When there are several comments some of them get hidden, which I don't mind, except when comments in the middle are hidden and I don't realize it till I get to the end. Then I have to unhide the comments and try to figure out which ones I haven't read.

The comments stay in order as they should so you can follow them but when you hide random ones in the middle you can loose the context of the comments until you unhide them all.

I have a couple of ideas that could help with this.

Put the Show X more comments at the top of the comments instead of the bottom

Put some indicator that there or hidden comments between these two

Comment this is the first comment
Comment this is the second comment
Comment this is the fourth comment, comment three is hidden indicated by the dots
Comment this is the fifth comment
Comment this is comment number nine, comment 6, 7, and 8 are hidden 

Where the dots equals some indicator that there are hidden comment between two comments

Finally you could highlight the newly shown comments when you hit the unhide comments link like you do when you post your question.


Just wondering if this could get a second look? Seems the community really likes the idea, and Jeff is ultimately who made the decision not to do it.

  • 30
    I like this suggestion. Subtle, and effective.
    – Shog9
    Commented Oct 4, 2009 at 5:40
  • 1
    I'll give this a few more days, if no one thinks the other two suggestions are good idea's I'll accept the one for putting the link at the top. Commented Oct 6, 2009 at 1:24
  • Didn't find your question, so I just posted a similar one (thanks to AnonJr for linking me here). My question contains an additional example, where the comments system leads to confusion, so I'd like to leave a link: meta.stackexchange.com/questions/43836/… (or should I rather post it here - but it's not really an answer to this question?) Commented Mar 24, 2010 at 19:48
  • 15
    @Jeff: How can this be declined with no comment whatsoever? It's not that this is difficult to implement and definitely would make the user experience better!
    – fretje
    Commented Mar 25, 2011 at 8:38
  • @fretje we actively suppress discussion, we don't encourage it. By design. Commented Mar 25, 2011 at 8:52
  • 19
    @Jeff: I don't see how this feature request has anything to do with suppressing discussion. If you really would like to suppress discussion, just remove the commenting system all together (especially now we also have the chat). If you don't remove it, you might as well make it better.
    – fretje
    Commented Mar 25, 2011 at 9:20
  • 2
    @fret I simply don't agree with this request and I am philosophically opposed to it on principle. Sorry. Commented Mar 25, 2011 at 9:52
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    Yes, it's always the same. You start reading the comments to see if they're interesting. Then you read the second comment, the third, the fourth. Suddenly you notice that something sounds weird. You look beneath the comments and see that there are 8 more. But you shouldn't have to care for that already since you haven't even read those 5 completely.. Then you remember that the hidden comments might be between the ones you've read already. You click on the link and have to read everything again. You also make a mental note to click on the link before starting to read next time. As always.
    – Robert
    Commented Mar 6, 2012 at 12:17
  • 4
    This is a very good idea. I couldn't agree more with Larry's (err ... Move more comments link to the top) suggestion ... If you can remove the comments dynamically, it would be easy to accomplish something like a bar or spacer to show. Putting the link to the top would make it indicated very clearly things are missing. I believe Jeff was opposed to this because he didn't originate it. Commented Dec 29, 2014 at 20:03
  • 2
    Good idea - I have been caught out by this as well. (Enjoy the gold badge too)
    – user273376
    Commented Mar 16, 2015 at 1:35
  • 5
    Yes. Please make this better. Ridiculously painful when there is good commentary on question/answer.
    – Cititzen
    Commented Apr 10, 2015 at 1:13
  • 1
    I actually don't agree with this one per se - but I thought that we should have something similar about the 'deleted comments' - as those are often wracking havoc in the comments context, people replying to someone/something no longer existing - maybe just a 'hint' at a comment of the past or x or something. I'm not sure if this was addressed before?
    – NSGaga
    Commented May 12, 2016 at 18:15
  • 8
    This was asked 6 years ago, and it is obviously a reasonable thing to do. Very odd that no reasonable solution has been found (implemented) for what is clearly a real UI problem.
    – Drew
    Commented Aug 6, 2016 at 2:13

6 Answers 6


If the 'show extra comments' link was at the top of the comments, it would be easier to see that some comments were hidden, and it wouldn't be necessary to number comments.

The link could be more obvious, too.

  • Okay this looks like the best answer, now just to get status planned tag.... I wonder if I could do that hehe Commented Oct 8, 2009 at 22:30
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    FWIW "Show extra comments" and "show more comments" both make it sound like the hidden comments are at the end. I'd go with "show hidden comments" for the link at the top. But I think this idea is definitely on the right track. Commented Jun 15, 2015 at 3:45

I like to suggest to simply use a slightly thicker separation line between shown comments if there are hidden comments between it. This can IMHO be done by adding an additional CSS class to the comment before or after the hidden comment(s). At the moment border-bottom: 1px dotted #DDDDDD; is used for the separation line (here on Meta.SO). If a hidden comment follows 2px and/or a different color could be used. This way different SE sites can also configure it using their site style.

This way it can be seen that there are hidden comments between up-voted once, which avoids confusion if there is an ongoing exchange with comments where the shown comments don't make full sense on their own. At the same time slightly thicker lines are not intrusive.


You might recall that we tweaked the UI for long comment threads in 2014. During the design and specification stage, we considered a large number of changes, including the some of the ones you suggested:

Put the Show X more comments at the top of the comments instead of the bottom

There are two problems with this:

  1. We want to maximize the odds that people who are about to comment on a post have read through all the comments, including the hidden ones. So we need to have the "show N more comments" be on the same line as the "add a comment" link. Putting that link on the top of the comment block would mean duplicating a UI element, which is something we try to avoid. This might be worth breaking orthogonality for, if not that:

  2. It's pretty hard to resist the impulse to press that button every time when the only information you have is that something is missing. Personally, I have a fear of missing out that leads me to do all the sidequests in RPGs and press any button that promises more of anything I'm vaguely interested in. I don't think I'm the only one either. We did an experiment on The Workplace where we hid all the comments on many questions. What we found was people expanded links way more often. If readers automatically expand comments before reading, it defeats the purpose of hiding comments.

Put some indicator that there or hidden comments between these two

We actually designed a pretty nice looking method for doing that:

Horizontal squiggle for the win!

But when we checked with a developer, it turns out this would cause performance problems. (At Stack Overflow, performance is a feature.) The problem is that it's very easy to grab the top N comments:

select top N ...
order by Score desc

And it's very easy to get the number of remaining comments:

select count(*) - N ...

But it's not possible to predict where the gaps are without loading all the comments and sorting them by CreationDate. For long comment threads, the very threads that we are talking about, page loads would take noticeably longer to stage content we don't expect most people to read. So this is a good idea that simply requires more developer effort than we can afford.

Finally you could highlight the newly shown comments when you hit the unhide comments link like you do when you post your question.

Now this is an idea we didn't consider as far as I know. Since the user has already asked for all comments on the post, there shouldn't be any performance reason not to show which comments are new. So I'm going to bring it up with the rest of the team.

  • I love the suggestion of "highlight the newly shown comments". Just saying... ;)
    – PM 2Ring
    Commented Dec 30, 2019 at 14:33

I have added this feature to Stack Overflow Extras (SOX):

It uses @Martin's idea of a thicker separation line to show the gap.

You can enable this feature (Add a darker border underneath comments if there are some hidden after it) and many more by installing SOX from the above link :)


Currently the 5 most upvoted comments are shown. But since it's rare for a Question/Answer to have more than 5 comments I think that there's no point in hiding comments at all.

Hiding comments on those rare events is confusing. And over all it doesn't help because it's rare.

On the other hand even "only" 5 comments consume a lot of space. So I think that 5 comments are already too much. Furthermore when you realize that there are hidden comments it's difficult to mentally integrate them into the sequence of the ones you've already read.

So one obvious solution is to show only one comment. This way you're still able to read the best rated comment without having to click somewhere. And if you want to read the other comments you can still click on "show X more comments". But it's easier to mentally integrate the 1 comment you've already read into the others. And because now it's usual to have hidden comments it's easier to remember to unhide them before starting to read.

  • 4
    Considering how often I have to unhide comments, I wouldn't consider more than five comments to be rare. Far from it. Otoh I believe it likely that the 5 comments chosen are representative, and I won't have to read them all. The same cannot be said if only a single comment is displayed.
    – MvG
    Commented Sep 13, 2012 at 18:54

Comments are not meant to be discussion between each other, and for that reason they are not threaded. The best voted comments are shown by default with an indicator at the bottom that there are more comments.

Additional notification that there are comments between the highlight comments is unnecessary, and adds more UI clutter. It is generally obvious if highlighted comments are directed in response to a non-highlighted comment, and those that are curious can certainly show all comments to see the timing of each. This is especially true since people are using the @ notification system.

Further, comments are actually not very common, and more than 5 comments in a given post are not very common given the number of posts on the site. Those that are interested in the full details of discussion on a particular post are easily able to view the whole thing in order with a single click, and are notified that there are more with that message.

Adding more UI clutter without simply going full out to a threaded comment system doesn't really make sense.

  • 8
    I think, the clutter would be quite minimal. And just like in many forums, chats etc., I think that a discussion can be displayed very well without a fully threaded comment system (I actually strongly prefer this way of reading, because it's easier to make sure you've read all of it, and to be sure, which answers can't possibly depend on some other answer). But if comments are left out completely from the thread, it becomes impossible to read. Commented Mar 24, 2010 at 20:22
  • 1
    Also, I basically always have to scroll, because I like to keep the answer on my screen while reading the comments. Commented Mar 24, 2010 at 20:23
  • 6
    On English.SE, we often have more than five comments, and I have been mislead into total confusion by the unmarked trimming—unmarked at the top and unmarked at the point where the actual trimming occurs, that is. Commented Jan 23, 2011 at 21:23
  • 7
    Making the comment separator line slightly bolder when there are hidden comments "behind" it hardly qualifies as adding more UI clutter.
    – Marti
    Commented Feb 15, 2011 at 16:27
  • "Comments are not meant to be discussion between each other". Missing (hidden) comments that that are part of a "discussion" is not the main concern (for me and others), it is very much secondary. The main concern, is that when the hidden comments are revealed, they are inserted at their proper places among all the other visible comments (as they should be), where you have already read some or all of the visible comments. It then generally requires that you re-read all or most of the initially visible comments. if some of the hidden comments are parts of a discussion is irrelevant to this. Commented Nov 20, 2016 at 21:28
  • 1
    "It is generally obvious if highlighted comments are directed in response to a non-highlighted comment" 1) When you are referring to "highlighted" and "non-highlighted", I assume you mean "visible" and "not-visible", or "shown" and "hidden". None are actually "highlighted", so this is a tiny bit confusing. Commented Nov 20, 2016 at 21:28

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