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Is it a problem of performance on the site or that too many make it look way ugly?

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Its to avoid cluttering the interface with off and side topic comments.

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So it's not for performance? – Shore Oct 3 '09 at 21:45
    
No and yes. Most people that arrives to a question is looking for a solution, not for a discussion, so they wont be needing the comments (usually). By showing a small amount of comments the noise is kept down. By showing everyone the same (cached) page, the performance is improved. But if everyone just expands the comments, that is a biggest load on the server. Of course, if you send smaller pages, the page renders faster. I believe the original intent was to reduce noise, with the added benefit of all that added speed. – perbert Oct 3 '09 at 21:49
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Also, the system favors the highest voted comments, so it will still show useful (or really funny) ones if there are dozens of comments on a post – John Rasch Oct 3 '09 at 21:56
    
Exactly, just as John's comment will be shown even if there are a lot of comments, unless there are lot of higher voted comments :) – perbert Oct 3 '09 at 22:02
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Comments aren't hidden on Meta. The hiding of comments are only valid on the official [S]OFU sites. Meta is about discussion so comments are hidden only once they have become to many, around 12+ – BinaryMisfit Oct 3 '09 at 22:04
    
@Diago: look at longer threads. MSO definitely hides comments beyond a few dozens posts. I've seen it last on the censor thread IIRC – perbert Oct 4 '09 at 4:47
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@voyager: indeed, the comment-hide-threshold is higher here on MSO than on the other sites of the trilogy, but it's definitely here! – fretje Oct 4 '09 at 11:31
    
Guys,I've found it's because there is limit on GROUP_CONCAT that SO doesn't show all! – Shore Oct 5 '09 at 21:19
    
@Shore - This isn't the case, we don't show all for comments UI - not performance reasons. We explicitly limit it to 5 on main sites and 15 on metas before comments start hiding. – Nick Craver Mar 22 '11 at 20:05

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