Is it appropriate to put a really long answer on SO (and I mean really long)?

There are many questions asking how to implement a Rich Text or WYSIWYG editor using javascript. Examples include:

How to create a rich text editor

Rich Text Editor

Risk of using contentEditable in IE

None of these questions have a good answer, most of them just advise against implementing it yourself, or suggest using TinyMCE or similar. There is a good reason that all of the answers are like this, and that is that the answer is of necessity very long. My implementation tops out at just over 2000 LoC, and that is after stripping it to the minimal acceptable functionality.

As far as I know there is no tutorial for a WYSIWYG editor that goes beyond the basic execCommand commands anywhere on the web. However, after taking a considerable amount of time to figure it out myself, I feel like others could benefit a lot from a start to finish answer. My intention would be to create a new master question to house a complete introduction to contenteditable and the various browser quirks.

Unfortunately, with the code itself at 60000 characters+, an answer isn't going to fit in the 40k limit. I don't really think it can be split, as the resulting code would then not be functional. So what should I do?

  • 4
    It's not appropriate to ask a question that would require a really long answer. The questions you just linked to would, in all likelihood, be closed very quickly if they had been posted now. Commented Dec 9, 2011 at 0:41
  • 40K limit allows for a pretty comprehensive answers... I think :)
    – gnat
    Commented Dec 9, 2011 at 8:02

3 Answers 3


Break it down to a set of digestible components, and post each of those components as a question, offering an answer for each. As ProblematicTitleException has stated, your original proposal is a huge question, which puts you in danger of it being too broad for the site (and most people would learn better from a magazine article than a tome, given the same amount of time).

Rather than posting a massive amount of code, provide commented snippets which illustrate key points of your question/answers. Link to GitHub or your favorite equivalent to provide the full code. That way, your readers can get the gist without having to wade through.


On a question that isn't otherwise doomed, you may be able to limit the scope by citing a few bracketing examples. In the editor realm, for example,

  • a minimal implementation of a popular feature
  • an accessible, domain-specific example
  • a well-known, industrial-strength project

In most cases, reference to the best resources should be sufficient, appropriate and useful. Just provide the links after you have checked and verified them yourself.

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