As a little feature to prevent comment spam, you can only enter one comment every 15 seconds. That's a very reasonable limitation, since you very rarely have a good reason to write comments that quickly. I've only seen it twice at all, I think, but both times it was extremely annoying.

Only 1 comment allowed per 15 seconds; timer reset.

The reason is that every time you hit the limit, the 15 seconds begin anew. You have no indicator that tells you when you are allowed to comment again, and if you hit enter after just 14 seconds, you're back to zero. Yesterday, I went through four cycles of not quite 15 seconds, counting in my head, before I got a myself a coffee and tried again afterwards.

I suggest that you do one or more of the following (in decreasing order):

  • Make the counter non-restarting
  • Add a visible countdown
  • Make it clearly visible that you can't comment right now
  • You can actually increase the waiting time, if it is clearly visible and there is no unnerving invisible countdown. Actually, just remove all comment fields after one comment, and tell the user to reload the page. Just please don't have UI elements that look like they would work, but feel like they are trolling you.
  • 2
    The timer reset will prevent a scripted loop to do any harm. Commented Jan 17, 2013 at 21:18
  • Agreed, but there's practically zero chance it will be fixed. They won't do anything about a similar but even more annoying misfeature, no way they'll do anything to this one either.
    – JJJ
    Commented Jan 17, 2013 at 22:12
  • 41
    A scripted loop is better at measuring time intervals than a human being. It will comment spam with the greatest of ease.
    – user200500
    Commented Feb 16, 2013 at 16:00
  • I never had this problem on the mobile version.
    – Vlad
    Commented Feb 18, 2013 at 5:42
  • 2
    Possible fix: change the message to say "Only 1 attempt to comment allowed per 15 seconds, whether successful or not; timer reset." Now at least the message accurately describes the situation!
    – AakashM
    Commented Feb 18, 2013 at 16:06
  • 4
    I propose a MMO-like visible cooldown for the Add Comment-"skill" Commented Jul 18, 2013 at 13:50
  • 8
    It seems everyone agrees that this is really annoying and yet nothing been done so far. And even more annoying is the lack of response from SO team. I don't think this can possibly be justified by anyone. This is NOT just a new request. It's been asked two years ago.. And they say "for the community by the community..".
    – user210447
    Commented Aug 14, 2013 at 21:18
  • 5
    Man, bounties are *&@$ useless on Meta. I've lost 100 rep and have to award it now to ... someone. Despite the fact that nothing new has been done on this feature request. Sigh. Commented Sep 3, 2013 at 20:21
  • This is the SO version of Cookie Clicker (pointless, repetitive clicking..)
    – bobobobo
    Commented Nov 3, 2013 at 22:35
  • 1
    Here is the guide to rate limiting. Commented Jan 1, 2014 at 21:32
  • 7
    This feels like a lingering Jeff-ism.
    – Jeremy
    Commented Apr 9, 2014 at 19:41
  • 3
    @LightnessRacesinOrbit In another life I gave away a lot of bounties. I learned that they're a blunt instrument for getting attention. They say "someone, anyone, post something", and rarely get the attention of the people you really want. I switched to using them almost exclusively to reward existing answers on inherently interesting topics. This was ironically much more effective at getting the attention of the very users I was previously hoping to attract to unanswered questions.
    – AndrewC
    Commented Apr 14, 2014 at 1:08
  • @DragonLordtheFiery: There is next to no comment spam on SO and rate limiting has nothing to do with that. It has to do with the reputation barrier. Your blog doesn't appear to be a relevant datapoint. Commented Oct 29, 2014 at 17:11
  • 2
    I think the solution to this problem is an autoflag for potentially abusive commenting, not a resetting timer. Keep the rate limit at 15 seconds, and have Community ♦ raise a flag if a user posts more than, say, 12 comments in 5 minutes.
    – bwDraco
    Commented Jan 24, 2015 at 17:11
  • 1
    Not an Stack Overflow regular, so I'm not at all familiar with these issues. I'm mostly on Super User, which has far less volume.
    – bwDraco
    Commented Jan 25, 2015 at 3:18

7 Answers 7


Comment (and comment-voting) rate-limiting is one of the most irritating features on these sites and there are many requests to fix it, here's one.

Not everyone can time 15-seconds in their head well, and the big irritant is that once you get the message the timer reboots itself. So you get to sit there trying to time it again; it's like a game, but not a fun one.

EDIT: The comment voting rate limit has been eliminated, as per here.

  • 1
    Everybody says this. I don't experience it. Just tested on the comments on Lightness' answer. Vote on comment 1. Wait four seconds. Vote on comment 2: "wait a bit". Wait one second. Vote on comment 2, it takes. Might be a reputation thing, I should dig through Meta for references. Commented Mar 13, 2014 at 19:05
  • 1
    @MichaelPetrotta, it would be nice to know if they changed it. I occasionally get it, but not like I used to. Commented Mar 13, 2014 at 19:08
  • They did removed the rate limit to comment voting.
    – Braiam
    Commented Oct 12, 2014 at 16:05
  • @Braiam, do you have a reference for that? Commented Oct 13, 2014 at 13:46
  • @Braiam, thanks. I've edited the rate-limit guide. Commented Oct 13, 2014 at 13:51

Oh yes this is incredibly annoying!

There cannot be a reasonable argument for the auto-reset. I type and think quickly, and I multi-task. What begins as a reasonably quick comment job on a few answers on the same question (or even on different question on different tabs) becomes an arduous cat-and-mouse game with the SO interface.

And why? Because the interface wants me to "take more care and attention"? Thanks but I'll be the judge of that. This just hinders my workflow.


Quoting points 2 and 3 from your suggestions:

  • Add a visible countdown
  • Make it clearly visible that you can't comment right now

Addressing those, here is a userscript that does three things:

  • adds a timer to the error message
  • disables the comment form submit button for the duration of the timeout
  • lets you know when it is safe to comment (error message changes)

Here is a screenshot:

enter image description here

It would be nice if we could get something like this for all the timeout errors we have on the site.

// ==UserScript==
// @name        Comment Timer
// @namespace   http://example.com
// @include     http://meta.stackoverflow.com/*
// @version     1
// ==/UserScript==

$(document).ajaxComplete(function(e, xhr, options) {
    if(xhr.status == 409 && xhr.responseText == "Only 1 comment allowed per 15 seconds; timer reset."){
        var span = $('<span class="timer">15</span>'),
        $('.error-message').append(" Time remaining: ", span);
        function callback(){
            var time = ~~$(this).text();
                $(this).parent().text("You may submit your comment now.");
        $('.comment-form input[type="submit"]').stop(true, true).prop('disabled', true).animate({dummy:1},15000).queue(function(){
            $(this).prop('disabled', false);
  • 3
    Why disable input? So I can't type the comment while I wait? Disable the "Add Comment" button Commented Feb 18, 2013 at 9:08
  • 1
    @CodesInChaos Good point. Updated.
    – user200500
    Commented Feb 18, 2013 at 9:11
  • 1
    It would be nice to have this script published on userscripts.com (easier to install, auto-updates, easier to find when you're on a lended computer) Commented May 24, 2013 at 14:28
  • 1
    @JanDvorak I'm not planning on maintaining this and don't have an account on that site, but you're welcome to publish this there if you think it would be useful. I might update this to cover other timers (vote count fetching, comment votes) although those are non-resetting, so it isn't as big a deal.
    – user200500
    Commented May 24, 2013 at 14:48
  • Too bad Chrome doesn't allow arbitrary userscripts that aren't in the web store, any more :( Commented Jun 28, 2014 at 23:18
  • @LightnessRacesinOrbit Not directly, but dropping the file at chrome://extensions/ page used to work recently. Have they disabled that too?
    – user259867
    Commented Jun 28, 2014 at 23:44
  • @Thisismuchhealthier.: Yes that is exactly what they have disabled (stackoverflow.com/q/24095006/560648) Commented Jun 28, 2014 at 23:46

FTR, I have never changed my mind about a comment based on the timer being reset. I think the reason the timer was reset was to prevent users from pressing ENTER ENTER ENTER ENTER until the comment went through.

Was there a serious technical reason for needing to stop users from banging their keyboards? Or was it just "HEY! STOP BANGING YOUR KEYBOARD! THAT'S IT. YOU'RE WAITING LONGER NOW."

Another thing you could do to ease tension is show a little clock icon, about the size of the edit pencil. The clock fills up with black or red and when it is completely full, wait time is up.

  • 1
    You know, I think you're right. I'd never thought about it that way.
    – ɥʇǝS
    Commented Oct 29, 2014 at 15:51

I don't know enough JavaScript to attempt implementing this idea myself, or even to know if it is realistically possible, but as a work-around how about a userscript that enables you to enter multiple comments quickly, but buffers them and submits them to the system at 20 second intervals.


Replace the timer reset with an automatic flag for too many comments in too short a period of time.

  • The resetting timer is an annoyance. Yes, Jeff is right when he said that we must design for abuse. However, Jeff has tended to prefer strong automated solutions, even where it interferes with the user experience, because they avoid burdening moderators. Comment abuse is rare, so I don't believe this is an issue. As much as we want to avoid overburdening our "human exception handlers", there is often no substitute for human intervention.

  • Instead of resetting the timer on trying to post more than one comment per 15 seconds, have Community ♦ raise a flag on the last comment posted if some user posts more than, say, 12 comments in 5 minutes. That way, if someone or something does decide to abuse the commenting feature, it can be taken care of effectively.

  • The rate limit itself should stand at 15 seconds per comment.

  • 1
    How will it combat abuse when they've already gone and posted the comments? There is already a flag when there are too many comments on the whole, which would already cover when one or more users get comment chatty. Do not want to deal with yet another flag that will only be followed up by the existing flag behaviour.
    – random
    Commented Jan 24, 2015 at 18:21

Patience, padawan.

There are reasons this system is in place that go beyond spam protection. By forcing users to pause for fifteen seconds, they do just that: pause. If someone's posting an angry comment, they pause. It eases frustration and forces users to think for more than three seconds about what they're posting.

Of course it's a spam protection filter, but it also prevents careless comments. It also prompts, for thoughtful users, that they should instead edit their previous comment (when applicable).

And for those few users who can generate two well-thought-out comments in a span of fifteen seconds: patience. You do yourself no good obsessing over wasted seconds.

Edit: To clarify, I'm not saying I enjoy waiting, nor that my time is valueless. What I'm saying is that I do not let a fifteen second pause in my day frustrate me, much in the same way that being cut off does not frustrate me. I do my best to be patient with delays, and to stop the little things like this from bothering me. You don't have to agree with me. Still, I prefer the calm of patience to the stress of meticulous temporal preservation.

  • 25
    Sure, but when you've accidentally waited 14 seconds and submitted, to be made to wait another 15 seconds - which you may still guess wrong about - is crazy-making Commented Jan 17, 2013 at 19:26
  • 3
    @KateGregory There's this new-fangled invention that measures time. I think they call it clog or something similar. No need to guess anymore. Commented Jan 17, 2013 at 19:30
  • 14
    The thing is, we talk about "frustration", but the problem is not that we don't have patience or time. The problem is that the present solution is a bad user interface design. The comment box looks active, but it is not, and in fact the user gets "punished" for using it. As the instintual animals that humans are, one might even feel like the site is "acting up" against one. What makes it worse is that this site has an otherwise excellent user interface, and it's makers usually make the right decisions regarding the subtleties of human-computer interaction.
    – jdm
    Commented Jan 17, 2013 at 19:58
  • 22
    @DanielFischer if I have to start an external timer so I can see if it's 14 seconds or 15 seconds yet, how happy am I with that UI? I find it especially spiteful that it RESTARTS after I misguess. I see no good reason for that at all. It's just a mean joke. Commented Jan 17, 2013 at 20:42
  • 4
    I do not subscribe to the "don't fix poor interfaces — be zen and put up with it" mentality on a website dedicated to reporting problems with the interface. Commented Aug 28, 2013 at 10:34
  • 1
    The feature makes me more angry, not less. Commented Oct 29, 2014 at 17:09

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