I tried to post the following comment and it claims it was less than 15 when it was more.

Based on Tim's comment and testing I believe it would not let me post because with @Shadow removed it is less than 15. However, the characters left message indicates I have passed the 15 character minimum thus it is wrong. This is the bug I'm reporting: The characters remaining message and the characters left message do not take into account striping out @name prefixes.

enter image description here


5 Answers 5


If you start typing a comment on a normal post, but don't try to submit it until after the post becomes locked and/or deleted (when new comments are no longer allowed), you can get some weird error messages.

However, the culprit in this case is probably what Tim Stone suggested in a comment under your question:

It's less than 15 characters once the system strips off the @Shadow that was likely a candidate for auto-removal.

In other words, Jim was right before he struck out the first part of his answer. (But since he did strike it out, I'm updating/undeleting this answer.) The name was removed because of a feature rolled out in July.

Your own test under this answer proved that @PopularDemand 15 test, which is longer than 15 characters with the @ alert but shorter than 15 without it, would fool the yyy characters remaining counter but not actually post. The counter does not — and is not intended to — validate the contents of comments in any way.

  • It would not let me post your test case PopularDemand
    – Hogan
    Oct 26, 2011 at 3:27

As Mrozek notes in a comment, you can also hit the spacebar 15 times and fool the counter. The counter is stupid. Donno if I'd call that a bug considering it's not really meant to tell you that your comment is perfectly fine and can be submitted - it's just counting off characters.

The more serious bug here is that once you've failed, you have to wait before trying again. But that's already covered here: Comments that fail to post start the "You can only comment every 5 seconds" timer is now fixed!


Well, yes the counter isn't perfect here. If my username is already 15 characters, it thinks I've satisfied the 15-char rule. But it's backed-up by a pop-up afterward, so in a way you are getting feedback.

Let's look at the meaning though - SO doesn't want "Me too" and "Wazup Bubba" comments. So if you're annoyed once and then learn it and always give meaty comments afterward, it should be OK.


@<username> is the syntax for a comment reply - Read this community FAQ, there's a lot of . If the answer was written by Shadow, then your comment will be delivered to the inbox without needing the @<username> keyword. If @<username> is unnecessary, it is stripped out of the comment. It is not stripped if it is necessary to cause a ping, or if it is nonfunctional and won't cause a notification.

The easiest way to determine whether the @<username> will work is to make sure that it auto-completes. If it does not, then it is either unnecessary (and will be stripped) or nonfunctional.

Here's the start of a comment following Michael Mrozek's prescient comment to Jim's answer, where your name appears in the comment replies.

auto-complete working

Notice the auto-complete box. The "10 more to go..." counter is correct here.

Here's the start of a comment to your question, where you would already recieve a notification without the @<username> addition.

auto-complete not working

Notice that there's no auto-complete box. The "10 more to go..." counter is a lie.

This is OK because you're already doing it wrong. If you're typing a comment which will have content stripped, it's unnecessary to have the counter working. You're already in no-man's land. When you do something wrong, it's acceptable for the software to give you a wrong result and an error message.

  • I agree and understand everything you are saying (with nice pictures BTW) -- with one exception: "This is OK because you're already doing it wrong". If I'm doing it wrong that only makes it "OK" if the interface or the system is clear about my "wrong" actions. SO is lacking in providing a clear useful interface. Fixing it should be considered. Just saying... you don't understand the interface is not enough -- if the interface is not clear it should be fixed. (Unless our goal is to have a website only us 10k+ people understand).
    – Hogan
    Oct 26, 2011 at 13:22
  • @Hogan - Yeah, the 'error message' should probably be more explicit than a lack of the autocomplete box. Perhaps a ---strikeout--- of the errant @<username> would be more appropriate? Oct 26, 2011 at 13:29
  • Exactly, if js can hide the auto-complete should be easy to fix the count. A strikeout would be even better.
    – Hogan
    Oct 26, 2011 at 13:34

Tim Stone's comment beat me to the punch, but I doubt the 15 character minimum counts the @user tags.

If it did, you could comment "@reallylongusername12345" and not actually say anything. That would be rather annoying to reallylongusername12345.


There is a counter below the comment as you type it. It starts off counting "xx more to go..." until you reach the 15 character minimum, at which point it switches to "yyy characters left" until you reach the maximum comment length. Since your screenshot shows a counter of the second form, it has acknowledged that you have more than 15 characters.

Your issue is not as I thought.

  • @Jinmakesagoodpointthatreallylongusernamesareannoying
    – Hogan
    Oct 26, 2011 at 3:19
  • 1
    @Hogan I was trying to figure out why I got a notification even though you misspelled my name...took me a few seconds too long to realize it was because it was a comment on my answer... :(
    – yoozer8
    Oct 26, 2011 at 3:21
  • @Hogan Maybe now you can try that out?
    – yoozer8
    Oct 26, 2011 at 3:22
  • @Hogan Trying to post a short comment, I noticed the counter below the comment says "xx more to go..." until the 15 character minimum, at which point it switches to "yyy characters left" until the maximum comment length. Since your screenshot shows a counter of the second form, it realizes you have passed the minimum. Your problem is something else
    – yoozer8
    Oct 26, 2011 at 3:27
  • 1
    Exactly my point, the characters left had changed but then it gives me the message. But it is as Tim says -- it was because of the striped out portion from the @Shadow. The counter is wrong -- that is the bug.
    – Hogan
    Oct 26, 2011 at 3:29
  • 3
    The counter literally just counts how many characters you've typed -- it can be fooled many ways. For example, type 15 spaces and it'll say you've got enough, but trailing whitespace doesn't count, so the comment won't submit Oct 26, 2011 at 3:57
  • (Without text this tells me "Only 1 comment allowed per 5 seconds; timer reset.")
    – yoozer8
    Oct 26, 2011 at 16:21
  • And it deleted all of the whitespace at the beginning of that comment
    – yoozer8
    Oct 26, 2011 at 16:22
  • 1
    The comment "S h o r t ." is also declined, although it has no trailing whitespace at either the beginning or end, and is 15 characters long.
    – yoozer8
    Oct 26, 2011 at 16:23
  • π–²π—π—ˆπ—‹π—π–Ύπ—‹.
    – tchrist
    Jul 18, 2014 at 1:27

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