This is somewhat but not quite entirely the same thing as this.

Simple thing - sometimes I'd like to refer to a comment or an answer on the same thread. I know I could simply use a full link to that comment or answer. But that triggers a full page re-load.

However, why not just link to it via the fragment ID, like this (Markdown code):

As noted in this [comment][1] and this [answer][2] ...

[1]: #comment123456789_987654321
[2]: #123456789

This looks simple enough and seems unambiguous, but it does not work.

Are there technical reasons that speak against allowing this?

  • Probably just the parsing isn't equipped to parse URLs that don't start with http:// (and if it were, it may still force a full reload depending on the implementation of how the URL gets rewritten through markdown). Also, what browser are you using? Clicking on such a comment link in Chrome, at least, is smart enough to not reload the page. – Aaron Bertrand Sep 3 '13 at 20:05
  • It allows urls that start with /, so site-relative links do work. But question titles tend to change, so do the link slugs, which means the site-relative link would have a chance of breaking at some point. Which in turn defies the point of having #fragment links. – Tomalak Sep 3 '13 at 20:07
  • Ok, so http:// or / - still those will be URLs that include a page reference. Also, title changing does not break the link - it merely forces an unnecessary reload. – Aaron Bertrand Sep 3 '13 at 20:16
  • @Aaron Yes, sloppy phrasing on my end. The page reload is what I want to avoid, so "break" means just that in this context. :) – Tomalak Sep 3 '13 at 20:32
  • So can you cite some actual, live examples where comments linking to other comments should be permanent, and the information not incorporated into a post on the page? – Aaron Bertrand Sep 3 '13 at 20:34
  • That's difficult because I'm afraid we disagree about the value of comments. I don't think they are second-class citizens that can go away any time. You seem to do. (Frankly, I'm quite irritated by the fact that entire comment threads/discussions get deleted by mods without warning because comments as such are not deemed valuable enough to keep them. I've seen it happen more than once, but let's not get into this right now.) – Tomalak Sep 3 '13 at 20:46
  • Well the network as a whole disagrees with you. Comments can go away at any time, and they are not intended to be permanent. Related: meta.stackexchange.com/questions/81576/… – Aaron Bertrand Sep 3 '13 at 20:50
  • I know that there are people that would like to get rid of comments altogether. I can't disagree more with that stance. The idea to have a script that deletes comments older than N days is shockingly stupid in my opinion. But as I said, let's not get into that discussion here. – Tomalak Sep 3 '13 at 21:06
  • the point is, the very people who would be charged with developing this work, never have and never will promote comments as a first-class citizen. Just because you think they should be does not make them so. – Aaron Bertrand Sep 3 '13 at 21:17
  • And as I said, comments are only one application. If it helps, forget "comments" and think "answers". The real question is, "Why don't fragment URLs work in the markdown editor and could we make them?" – Tomalak Sep 4 '13 at 7:14

To be honest, I don't know that we need this, except to keep comments from going over the limit (and not many people are going to be in favor of that, given comments' second-class status, etc).

After all, the full link works as a URL without a page reload in my browser, and is easier to construct (simply right-click the timestamp of the comment and copy URL) than getting just the # part of the URL (which involves an additional step).

Now, and again in my browser, the title changing does not break the link (example - I put two linked comments there, one with the old slug, one with the new slug). Both links continue to work, within the page or from anywhere, even though one contains an outdated slug. When the title has changed, it does force a reload on the same page, but this seems like an edge case I'm willing to live with - again, comments are not meant to be permanent, and I wonder how often we need a link to a comment in the same thread to be maintained, especially when most of those comments are probably obsolete once the question has been edited.

In the end: they're comments. With links to other comments. On the same page. Neither of which should last forever. If either comment contains useful information, edit it into the post.

Can you please cite multiple examples where this functionality is demonstrably useful?

  • Oh, the "can you come up with an example that this is really useful" argument. That's not easy because whatever example I come up with you will not find useful. ;) Also, it's beside the point. Firstly, the example really is as simple as "sometimes I'd like to refer to a comment on the same thread" and secondly, maybe more importantly, is there a technical reason not to allow it? Would it break anything? Would it have the potential to? If no, then what exactly would speak against it, given the fact that links to comments are, after all, allowed? – Tomalak Sep 3 '13 at 20:38
  • @Tomalak The dev team has a finite amount of resources and a limited amount of time. If the feature doesn't work now, then it will require development effort, QA, regression testing, etc. While I may agree that I see no reason why this shouldn't work now, if I am to support your request that resources go into making it work, I'd like you to convince me that this is more important than any of many other feature requests I'd like to see implemented (and do find useful). – Aaron Bertrand Sep 3 '13 at 20:40
  • @Tomalak And I think I clearly stated my reasoning for currently not finding this work worthwhile: I don't know of any cases where (a) a comment has linked to another comment in the same thread and (b) the title has changed (or the user is using a browser that doesn't link to #bookmarks without reloading) and (c) the comments should stay intact long enough for this to really matter. – Aaron Bertrand Sep 3 '13 at 20:43
  • As to "time and resources" - I understand the argument. My gut feeling is that it would not be a particularly difficult change, and without the potential for much breakage. So I put up the question to see the community reaction. BTW: This applies to cross-references to different answers on the same thread just as well as to comments. The real question might be: Can we support fragment links in the markdown editor? – Tomalak Sep 3 '13 at 20:54

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