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I regularly hit the character limit when writing a comment. I understand the desire to keep everything compact and nicely readable. But sometimes you just need more space! The same goes for posting questions and answers.

The negative effect is that multiple comments are needed to handle all the text. Seriously, it sucks. Why not implement a badge or something, or deactivate the limit when you reach a certain reputation?

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If what you are writing does not fit in a comment, then perhaps it shouldn't be a comment in the first place? It's possible that you are trying to put something in a comment that should be expressed somewhere else entirely. Also, expressing yourself succinctly is an art. Anyone can string a whole bunch of words together; getting the message through in a limited amount of space takes more effort. Maybe you are repeating yourself, saying the same thing over and over with only slight variations, or expressing the same thought in different ways when a single way would be enough? ;) 600 characters. –  Guffa Dec 2 '10 at 8:39

3 Answers 3

Comments are supposed to be short.

The limit on the comment length is pretty reasonable. If you reach the limit, it's usually because you are using the site in a way that was not intended. The commenting function simply isn't suitable for something like a long discussion, so if you try to use it for that it will naturally feel very limited.

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Think of it as an exercise in technical writing. If you're careful and clever you can convey a lot in 600 characters. My rule of thumb is: if you can't say it in one comment it should not be a comment. Really.

Aside: Originally the limit of 300 characters. This is the "I need more space" version. Where would you have it stop?

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of course you can express a lot but not always! why limit it? so if you cant say it in one comment what should it be if it needs to be said and isnt an answer but a comment? really this is not helping. –  Joe Hopfgartner Dec 1 '10 at 21:37
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@Joe: I looked at some of your longer comments on Stack Overflow. They are not awful, but there is fat to trim from them. And it is annoying when you have to pare down a comment, but I find that it usually improves them--as the man said "I apologize for the length of this letter but I did not have time to write a shorter one.": long is sloppy and lazy. –  dmckee Dec 1 '10 at 21:43
    
well they are trimmed if i reached the limit, i just used the space available if i needed it. –  Joe Hopfgartner Dec 1 '10 at 21:50
    
i just think its a bad tradeoff to castrate comments that would need more space and become unclear or whatever just because you want to keep eveyrthing compact. maby some people tend to write a bit too much but well. i would prefer that because there is a rating system and comments can be collapsed and stuff. –  Joe Hopfgartner Dec 1 '10 at 21:52

All comments and post eventually end up in a database table. Strings in database table must have a maximum length specified at table definition time. Hence, the limit on the text boxes reflect the hard limits imposed by the underlying database.

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perhaps, but in this case the limits are there as gentle reminders that if it doesn't fit, perhaps you are doing it wrong. –  Jeff Atwood Dec 3 '10 at 5:40
    
Not all databases need to impose a (small) limit on the number of chars in a column. It really depends on the details of the DB engine though; where a row is represented by contiguous memory/disk, fixed limits are required. –  Donal Fellows May 24 '11 at 22:42
    
@Jeff, so you are not using a fixed length but storing all entries as CLOB's? –  Thorbjørn Ravn Andersen May 25 '11 at 5:57

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