This is a minor frustration, but I have a comment that I put italics and bold into (using asterisks.) Now I know I just just be happy that I could do it at all, but it seems to me that those should not count toward my comment char limit.

  • With so many repeated paths, that comment could easily have been shortened. You also could have split it into two comments.
    – Jon Seigel
    Jun 8, 2010 at 20:33
  • 18
    Much more of an impact are links; the whole URL and brackets/parentheses count towards the limit Jun 8, 2010 at 20:43

7 Answers 7


Six hundred characters isn't enough to include your content plus formatting? That Should Be Enough For Anyone™.

That particular comment could be done as an update to the question, where it would be much more readable. View source to steal:

Update: Regarding pm.h as ctacke points out, I must have something funny going on. I have 5 versions of pm.h on my machine and none of them have POWER_STATE_BACKLIGHTON in them. I am using VS 2008. They are located at:

  • C:\Program Files\Windows Mobile 5.0 SDK R2\PocketPC\Include\Armv4i
  • C:\Program Files\Windows Mobile 5.0 SDK R2\Smartphone\Include\Armv4i
  • C:\Program Files\Microsoft Visual Studio 9.0\SmartDevices\SDK\PocketPC2003\Include
  • C:\Program Files\Microsoft Visual Studio 9.0\SmartDevices\SDK\Smartphone2003\Include
  • C:\Program Files\Windows CE Tools\wce500\Windows Mobile 5.0 Pocket PC SDK\Include\Armv4i
  • Though those sentences could be better phrased; I paid attention to the formatting and pretty much ignored the content of the SO question... ;)
    – Gnome
    Jun 8, 2010 at 21:19
  • I wish I could format the spacing in my comments, but until this is done (never) I think you have the best solution.
    – Vaccano
    Jun 8, 2010 at 22:51
  • 5
    Not if you're using links, it's not! Jun 14, 2012 at 14:36
  • 2
    It's not enough: I often have to remove (very handy) links to stay under the limit.
    – Bohemian
    Dec 5, 2021 at 23:53
  • Why not simply stick to the markdown result length as the length that counts? Jan 8, 2022 at 13:52

We need the formatting chars to count so that we can put in comments of less than 15 chars. Please don't blow it for us.

  • 11
    – mmyers
    Jun 8, 2010 at 20:42
  • I used to use ` `, but they fixed that one :( Jun 8, 2010 at 20:43
  • 2
    See, @Chacha's comment shows up as a big blank area. Mine doesn't show anything at all.
    – mmyers
    Jun 8, 2010 at 20:53
  • @mmyers: Interesting, they appear identical on Chrome 6.0.408.1. What are you using?
    – Gnome
    Jun 8, 2010 at 20:57
  • I see the blank space in IE8. Jun 8, 2010 at 21:03
  • I have IE7 here at work. I'll check on Opera when I get home. @The
    – mmyers
    Jun 8, 2010 at 21:12
  • IE8 at the office, and Firefox 3.summat here render nothing for mmyers, and a blank area for Chacha.
    – Grace Note StaffMod
    Jun 8, 2010 at 22:53
  • Opera 10.53 also shows blank for Chacha. @cco @The
    – mmyers
    Jun 8, 2010 at 23:39
  • Safari 5 doesen't even show a space - just the "–".
    – Emil
    Jun 12, 2010 at 22:03
  • Upvote for the humor, if it is :))). Jan 8, 2022 at 13:51

Links are my biggest problem, and the one least under my control. If a URL has a long link none of the options are ideal...

  1. Don't link to it, reducing the utility of the comment.
  2. Obsessively trim the grammar to get more space, which is no fun & can garble meaning.
  3. Use a URL shortener, risking it becoming obsolete.
  4. Trim that whole section of the comment, losing content.

Assuming the purpose of the comment character limit is to discourage long discussions in comments (and encourage you to make them answers), it seems the limit should be more concerned with the information density of the comment rather than its raw character count. Regardless of the technical limitations, it would be useful to discuss this in principle.


Since Don't make URLs and title attributes count towards comment character limits has been marked a duplicate of this question here, please keep link target URLs in mind when you think about “formatting”. For example (constructed but similar to real-life situations I encountered):

You can use a SaxSource constructed from an InputSource if you want to transform a SAX event stream.

is too long by 10 characters. Since I'm very much of the opinion that adding detailed links to all the pieces of documentation that you refer to makes not only questions and answers but also comments more useful and valuable, I think doing so should be encouraged. Having to delete links later on because the comments turns out to be too long is rather encouraging me to leave them out in the first place, which I consider harmful. So while I don't have such a strong opinion on other formatting, I'd very much like to at least discount link target URLs since those can easily dwarf an otherwise really short comment.


In a perfect world... yeah, I agree.

In this one though, that sounds like the sort of thing that would be rather problematic to implement. Either write shorter comments, or push for a larger character limit...

  • 3
    What about links? They take up a large chunk of the charlimit. Though its not too pressing, when a bunch of links kills my charlimit, I use multiple comments :) Jun 14, 2012 at 15:07
  • 2
    I don't see how it would be "problematic" to implement. it is totally solvable.
    – vsync
    Apr 22, 2020 at 10:13
  • 1
    @vsync probably right, just increase max size but still check 600 against the markdown result instead. Reading the markdown result as new text should be possible, you see that when you copy and paste comment text in a simple editor. Jan 8, 2022 at 13:50

How many formatting character do you propose to use out of 600ish in you answer, man?

I mean, I routinely use 4--8 in a long comment, but that is of close order 1%.

Surely you can tighten up you prose enough to make that big a difference, and if you can't you're trying to cram too much into a comment.

  • 1
    Why not simply stick to the markdown result length as the length that counts? Jan 8, 2022 at 13:52

I suggest adding an "off topic" button next to each answer/question which will open a different chat UI where people are free to write whatever, when discussing things which should not be written as comments, but long internal debates over something.

Comments should stay short, because they are meant to be helpful to readers and not be used for long debates

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