I know that comments doesn't have to be very constructive, and I have to admit I leave some "google it"-like comments every now and then, but is it frowned upon to leave a "tl;dr"-type (too long;didn't read) comment?

Just to make myself perfectly clear:

Scenario 1: A person asks a very complex question which requires a wall-of-text question.

Scenario 2: A person asks a rather simple question but posts non-relevant code and/or information.

Of course I'm only asking this in the context of scenario 2.

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    tl;dr --------- – bobobobo Jun 6 '12 at 20:25
  • I'm going to pee. – BalusC Jun 6 '12 at 20:30
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    ^-- that was not so relevant to you and the other readers? Such a tl;dr comment falls in the same category to the OP and the other readers :) Just don't post it. Ignore the question and move on, or be at least helpful so that OP can fix it. – BalusC Jun 6 '12 at 20:59
  • @Chichiray One could make the argument that "tl;dr" is helpful. I'm not trying to though. – keyser Jun 7 '12 at 18:10
  • + 1 A very good question :) – Siddharth Rout Jun 7 '12 at 18:26

Do you mean literally say "tl;dr"? If so, then that's just rude and not constructive.

However, I personally don't see anything wrong with leaving a polite comment stating that the question seems to be too verbose, and ask them to reduce it. If you see how it could be made more to-the-point, add those suggestions to your comment. If it's something you can do yourself, because it's plainly obvious, then just do it. Otherwsie a comment is the safe choice.

Anything you can do to (constructively) make the question better is worth it.

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    Isn't tl;dr short of the 15 char minimum? – Mike B Jun 6 '12 at 20:19
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    I would hope that the title functions as the "tl;dr" part. – BryanH Jun 6 '12 at 20:19
  • @MikeB Yes it is, but that doesn't mean that it's prevented. For example, you could post it as a link linking to some constructive or funny (i.e. non-constructive) page. – keyser Jun 6 '12 at 20:24
  • @Keyser Then it's not literally tl;dr, its that with a possibly-constructive link? – Mike B Jun 6 '12 at 20:27
  • @MikeB Yes, but my question only applies to non-constructive links. Just pointing out that the char min-limit isn't an issue. Let's assume that any text following the "tl;dr" is non-offensive and non-informative :p – keyser Jun 6 '12 at 20:32
  • @MikeB There certainly used to be ways to game the 15 char minimum; maybe they've been closed off now… – Donal Fellows Jun 6 '12 at 22:07
  • @DonalFellows Circumventing the validation to leave anything is probably discouraged – Mike B Jun 6 '12 at 23:02
  • My current variant is mainly SSCCE links. – keyser Mar 5 '15 at 16:16


Are “tl;dr” comments offensive and/or discouraged?

Offensive : NO

Discouraged: YES

Rude: YES

tl;dr? Heck I didn't even know that this term existed. If I would have asked a question and you would have replied back with that comment, I would have simply asked you to explain what you meant?

Result : Time wasted. Energy wasted. Productivity - Zilch!

Think of it this way... Would you like that to happen when you posted a question? :)

On a funnier note, I might have even replied with this

"Hi, last night a blind witch stole my magical sphere. I have been scratching the crinkled hair on my hairy chest and stupidly staring at the screen for the last 10 mins but am still unable to understand the magical spell that you are trying to share with me. I give up!!!!"

On a serious note,

In such a scenario Scenario 2, here are few things that one can do.

  1. Downvote + Leave a comment

  2. Asking the user politely to amend and rephrase the question

  3. Read the entire stuff, edit it and make it more presentable.

Which one you choose from above is entirely up to you. I personally prefer the 3rd way. But then it again depends... If the post needs a complete overhauling then I go in for the 2nd way.

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  • Ah I see someone who prefers the 1st way LOL. Would really appreciate a comment so that if required I can improve on future posts :) – Siddharth Rout Jun 7 '12 at 6:11
  • Too much formatting, abuse of nested quotes, bad list. – Arjan Jun 7 '12 at 16:40
  • @Arjan: Thank you for your honest feedback. I appreciate it. However I do not understand what you mean. If you do not mind, could you elaborate on it a little bit? – Siddharth Rout Jun 7 '12 at 16:44
  • @SiddharthRout: + 1 I agree with point 3 myself. Let's keep the community clean! – Pradeep Kumar Jun 7 '12 at 17:17
  • What's the difference between rude and offensive (in this context)? – keyser Jun 7 '12 at 18:09
  • @Keyser: Technically speaking i.e if you go by the dictionary meaning then there is no difference. But there are words which can be rude and not offensive and there are words which are offensive but not rude. It totally depends on the usage of those words. English language is very well known for that :) – Siddharth Rout Jun 7 '12 at 18:13
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    I completely agree, and I'm going to change my wording. It should say "rude" and not "offensive" in the title. I'd say that something offensive is something one easily could take personally, like racism. Rudeness isn't. – keyser Jun 7 '12 at 18:20
  • @Keyser: Absolutely Spot on :) – Siddharth Rout Jun 7 '12 at 18:24
  • When you want to quote something, use only one > at a time. If you use >>>, that is a quote of a quote of a quote, and it creates so much padding it makes it annoying to read. – BoltClock's a Unicorn Jun 8 '12 at 1:43
  • @BoltClock'saUnicorn: Thank you for taking time to explain that. Much appreciated. – Siddharth Rout Jun 8 '12 at 1:58

I think they should be encouraged. An executive summary is always nice.

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    @Keyser -- I think LoneCoder misinterpreted the question, and you missed his misinterpretation. I think LoneCoder is referring to the practice of preceding a wall-o-text with a short summary that starts "tl;dr", for use by people who don't want to read the whole thing. I agree that this is an excellent practice, and I hope that LoneCoder gets voted up for saying so. – Ernest Friedman-Hill Jun 6 '12 at 21:45
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    tl;dr: tl;dr is good – BoltClock's a Unicorn Jun 7 '12 at 0:27
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    Even if Lone Coder intended to refer to using it in questions, still +1 for use in comments too. I favor such comment over an anonymous downvote. Of course, one could write a longer comment, but I don't find the short version rude. – Arjan Jun 7 '12 at 6:10
  • @ErnestFriedman-Hill I think he meant that "tl;dr" comments prompts the user to write a summary. – keyser Jun 7 '12 at 6:25

If you're talking about comments saying that the post was too long to read, then yes, these should be discouraged. Provisionally.

The provision being that the OP's longwindedness actually had a point. If it was just rambling on and on about nonsense, then a downvote + comment is entirely reasonable. If it was just a long block of code saying "this doesn't work, please fix it." then the same applies (though a good close vote helps here too).

But if the text all has a legitimate point to make, then no. As long as it's not gratuitous, there's no reason for someone to comment that a post was too long.

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    If someone comments that a post was too long to read, and that same person couldn't be bothered to edit it to make it more concise, isn't that just being lazy? – BryanH Jun 6 '12 at 20:21
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    @BryanH I wouldn't call that lazy. People could very well have the time to post "tl;dr" without having the time to actually edit (which takes, approximately, 10x more work) – keyser Jun 6 '12 at 20:47

Scenario 2: A person asks a rather simple question but posts non-relevant code and/or information.

When I run across these, I prefer to edit them and remove the non-relevant bits and cruft. I would encourage others to do the same, so we can have a nice place. :)

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  • I do the same, when I'm 100% sure which parts are relevant and which aren't. – keyser Jun 6 '12 at 20:19
  • @Keyser So it's only when you aren't 100% sure that information is relative that you announce to everyone that you didn't read it? No wonder you can't tell if it's relevant. – Paul Jun 7 '12 at 2:47
  • @PaulPRO No, that's the condition for editing. It's very common that I don't find the question interesting enough to edit, or maybe I simply don't have the time. I comment on 10 times more questions than I edit. That isn't unusual behaviour and you should know this :p I'm guessing you do though. My fault for leaving myself vulnerable like that. Also, I think you meant "relevant" both times. And, I feel a hint of sarcasm in your comment, but I'm actually not sure, so I'll let this boring response stay until you confirm it. – keyser Jun 7 '12 at 18:32
  • If that^ came off as arrogant it was only partly on purpose. – keyser Jun 7 '12 at 18:34
  • @Keyser Yes haha I meant relevant both times. I was tired. I rarely edit unless it's a quick "Ctrl+K" to format someone's code. – Paul Jun 7 '12 at 18:39
  • @PaulPRO I had no idea that ctrl+k was the keyboard shortcut for formatting :D thanks for inadvertently teaching me that :p Also, I do the same (+ grammar. I hate bad grammar). – keyser Jun 7 '12 at 18:50

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