Meta Stack Exchange is where users like you discuss bugs, features, and support issues that affect the software powering all 158 Stack Exchange communities.

What is meta?
Here's how it works:
  1. Any Stack Exchange user can ask a question
  2. The community provides support, votes on ideas, and reports bugs
  3. Your voice helps shape the way Stack Exchange operates

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?

share|improve this question
7  
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
1  
@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:

share-link

share|improve this answer
    
+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 too didn't manage to find myself that the timestamps are links.

When I saw other people linking to comments, I first used "view source" to make the links by hand. I can't remember now how I ultimately found the provided way but vaguely recall it can very well be that someone told this in a discussion.

Google does give Direct Link to a Comment as the 1st link on "stackexchange link to comment".

But, to even try to search, you need to already know there is even a possibility for there to be a supported way! Yes, there are anchors in the page source all right, but who says it's an officially supported way? Because everywhere else on the Net, it is an implementation detail! No one in the entire world gives enough damn about the hapless idiots whose only purpose to exist is to boost one's ego and/or fill one's pockets their users to even consider this!

(And for comparison: there is no provided way (that I know of) to make human-readable links to posts, only permalinks, which cause page reload.)

So, yes, the current interface is unintuitive. But I can't think of any way to improve this. The link next to the timestamp suggested by chue x is outright ugly (imagine it next to every comment in a row).

share|improve this answer
    
I suggested permalink icon near to timestamp meta.stackexchange.com/a/280567/163139 , that doesn't take much space and will not be too annoying – Michael Freidgeim Jun 27 at 14:21

Comments are not important part of Stack Exchange.

I don't think there is any real value in the ability to publish and share comments in external sites, like we can do with posts.

e.g. sharing "Thanks, +1 this is awesome!" comment won't be any good. Will it?

So, personally I don't think this feature is really necessary. The comment timestamp is a nice bonus, but no need to improve it any further.

share|improve this answer
    
The comment timestamp should not be a hidden bonus, but be available to all users, who need it.The functionality is available, it can be used to refer comments in internal and external sites. It is issue with design, that it hard to discover, and only very familiar with SE users have a knowledge to use it. – Michael Freidgeim Jun 25 at 5:06
    
@MichaelFreidgeim most SE features are like this: viewing the vote split on a post by clicking the score (for 1k rep users), viewing post revisions by clicking the "edited" timestamp etc. – Shadow Wizard Jun 25 at 5:27
    
The features you mentioned are for advanced use of SE, but refer to comment will be useful for an average user. – Michael Freidgeim Jun 25 at 5:50
    
@MichaelFreidgeim since commenting requires 50 rep, which is not trivial, I'd say it also can be considered as "advanced use". – Shadow Wizard Jun 25 at 7:55
    
I would be happy if permalink clue for comments will be visible for everyone with 50+rep – Michael Freidgeim Jun 25 at 13:59
    
@MichaelFreidgeim tooltip will work nicely, in addition to the full timestamp, agreed. – Shadow Wizard Jun 25 at 15:13
    
No, tooltips are not good for new information. They are useful if the user already knows what feature they want to use, and all they need is a small reference to remind them of all the details(ux.stackexchange.com/a/84804/82016). How do I know, that I should hover timestamp to read tooltip? And tooltips are not supported on mobiles, iPads and other touch devices. However when permalink icon or "share" link will be added to timestamp, it will be nice to add a tooltip to provide some detailed instructions (or even warning that comments are volatile) – Michael Freidgeim Jun 25 at 22:33

Using SO for quite long, I only now excidently found out, that comments support permalinks.  

The question has many duplicates http://meta.stackexchange.com/questions/linked/5436?lq=1, which highlights that the link under time stamp is not intuitive and not discoverable by users.

Adding a permalink icon (any image like https://www.google.com.au/search?q=permalink+icon) next to timestamp will be a hint that it's a permalink.

The icon will take less space then link "share" that suggested by chue x. Also icon wouldn't actively promote sharing, which is a concern for those who consider comments as not important part of Stack Exchange.

share|improve this answer
    
Why downvote without reasoning? – Michael Freidgeim Jun 25 at 1:59
    
Because you are repeating existing answer with only a minor tweak. (Well, that's why I downvote. The other(s) might simply disagree with what you suggest.) – Shadow Wizard Jun 25 at 3:32
    
@ShadowWizard: I've updated an answer describing why icon is better than separate link. However I will be happy with any intuitive clue, that links to comments are available. – Michael Freidgeim Jun 25 at 4:58

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.

share|improve this answer

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .