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I am new-ish to SO, and I was creating a long comment. I didn't intend to, but the Answerer had written such a long Answer with many points.

I was happy with my composition and hit the Add Comment button... Nothing... So I hit it again, and for good measure a few more times... nothing. 'Is the SO broken today?' I wondered.

I copied my comment to a file so I would not loose it.

Much later (embarrassingly so), I noticed the 'characters left' indicator. 'Good. That means that I haven't reached some limit. I still have -1023 characters left'.

Then I thought 'what does the dash mean?' I typed a few more characters in and saw that it increased. - Ah! I have typed in 1023 characters too many.

Perhaps a red box across the screen to tell people that they have reached their limit?

But why allow extra characters to be entered anyway?

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Sorry Jeff. You are right, it isn't a bug. –  philcolbourn Apr 11 '10 at 7:43
    
OK. I don't know what to do now. I guess an answer would be yes or no but there has only been discussion - or do I need to read the manual (which no one does)? –  philcolbourn Apr 13 '10 at 13:56

3 Answers 3

1,623 Characters? Did your comment look like:

ponies ponies ponies ponies ponies ponies ponies ponies ponies ponies ponies ponies ponies ponies ponies ponies ponies ponies ponies ponies ponies ponies ponies ponies ponies ponies ponies ponies ponies ponies ponies ponies ponies ponies ponies ponies ponies ponies ponies ponies ponies ponies ponies ponies ponies ponies ponies ponies ponies ponies ponies ponies ponies ponies ponies ponies ponies ponies ponies ponies ponies ponies ponies ponies ponies ponies ponies ponies ponies ponies ponies ponies ponies ponies ponies ponies ponies ponies ponies ponies ponies ponies ponies ponies ponies PONIES ponies ponies ponies ponies ponies ponies ponies ponies ponies ponies ponies ponies ponies ponies ponies ponies ponies ponies ponies ponies ponies ponies ponies ponies ponies ponies ponies ponies ponies ponies ponies ponies ponies ponies ponies ponies ponies ponies ponies ponies ponies ponies ponies ponies ponies ponies ponies ponies ponies ponies ponies ponies ponies ponies ponies ponies ponies ponies ponies ponies ponies ponies ponies ponies ponies ponies ponies ponies ponies ponies ponies ponies ponies ponies ponies ponies ponies ponies ponies ponies ponies ponies ponies ponies ponies ponies ponies ponies ponies ponies ponies ponies ponies ponies ponies ponies ponies ponies ponies ponies ponies ponies ponies ponies ponies ponies ponies ponies ponies ponies ponies ponies ponies ponies ponies ponies ponies ponies ponies ponies ponies ponies ponies ponies ponies ponies ponies ponies ponies ponies ponies ponies ponies ponies ponies ponies ponies ponies ponies ponies ponies ponies ponies ponies ponies ponies

Which is the 600 max + 1,023 characters = 1623 characters. (If you count the space on the last ponies, it is technically 1624, you perfectionists.)

(the 600th character is somewhere within the biggest ponies.)

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As I wrote: the Answer covered a lot of points and I needed to address each - is there a better way? I ended up posting 3 comments. Is that better or worse than 1? –  philcolbourn Apr 11 '10 at 10:00

I would expect people to notice the message gradually turning red.

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Two reason why this won't happen: 1 - you're a finger picker (i.e. you stare at the keyboard, not the screen, when typing), 2 - you're so engrossed in what you're writing you are oblivious to what else is subtly changing on the page –  Mark Henderson Apr 11 '10 at 1:37
    
@Farse: Sure, but finger-picker programmers deserve what they get. :) steve-yegge.blogspot.com/2008/09/… –  Ether Apr 11 '10 at 4:22
    
I guess when I type, I concentrate on what I am writing. I'd notice a big red bar. –  philcolbourn Apr 11 '10 at 7:47

It's better to allow the characters to be entered in the textbox so it's easy to rearrange the message to meet the limit. For example, I might paste a block of C++ code and then edit it down; this allows me to see how close I am to the limit as I remove the least important parts. (And Chrome's textbox resizing is very useful!)

However, this was more important with the previous limit of 300 than with today's 600. I don't think I've hit it since it was increased. (Except maybe with some really long URLs, like some of SO's.)

The text at the bottom isn't very noticeable for me. Changing the text of the button to "Message Too Long" could be the simplest improvement (I seem to remember disabling it has been rejected elsewhere). A notification on trying to submit would be my next choice (similar to "You may only submit a comment vote every 42 secs. Timer reset.").

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Can code for formatted in the comments box? This is a test int fn(){ return 42; } –  philcolbourn Apr 11 '10 at 7:49
    
@phil: Use backticks. Lines can't be formatted, which screws up Python. :( –  Gnome Apr 11 '10 at 18:13

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