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Most Superuser questions can be comprehensively answered within the confines of 30K characters, however there are the occasional comprehensive answers that could benefit from additional comprehensive info that are unable to because of the 30K character limit.

  • I've come up against the limit several times while writing in-depth, comprehensive answers on Superuser, and when I do, I've had to get creative with how to edit small things to decrease the content below the 30K limit.

In some of my most comphrensive answers, markdown alone makes up a significant portion of the content to the tune of thousands of characters since I make heavy use of markdown and man page links - for example:

  • In this answer, I've had to remove content when making updates to it since it sits at 29,999 characters
  • In this answer, I had to limit the content to only one of four complex, applicable scenarios (Automate Windows Setup, Configuration Set, Distribution Share, Deployment Share), resulting in solely covering the first, and not the latter three, because I was at 29,956 characters
  • In this answer, I was unable to include the content of a Windows-formatted openssl.cnf since the answer was already at 29,596 characters without it (since the answer wholly relied on this specific customized openssl.cnf, it made sense to include the contents within the answer, even though it'll always be available on my GitHub)

A solution could be to exclude markdown and weblink addresses from the character limit, only applying the limit to the rendered output.

  • The intent seems to be to restrict the rendered output, which isn't the issue, it's the thousands of markdown characters in comprehensive, in-depth answers markdown is heavily used within because it makes the content far easier to digest and sift through


It's always seemed like Superuser and Stack Overflow are meant to be an authority on how to do what is asked, and both are professionally referenced by IT professionals and universities/colleges the world over, with a very large swathe of those sites' users being IT professionals.

I've provided three specific answer examples to avoid generalized statements:
(if issues are seen in those, by all means, but blanket, generalized statements really don't apply)

  • The answers linked to aren't on overly broad questions:
    • Folks are always welcome to their opinion, but the users who've viewed those questions didn't flag the questions as overly broad/vote to close (18K on the first, 6K each on the second and third ones) - the consensus by Superuser users is those questions are not overly broad

  • My answers are always focused, always written in an outline format with bullets restricted to a couple sentences at most, and always take weeks to write and format with markdown when it comes to comprehensive, in-depth answers north of ~15K characters

  • On highly complex answers, such as the one about LTI/ZTI Windows installs (it took over a month to write and format), Microsoft has never provided a step-by-step writeup of all that's required to link to; this gets even worse in regards to Deployment Shares, where the end user is largely left up to their own devices to figure out how to fully use MDT and correctly configure the Task Sequence (an example of one I created to demonstrate the complexity)
    • Microsoft provides no full, step-by-step writeup of how to fully configure an LTI/ZTI, or Deployment Share and its Task Sequence, that I've ever been able to find while scouring Microsoft Learn (used to be Microsoft Docs)
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    stray thought: with large code blocks in deeply nested markdown lists, you're using a lot of characters in markup indentation. I wonder how much you'd save by selectively switching to html tags and losing that markup indentation. <h1>, <pre><code>, <ul><li>, etc.
    – starball
    Commented Jun 18 at 1:59
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    The limit has been increased on some specific sites. Specifically, here on Meta.SE, the post length limit is 50,000 characters, and on Code Review, the post length limit is 65,536 characters. See the full list of character limits. Commented Jun 18 at 2:04
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    @starball I had never even thought of doing that, great suggestion! =]
    – JW0914
    Commented Jun 18 at 3:10
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    Depending on the circumstances, you might want to consider posting separate, multiple answers instead of a single, combined answer so that each solution/scenario can be evaluated and linked individually. There are legit reasons to post multiple answers on the same question. Commented Jun 18 at 5:37
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    Old duplicate question, since it's declined not closing as duplicate as it's fair to ask for a "second chance". However I still agree with what Jeff says there: If you "need" to post more than 30k chars, that's probably symptomatic of other problems Commented Jun 18 at 6:17
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    Comprehensive answers that require more characters are almost certainly on questions that are too broad and need more focus. Answering a broad, vague, unfocused question with all possible cases is not helpful; split the question into the cases you would be addressing and answer each directly. Don't make information-seekers wander through a bunch of irrelevant cases.
    – Nij
    Commented Jun 18 at 6:40
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    @ShadowWizard Could you please specify what would be symptomatic in the answers linked to?
    – JW0914
    Commented Jun 18 at 10:36
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    @Nij Could you please specify what in the answers linked to is too broad?
    – JW0914
    Commented Jun 18 at 10:37
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    As @Nij says, a question that requires that much explication is probably overly broad. However, consider what you described with respect to your second link: perhaps it would have been appropriate to write a separate answer for each of the scenaria in question. This keeps your answer(s) focussed, and with prefatory text indicating the scenario, somewhat emphasizes that the question is overly broad. Commented Jun 18 at 10:37
  • @JeffZeitlin I didn't realize posting more than one answer was allowed, thinking it was frowned upon on sites like Superuser. When it comes to highly complex solutions, such as an LTI/ZTI of Windows, the content is going to always be almost, if not exceeding, 30K characters due to the complexity of the steps involved, not because of an over-broad question (I was only able to list the bare minimum for Automate Windows Setup, versus add. helpful Components). I'll work on a second answer for a Deployment Share, knowing firsthand how complex they are to set up.
    – JW0914
    Commented Jun 18 at 12:02
  • In general, you're right - there's probably no reason to post multiple answers to a question that's overly broad; it's better to VTC or flag it as unfocussed. But if the question isn't overly broad and has complex answers, multiple answers - each focussed on a particular aspect that needs to be discussed in detail - shouldn't be a problem. As far as even a focussed answer being itself overly complex because of inherent complexity of the situation, consider whether it might not be better to summarize here, and then provide a (preferably rot-proof) link to the full solution. Commented Jun 18 at 13:12
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    @JeffZeitlin My intent isn't to be argumentative (hopefully I'm not coming across that way), simply to show there are questions that are not broad where the answer will be complex due to the steps/information involved. While I'd prefer a developer's man pages to be all-inclusive, Microsoft's man pages are not with LTI/ZTI installs. This is why I provided three specific answer examples, because I was trying to avoid generalized comments like those made by multiple folks. The intent seems to be to restrict the rendered output, which isn't the issue, it's the thousands of markdown characters.
    – JW0914
    Commented Jun 18 at 13:44
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    lots of long comments here... that maybe could be answer posts or edits to the question post.
    – starball
    Commented Jun 18 at 17:41
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    Side note: you use a lot of links, in which you can trim the protocol off i.e. https://stackexchange.com -> //stackexchange.com. In your first linked example you have 38 links, thats 38x5 = 190 extra characters.
    – Robotnik
    Commented Jun 18 at 23:32
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    @JW Glad to help :). For SE links specifically, there's a few other ways to eek out a few extra characters too, although I'm not sure how useful they'd be in your use cases. I wrote an answer with them over on Arqade Meta
    – Robotnik
    Commented Jun 20 at 0:27

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Summarizing and condensing from the comments:

  • If your answer is exceeding the limit, take another look at the question (and at your proposed answer), and make sure that the question isn’t closable as overly-broad (“needs focus”). If the question is well-defined and not overly broad, but deals with a subject that has enough complexity…

  • … make sure that your answer is focused. Don’t try to address too many disparate use cases in a single answer; break it up into one self-contained answer for each case. If even that causes you to exceed the limit on an answer, …

  • … write a summary of the case and your answer, highlighting key aspects, and provide a (preferably as rot-proof as you can arrange) link to the full detailed steps to solving the problem. For example, your summary could say “frabulate the potrzebie, then, if the potrzebie turns blue, kitzle the frammistan; otherwise, if it turns green, emmfozzulate the widget. If you need more detailed steps, see the detailed procedure at https:/ /example.com/resolve-this-problem” or link the phrases “frabulate the potrzebie”, “kitzle the frammistan”, and “emmfozzulate the widget” to their respective detailed instructions.

Always, always, always provide context when you’re linking to external resources. Make it clear that you’ve researched the problem, understand it and the solution, and are not just providing a link to the first random answer you found on the web.

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    ...aaand you just put your answer in another castle to work around a local issue.
    – Jamiec
    Commented Jun 19 at 11:55
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    Rather than splitting the answer into a local and remote part, it would be better to make each section into a separate answer. Commented Jun 19 at 14:59
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    I provided three specific answer examples because I was trying to avoid generalized statements. The answers linked to weren't on overly broad questions, my answers are always focused, always written in an outline format with bullets restricted to a couple sentences at most, and on highly complex answers such as the one about LTI/ZTI Windows installs, Microsoft has never provided a step-by-step writeup of all that's required; this gets even worse in regards to Deployment Shares. It's always seemed like Superuser and Stack Overflow are meant to be an authority on how to do what is asked.
    – JW0914
    Commented Jun 19 at 22:54
  • @JW0914 - Just because Microsoft (who should have) has never provided appropriately-detailed instructions doesn't mean that the detailed instructions don't exist. Even if they don't already exist, if you can "piece them together" from other resources, there's no reason why you shouldn't, then post them as a single document to a site that you have reasonable surety will persist, then link your answer on Stack Exchange to that site (following the above and any other relevant guidelines). SE isn't the authority on how-to; it's a resource like any other resource. Commented Jun 21 at 11:44
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    @JeffZeitlin I don't share that opinion, nor is that how answers are meant to be written per Superuser's own guidelines. Nowhere in there does it echo what you've stated.
    – JW0914
    Commented Jun 21 at 13:21

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