential backdoor where users intentionally start the edit action within the grace period, and then just leave the edit window open to be able to edit and submit a comment even after a very long time, it should be sufficient to add a separate "edit timeout" of, for example, 10 minutes. This would still allow to finish quick fixes which have been started shortly before the grace period times out.

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2 Answers 2

But that would mean that one could hypothetically start editing a comment, leave the window open, come back 2 years later and completely deface the comment.

Well, 2 years may be slightly extreme, but you get the point.

Maybe it should check when you start editing, set a timer (say about 10 minutes) and if you don't complete your edit within 10 minutes, it doesn't allow you to submit.

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Right, I was thinking the same before - as you say, you could still check this with a separate "edit timeout" – Andreas Fester Mar 21 '13 at 9:52
In order to do that, though, you would have to send some kind of signal to the server that you started editing at this time, so the server knows how long to allow it. Otherwise there would only be a client-side check and it would get abused, which is bad. Comments just aren't important enough to warrant these server-side features. The 5 minutes pretty much is your grace period, we don't need another one. – animuson Mar 21 '13 at 12:27
@animuson It's not exactly an earth-shattering change to update a record's EditDate and then put a check on submit. – mattytommo Mar 21 '13 at 12:29
@mattytommo: It requires an extra call to the server that otherwise wouldn't happen. Not exactly worth it. – animuson Mar 21 '13 at 12:33
@animuson An incredibly inexpensive one though, worth more than some other calls one could argue :) – mattytommo Mar 21 '13 at 12:34
@mattytommo: Not really, considering you would have to make that call every time a user clicks the edit button to edit a comment. Then you have so many people who don't even go over the 5-minute limit or even cancel editing altogether. Seems like a vast waste of server calls to grant users a few extra seconds on their grace period. – animuson Mar 21 '13 at 12:38

The purpose of the 5 minute grace period is to allow users to apply edits soon after the comment, while limiting it to 5 minutes so that things don't get super-confusing to others.

What you're proposing (including the 10 minute edit timeout) would make it possible for a comment to say something different than what it said 15 minutes earlier. (Actually, this is currently possible, in that moderators can edit any comment at any time, but this moderation feature is infrequently used, for good reason.)

If the comment has other comments after it, then it's too confusing to allow comments to change after more than a few minutes.

If the comment does not have other comments after it, then just delete the comment and replace it with a new comment. You can select the text in the comment box (you're editing it, after all, and that deliberately doesn't go away when you're told it's too late to apply your edit), copy it, and paste it into the new comment.

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