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Other questions (e.g., this and that - there are lots, it seems) complain about the same problem but don't propose this particular solution for a common use case, AFAICT.

The reason given for the restriction (which is a PITA) is that you are worried about edits that might affect the meaning of a comment thread. AFAICT, that reason is irrelevant for the case where there is no thread following the comment. That's my suggestion: As long as your comment is the latest in the thread, there should be no time limit on editing it. And as soon as someone else adds a comment you should get the notification of a new comment (dunno whether this is already done), as is done for new answers.

Also there are lots of comments on a question or answer that do not result in a real "thread", even when there are multiple comments. In my experience, most comments are one-offs or relatively unrelated to other comments: they comment on the question or answer (usually helpfully) and do not refer to other comments. Meta is the big exception (perhaps those making such rules spend too much time on Meta?).

It is really poor UI to show an active edit link for a comment that you can no longer edit. And if your comment is the most recent one, I don't see why you shouldn't be able to take your time and add or correct information incrementally.

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    If there are no comments after it, then you can safely delete it and just re-post it with the edited comment. Why do we need to build this directly into the system? – animuson Mar 19 '14 at 2:50
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    @animuson: Sure, and you can also add another comment to continue it. Those are ugly workarounds for a broken feature, IMO. This should be user-friendly. Users should be encouraged to edit comments, as long as the thing you are really trying to prevent (thread revisionism) is prevented. – Drew Mar 19 '14 at 2:52
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    Isn't the comment edit link removed after 5 minutes, at least after you've refreshed? – Grace Note Mar 19 '14 at 2:54
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    @GraceNote Yes, but only after you refresh. If I keep this page open without refreshing, the edit link for this comment will still be here several hours from now. – doppelgreener Mar 19 '14 at 3:02
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    @GraceNote: Perhaps even a popup suggesting that you refresh the page would help (a kludge, but maybe better than nothing). What's silly is expecting the user to guess this implementation stuff and do things like refresh, delete and recreate, etc. Those are all ugly, user-unfriendly hacks. Using their existence as rationale for not trying to fix such problems is hand-waving. – Drew Mar 19 '14 at 14:26
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At first I misunderstood your point, but after re-reading while waiting for my comment to get to the point where it was obvious the edit link was not going to disappear I think I now understand.

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Your point was if a comment is the last comment on a post, then it should be able to be edited.

Comments are second rate citizens and as such, no significant amount of feature improvement will be given to them aside from maintenance. They also have other glaring issues (such as the fact that after an edit the content is not live updated - how many of you reading this have seen a context changing comment edit only after refreshing?).

As animuson points out, "If there are no comments after it, then you can safely delete it and just re-post it with the edited comment. Why do we need to build this directly into the system?" In my opinion, it does not need to be built in.

This would also add to the doppelganger effect because it would allow an infinite time window to wait until the next comment. If the author of the previous last comment waited, they could make a context changing edit when the next comment is posted. Perhaps in a slow thread this may not affect much, but then again, maybe the other person never noticed because comments do not live update.

Overall, a small edit link which becomes irrelevant is not poor UI, so much as a convention of not allotting resources to comments.

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  • How could "the author of the previous last comment...make a context changing edit when the next comment is posted"? As soon as another comment is posted the time would be up (assuming the time as measured currently has already elapsed). – Drew Mar 19 '14 at 13:58
  • Your argument seems to be, in effect, that since comments and commenting are not something you want to devote resources to improving, no resources should be devoted to improvement wrt this problem (why not arbitrary problem X while you're at it?). I think comments and commenting should be improved. Just because they are secondary and somewhat meta wrt Q & A does not mean they do not help users. They should be made more helpful, IMO. Why only "maintenance" instead of trying to fix this and other such "glaring issues"? – Drew Mar 19 '14 at 14:05
  • Just because there is a delete link, so a user can figure out a workaround to the problem, that is not a reason why users should have to discover and use such a workaround. And it is not a reason to show a live-but-unusable edit link. That just throws UI obstacles in the user's face. If the real answer is that you don't think the problem is worth the resources it would take to fix, fine - just say that. That would be too bad, but OK. I can't speak to what is reasonable wrt the implementation. I see the problem, as a user. It seems (naively) reasonable to ask that it be fixed. – Drew Mar 19 '14 at 14:20
  • @Drew - So if someone posted a comment after yours (in the infinite time window) would your current edit be immediately locked? My point was it probably wouldn't which would still allow an edit after the next comment was posted - which is undesirable. Further, asking for the edit link to disappear once the time window is cleared is a reasonable thing to ask for. But your request was more of a game changer in that it is asking for editing to have no time limit for the last comment. That is in my opinion not reasonable, a fix, nor maintenance. – Travis J Mar 19 '14 at 18:04
  • Yes, as soon as someone posts a new comment, if the usual time allowed (5 min) has already elapsed, then you would not be able to save the changes. IOW, same behavior as now, as soon as someone adds a comment. – Drew Mar 19 '14 at 19:38

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