I have been rather annoyed both as a user and as a moderator with the number of "wall of text" comments streams I am seeing. By this I mean comments from a single user split across the character limit into any number of comments. that I cannot recall any instance of this that was really constructive.

The character limit on comments exists for a good reason, yet it is not getting enforced. I'm looking at a user that just ran on for 12 comments in a row in reply to one of mine. It is simply too easy to abuse the comment stream to dump a stream of conciseness into the comment system without having to evaluate whether they are in the right venue.

I propose that:

  • limiting successive comments from a single user to 2 to still allow the comment system to be used as intended without being a content dumping ground...

  • extending some grace to comments that ping different users so that replying to more than set of feedback isn't restricted...

  • imposing a hard total number of comments per user per post so that run on discussions would HAVE to be migrated to chat (within a couple messages of the hint level that exists)...

  • allowing users to post a new one to replace any they delete to encourage increasing clarity and focus rather that allowing it to drift...

...would rarely hinder the kind of usage the comment system was designed for and would catch a lot of the abuse situations an make the perpetrators responsible for cleaning up their own messes and working within the system.

I can easily see this being relaxed on meta sites where discussion is encouraged, but for main sites, the main use of asking for clarifications or providing constructive criticism would be improved if people had to re-factor their existing comments in order to keep going. The end result would be less time wasted by other users following abstract threads and more posts getting updated to reflect the feedback rather than responding in spanned comments.

  • Totally agree with the consecutive limit and the hard total number. – Maxime Lorant Feb 12 '14 at 17:04
  • Can you provide an example of the abusive behavior, or link to the conversation you cited? – Robert Harvey Feb 12 '14 at 17:05
  • Strongly related: Limit number of comments per user per post – Robert Harvey Feb 12 '14 at 17:08
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    I can agree to this, and I'll admit I've submitted consecutive comments (max 2 or 3?). Except, if we are going to impose this, I feel that we should then improve what should count towards the character limit. For example, if someone is linking to a resource, is it fair that the long url they include using the []() tool should count towards the limit? I don't think the URL should, but certainly whatever text they include between the brackets. Or even when they use @ to notify a user, I feel that the username should be excluded from the limit. These improvements will help I feel. Cheers. – Anil Natha Feb 12 '14 at 17:12
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    I've seen people post 2 or 3 comments in succession, but I've never seen someone post so many comments that it's become a problelm – Sam I am says Reinstate Monica Feb 12 '14 at 17:14
  • However, if people delete their earlier comments to post new ones it may become completely opaque to anyone but the people talking since the initial comments are usually the ones that made the main points and then the rest are just arguing – Richard Tingle Feb 12 '14 at 18:06
  • Tangentially relevant; regarding the new chat room message scaring people off; Tone down the duplicate warning on creating a new chat room – Richard Tingle Feb 12 '14 at 18:26

Comments are intended as a safety valve to keep people from "voicing their concerns" in questions and answers. I think that putting the kinds of limits and complications on posting comments that you describe would just frustrate everyone, and push marginal behavior back into the questions and answers.

Some of the mechanisms that we already have for managing comment streams:

  1. A 15 second delay between posting consecutive comments.
  2. A system-raised moderator flag for long comment streams.
  3. Community-raised flags, with an automatic deletion mechanism.
  4. Unilateral deletion with a single community-raised flag, for comments containing certain stop words.
  5. Moderator nuking, with recent improvements that allow more careful pruning of comments.
  6. Moderator locks to prevent further comment posting
  7. Suspension for the most disruptive participants

In short, I think this is already pretty well covered.

  • Yes, it's so infrequent an issue that adding such blocks would really be a waste of developer time. Given point #2, if a user is consistently a problem, then an email discussion can be had with them to redirect the behavior. – Adam Davis 'ze-zir-zem' Feb 12 '14 at 17:23
  • Hi Robert, not sure if you read my comment to the post above. I understand your points, and they are all valid. However, I still feel that the suggestions I provided in my other comment may help in some cases. Cheers. – Anil Natha Feb 12 '14 at 17:25

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