I am new to Stack Overflow, and have quickly found that the comment box (that is, commenting on someone's answer/suggestion) is really, really, really bad.

Reasons why:

  1. Hitting Enter while typing results in the "accept comment" button being hit. What? Am I supposed to type HTML code for CRLF? Is this slashdot? This is terrible design.

  2. No formatting buttons. A new question or answer has all kinds of formatting exposed. But the comments get none. This is bad. It makes it more difficult to comment on a suggestion with blocks of code or other formatting.

  3. It automatically turns typed text into "friendly" text. Example: If I type a URL into the comment box, it turns it into a link and removes "http://" from it. That isn't what I wanted. I typed what I wanted, and then the site went and mutilated it.

Overall, I have to rate the comment box 0 out of 10. It's not only incredibly lacking in features, but it actually mutilates what I typed into something I didn't type, without even asking me. Bad. Just plain bad.

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    Guess what, we don't care all that much about comments. Questions and answers are what drive these sites. Comments are second class citizens at best. – Bart Apr 4 '13 at 19:14
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    CRLF? In comments?? Why??? – yannis Apr 4 '13 at 19:14
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    Comments are not meant to be extensive answers nor extensive questions. You should not put code block in comments, maybe a line, but surely not a block. For more help about comment formatting see Comment Formatting – Hugo Dozois Apr 4 '13 at 19:14
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    This isn't a forum. Comments are just for nudging the poster to improve his/her post. They are ephermal, and may be deleted anythime. We don't care much about them. – Manishearth Apr 4 '13 at 19:16
  • I agree on the first 2 points, but I like the way it handles hyperlinks. – Lance Roberts Apr 4 '13 at 19:18
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    Reading the title, I thought you were saying that in general, comments stink (not that the comment workflow stinks). I was about to vote that up, and then I read your post. – George Stocker Apr 4 '13 at 19:20
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    Regarding the CRLF thing specifically: Pressing Enter in comment box unexpectedly submits form (see Jeff's comment, #3 overall) – Pops Apr 4 '13 at 19:20
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    Don't even get me started on titles and tags! – Bill the Lizard Apr 4 '13 at 19:28
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    @BilltheLizard Multi-line tags would be AWESOME! – yannis Apr 4 '13 at 19:30
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    @itwally I'm just curious: why did you not simply address this constructively? Why run in as a new user and tell everybody that everything sucks? Why not simply ask why it is the way it is, and what the community thinks about your possible improvements? It might still not have been agreed with, but you would have made yourself less of a downvote target. You're by no means the only one to do this, but I always wonder what makes users do this... – Bart Apr 4 '13 at 19:33
  • What type of formatting do you need that is not available? Have you read the help that is available for formatting comments? What does it not provide that is absolutely necessary? You are able to use italic, bold, or write code in comments. If you want to add an url that is not a link, just use a code block such as http://google.com/. The only other thing you have requested is new lines; however, comments are meant to be short so they should be unnecessary. – Josh Mein Apr 4 '13 at 20:01

You're right. Comments are terrible. This is particularly obvious when you contrast the comment UX with the one available for answers.

It's almost as though the system is subtly suggesting that answers are preferable to comments.

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    I wonder what other subliminal messages you've worked into the system... – yannis Apr 4 '13 at 19:41
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    btw I don't mind the subliminal messages, but I hope at least you are being compliant to the standard: tools.ietf.org/html/rfc1097 – yannis Apr 4 '13 at 19:53
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    Little-known fact: if you play MSO backwards, it's a Beatles song. – Shog9 Apr 4 '13 at 19:54
  • But the thing is this: sometimes an answer is WRONG. Or needs FIXED. And the comments section is the logical place for feedback when that happens. The near-complete lack of formatting hinders communication -- it makes it more difficult to do that. That's just plain bad. – ltwally Apr 4 '13 at 19:55
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    Then write a better one, @Itwally - or edit the existing one. – Shog9 Apr 4 '13 at 19:56
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    @itwally Again what lack of formatting? You can do italics, bold, and put code in comments. What else do you need? You are saying it is bad, but the only thing you claim it is missing is new lines. Comments are supposed to be short. Why do we need to have paragraphs in comments? If it is missing something else, make your point clear because even after all this commenting you have made no new arguments. – Josh Mein Apr 4 '13 at 20:02
  • That's often the reply of *nix folks. And it's every bit as wrong here as it is there. Valid criticism helps make a product better. Sitting silently while bad design is created and enforced does not. – ltwally Apr 4 '13 at 20:11
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    @ltwally There's a distinct lack of suggestion for a list/description formatting functionality that's missing in your comment. He specifically asked you to provide the valid criticism you feel is so helpful and you choose not to provide any examples; instead you criticized him for now allowing you to provide your criticism (despite the fact that it's exactly what he was doing). – Servy Apr 4 '13 at 20:13
  • @Itwally so edit the existing answer to make it better. – djechlin Apr 4 '13 at 20:25
  • Regarding my prior comment, it was in reply to Shog9. At the time, the comment from Josh Mein was not displayed on my browser. Apologies for not putting the @shog9 there. – ltwally Apr 4 '13 at 20:34
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    Look, @ltwally - if you wanna leave criticisms, leave comments. Simple, clear, constructive textual comments. If you want to fix a wrong answer, then there are better ways to do that than trying to cram all of your fixes into a comment. Also, please don't waste my time here by claiming you want to fix something and then getting upset when I suggest that you go right ahead and do that. – Shog9 Apr 4 '13 at 20:42
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    @Itwally the "write a better one" was in reference to answers, not the entirety of Stack Overflow. If an answer sucks so bad you need to write entire code blocks to corrected it, you should probably just post a full answer that's correct. – Ben Brocka Apr 4 '13 at 21:00
  1. No, you're supposed to hit shift+enter (although the new-line will be suppressed anyway, by design). To educate the user of this, we do exactly what we do. This is pretty standard design. Just to name one obscure company that does it this way, take a gander at Facebook.
  2. It fits the majority use case and keeps comments shorter and less distracting from Q/A.

Anyway, you're also wrong - comments are pretty well-featured: https://stackoverflow.com/editing-help#comment-formatting. Yes, you would have to dig around to find this, but that's also true of answers, unless you're one of the rare people who masters markdown before visiting your first SE site.

More fully-featured comments would detract from answers and promote extended discussion, which is the opposite of what this site is for.

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    "No, you're supposed to hit shift+enter" newlines are suppressed in comments anyway (for good reason) – Ben Brocka Apr 4 '13 at 19:18

It would be great if newlines would work in some fashion in the comments, and if there were formatting tools for them.

I see no use case for NOT shortening the URLs, if you need it all in there as text then enclose it with backticks.

Related Feature Requests (pointed out by Popular Demand):

Fix the Bad Behavior of submitting the Comments upon hitting Enter.

How About Newlines Within Comments

Greasemonkey Workaround for Newline entering Comments

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    You may also be interested in the much older How about newlines within comments? – Pops Apr 4 '13 at 19:24
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    What would be so great about newlines in comments? – yannis Apr 4 '13 at 19:24
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    @ltwally There are no newlines in comments (even with shift-enter). – yannis Apr 4 '13 at 19:31
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    @ltwally: Comments aren't for paragraphs. On meta paragraphs may be useful, but not on main. – Manishearth Apr 4 '13 at 19:34
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    @ltwally You appear to still be missing the point: Comments should be short. If we allow paragraphs people will want bulleted lists, then headings, then more characters, etc. - At some point they're equal to answers, and Stack Exchange is a forum like any other, filled with noise and crap. – voretaq7 Apr 4 '13 at 19:35
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    @ltwally Just because you didn't expect the behavior seen doesn't mean nobody did. I find the UI completely intuitive and it behaves exactly as I expected it to from the moment I started using the site. You != Everybody. – Servy Apr 4 '13 at 19:39
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    And guess what, this is not a bulletin board. It's a Q&A...not even a Q&A&C – Bart Apr 4 '13 at 19:39
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    @ltwally If that's how you feel, then feel free to use every bulletin board on the planet but Stack Overflow (which isn't really a bulletin board to begin with). – yannis Apr 4 '13 at 19:40
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    @ltwally Well, most bulletin boards on the planet are full of crap, unlike SO which has much less of it. It's UI design is a large factor in that. So while it's clearly very different for you, that difference is what has generated the highly preferable result. In short, if you would like to use the site (which you're more than welcome to do) get used to it, don't expect it to become just another forum, because we don't want that. – Servy Apr 4 '13 at 19:40
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    Yannis, Servy, My point remains, and it remains valid: Discussing, refining, and commenting on a suggestion is done in the comments section, yes? And the comments section lacks horrible bad in formatting, which impedes communication. I did not say that I wished SO was another crappy BB. Only that those crappy BB's have superior formatting, and thus superior communication, to SO. I haven't seen a one of you actually refute that; you only say "get used to it". Bad is bad. This site's comments are bad. – ltwally Apr 4 '13 at 19:51
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    @ltwally What makes you more qualified to speak to what the majority of SO users think is good than me? – Servy Apr 4 '13 at 20:02
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    @Servy, I agree that you're right that people have adjusted and are used to the bad UI, and would probably fight to change it. It's amazing what people can get used to (me included). – Lance Roberts Apr 4 '13 at 20:09
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    @LanceRoberts I reject your assertion that it's a bad UI. You don't like it; that's okay. That doesn't make it bad. Also note that user expectations of UIs change over time. This behavior wasn't nearly as widespread 10 years ago, but now it's seen in a lot more places, so it takes much less time for someone to get used to the concept of enter being submit rather than newline. – Servy Apr 4 '13 at 20:12
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    @ltwally I've never used a chat client, ever, that has that behavior. I can think of a dozen or so off of the top of my head that have the behavior I've described. – Servy Apr 4 '13 at 20:28
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    @ltwally Challenge accepted! AIM, MSN messanger, mIRC, every single Java applet I've ever used for IRC chat (I don't know their names, but I've used at least 3-4), SE's chat, Skype, the ingame chat of most fullscreen games that I've played (although here sometimes shift-enter is used to differentiate show to everyone vs show to team/group/whatever) I assue you don't want me to start listing them all..., Facebook (just to piss you off ;), and MS Lync. – Servy Apr 4 '13 at 20:38

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