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I have seen many people share links which go directly to a specific comment. I wanted to do this too today but I couldn't figure out how. I had to search here on Meta to find this Q&A:

Direct Link to a Comment

It turns out that the timestamp beside each comment is actually a link to that comment.

I have a few problems with the way this works currently:

  • This was not intuitive to me
  • The timestamp is not formatted like a link, infact it is often greyed-out or otherwise unemphatic
  • The text of this link is contextual ("yesterday" vs. "19 hours ago" vs. "Dec 19 '11 at 17:48") which makes me have to think about where to look for the link

Can we somehow improve the UI of comments so that the perma-link is more intuitive to find?

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Meh, given the high probability of comments disappearing over time, and their lack of importance (them being 2nd class citizens), I'm not sure that's all that necessary. – Bart Aug 16 '13 at 17:11
Time stamp permalinks are not just restricted to SE. They are used on other sites, too. – AsheeshR Aug 16 '13 at 17:12
@AsheeshR Did you mean "not just restricted to SO"? Or do you mean there are other websites (outside SE) that use the timestamps as links too? – Jesse Webb Aug 16 '13 at 17:17
Outside SE. Although, I am not sure who or where this design started from. – AsheeshR Aug 16 '13 at 17:19
@Bart Why do you assert that comments have a high probability of disappearing over time? I would view questions and answers as being just as volatile. And the point is kind of moot since comments already have perma-links; I am simply saying that they are not easily discover-able. I do agree though that they are second-class citizens and, therefor (maybe) not as important. – Jesse Webb Aug 16 '13 at 17:24
@Bart - but then why allow links to comments at all? My view is if we have functionality, lets make it more intuitive if possible. – chue x Aug 16 '13 at 17:40
@JesseWebb Comments are more freely removed already. And there are even ongoing meta discussions on comment removal after a certain period of time or to have more aggressive comment cleanup. See this for example Adding a feature as you propose would give them more importance than they should have. Instead of merely allowing comments to be linked, it would explicitly encourage the sharing and linking of them. I don't necessarily think that's a good idea. – Bart Aug 16 '13 at 18:27

I personally find the UI unintuitive as well. I had no idea of how this worked until you mentioned it.

My suggestion would be to add a share link somewhere after the time:


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+1 This is probably a better idea than mine; it doesn't make the (important) flag button less accessible. – Jesse Webb Aug 16 '13 at 17:40
I might make it "13 mins ago (share)" rather than using the pipe. The advantage of this is that it keeps the share link with the timestamp. Using the pipe would suggest that the share link is different than the timestamp link. If there is an external standard that says that the timestamp should be a shareable link, then the pipe would add confusion. Pipes are normally used to separate links, not to combine them. – Brythan Aug 16 '13 at 18:01
@Brythan - As to the pipe, I'm not sure one way or the other. We also have to account for the "edit" link and pencil icon. I think I would remove the link from the time altogether. – chue x Aug 16 '13 at 18:06

I am going to make my own suggestion for an improved UI.

First of all, it is worth mentioning that we already include extra white-space in comments which are only 1 line. This happens because we reserve 2 lines per comment automatically for the up-vote and flag buttons.

Here is an example of 1 line comments taking 2 lines:

enter image description here

My suggestion would be replace the flag button with a "more options" button. This would open up a little pop-up, similar to the "share" button on questions, which could include the flag button, the permalink, and anything else we want to add.

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