I just discovered the new comment edit feature. That's good, it will help with those inevitable typos that creep in.
However, I noticed there is some noise on meta regarding the five minute window and the edit flag. I offer the following observations:
- The pencil icon that indicates a comment has been edited is almost useless. How was it edited? Was there a missing comma, a misspelled word, or a complete change in meaning? (Yes, I understand comments are "lightweight and not versioned", but that's the point.)
- The five minute window is pretty arbitrary. A lot can happen on a new, active question in five minutes.
I propose the following modifications to the comment edit feature:
- Get rid of the pencil icon. Nobody can possibly care whether a comment has been edited if you can't compare it to what was there before.
- Allow a comment edit only if there are both:
- no comment upvotes, and
- no later comments on the same post (comment thread)
This would make editing a comment simply a convenience in the case where you just made a typo and want to try to fix it. It would work exactly the same as if you deleted the old comment and added a new one (which is always possible, at any time after the annoying 30 second rate limiting wait). In fact, such a feature could be implemented by doing an add-delete operation, generating a new comment ID in the comment table (they're free, you don't have to reuse them), with no database schema changes at all.
If you've just made a totally awesome comment and have already received an upvote within the 1.7 seconds it takes to notice that typo, tough cookies. If it's so important to correct it, delete the comment, sacrificing that upvote, and add a new one. People vote on the actual text of comments, even if they have typos.
Similarly, if you've added a comment and somebody has already "replied" to that comment by adding a new one, then you've lost your right to edit it. This solves the "Obama" problem mentioned in that other post. (Yes, there's sort of a race condition if user A edits a comment while user B is typing the next comment, but the comment display is completely refreshed when user B submits the comment so they'll see the incongruity. Also, exactly the same thing can already happen if user A deletes and then adds a new comment while user B is typing, regardless of the new edit feature.)
LiveJournal implemented almost exactly the same sort of overengineered reply editing feature a couple of years ago and broke a bunch of things in the process (which they never fixed). Stack Overflow is better than that.