Here is a problem I faced with:

  1. Try to submit an answer with less characters (29), than minimum required (30)
  2. Error shown Oops! Your answer couldn't be submitted because: body must be at least 30 characters; you entered 29
  3. Quickly add one more character. Click Post Your Answer.
  4. Captcha is shown (possibly because you did two edits in less than 30 seconds). Forget about being the first one to answer.

The only way to avoid capture is to wait 30 seconds after adding that one character. Odd?

So, why not to check answer length on client side? E.g.

  • Disable post button until required characters count entered (see Twitter)
  • Show message before posting to server
  • 6
    "Forget about being the first one to answer."...and that matters why exactly?
    – Bart
    Apr 10, 2012 at 14:44
  • If that does not matter, why answers have timestamp? Anyway its matter of usability. Why should I enter captcha after adding one symbol? Why answer was posted to server, if it has not enough characters? Apr 10, 2012 at 14:52
  • 5
    "If that does not matter, why answers have timestamp?" This is not a serious question, is it? Apr 10, 2012 at 18:09
  • FGITW isn't really important. Answers are shuffled for a good long time, so the ordering will not be set in stone. Apr 11, 2012 at 6:50
  • When answer is epic, then FGITW is not important. As stated in question, this all about short answers, which less than 30 characters. Examples you can find in other comments. Anyway I don't see reason why to protect bad usability. Do you? Apr 11, 2012 at 7:17

3 Answers 3


I think this would be a useful feature that should be relatively easily to implement.

I think it's useful to note that Stack Overflow already has this for comments: client code prevents comments from attempting to be submitted unless they meet the minimum length requirement.

Why not add this for answers, too.

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  • Stop slacking...
    – casperOne
    Apr 11, 2012 at 17:29
  • Dude - I got the job! Scoping out co-working locations in Colorado Sprongs now. I'll be sure to break 10k before my glorious meta usage is curtailed. @cas Apr 11, 2012 at 17:41
  • So your definition of winning is to drop out of the competition? That's just sad. =)
    – casperOne
    Apr 11, 2012 at 18:41
  • @casper - think of it more as retiring. On top :-) Apr 11, 2012 at 19:01

I think this is a bad idea for two reasons:

  1. Client side checks can easily be worked around, and is likely why the checks are server-side right now
  2. If you can fit an answer into only 30 characters, then either the question or the answer is a bad fit for the Q&A format of the SE network

Note: Point #2 is why there's a Fastest Gun In The West problem - post a quick, short answer to get yours in first, then come back later to flesh it out. By appearing first, you can game the system to get more upvotes.

There are plenty of sources explaining how to write a good answer on the network - not a single one would result in an answer that fits into 30 characters.

  • 6
    Both your reasons miss the point. Client side validation is for convenience, not security (nobody said we'd have to get rid of the serverside aspect), and the fact that short answers are likely to be bad has no relevance to this request.
    – a cat
    Apr 10, 2012 at 14:52
  • Who said anything about security? It's about keeping the network clean of spam that could quite easily fit in less than 30 characters. Of course #2 is relevant to this request - what's more important to the network? Allowing people to post short, useless answers, or implementing spam controls (regardless of how irrelevant you consider them to be)?
    – RivieraKid
    Apr 10, 2012 at 14:55
  • @RivieraKid, thanks for pointing to Fastest Gun in the West, interesting to know that :) But lunboks got the point - I'm asking not about removing validation from server. But about adding quick simple validations to client. Apr 10, 2012 at 14:58
  • @lazyberezovsky Well then you're left with point 2, which is still that if you're writing an answer that's less than 30 characters, then it's too short to be a good answer.
    – RivieraKid
    Apr 10, 2012 at 15:04
  • @RivieraKid, why short answer can't be good one? E.g. when some regular expression asked. Why should I write ten lines about purpose of regular expressions, instead of providing pattern? Apr 10, 2012 at 15:31
  • First, there is no fastest gun in the west problem. Second, client-side checks are not a substitute for server-side checks; they merely exist in addition to server side checks, to increase usability. Apr 10, 2012 at 15:54
  • @AdamRackis - clearly lazyberezovsky wants to be the FGIW; I quote: "Forget about being the first one to answer"
    – RivieraKid
    Apr 11, 2012 at 9:25

This is necessary for comments because it's likely that users will try to comment with <30 characters.

For answers, much more detail should be present. 30 characters is incredibly short. No answer should be close to this length, in fact, posting an overly-short answer generates an automatic low-quality answer flag.

Answering quickly is nice, but I don't want to make 30-character answers any easier to generate.

  • Then let's raise the limit. Either 30 characters is acceptable, or it's not. If it's acceptable, then a simple client script preventing the submission of answers with < 30 characters is (imo) good UI design. Apr 10, 2012 at 17:53
  • @Kevin Vermeer if you are going to generate something, I don't think that length of generated string will matter. Or it is much harder to generate 30 characters, comparing to 29? About short answers - here some samples: Call text.Split(new char[] { ',' }, 2), Add null-check before using x, {^[A-Za-z]+$} etc Apr 10, 2012 at 18:39
  • 2
    @lazyberezovsky - your samples are all bad answers. That's why the limit is there. You are completely ignoring the fact that a good answer, as defined and required by the SE network is expected to have some kind of relevant exposition.
    – RivieraKid
    Apr 11, 2012 at 9:24
  • @RivieraKid again, you missing point completely. I don't suggest to remove validation. And I think answer should show the idea, leaving something to think about for person who asked question. Not stupid copy-paste. Apr 11, 2012 at 9:41

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