In this stackapps answer there is a fairly long comment thread. As you read the comments you find that some of them don't make sense.

When you finally get to the bottom, you notice that you missed 16 comments.

I propose that you add the same 'add / show 16 more comments' button to the top of a list of comments. Or, at least, mention at the top that there are hidden comments before a user starts reading the thread.

Alternately, you could add the option to automatically show all comments by default.

Another good example are the comments on this post: Q&A sites wrongfully discourage people from thinking for themselves with respect to Q&A sites

Try reading the comment thread. You will find yourself getting lost, then you will notice that there were 10 hidden comments that could have made reading the thread much easier.

  • 14
    Or add a setting to automatically show all comments.
    – Gelatin
    Jun 25, 2010 at 15:12
  • 10
    Yes, I'd rather have a setting to always show the comments. I always click the show more button and I'm tired of having to do that all the time.
    – siride
    Jul 29, 2010 at 17:05
  • Yes, please do this.
    – Cititzen
    Apr 10, 2015 at 1:12

3 Answers 3


We automatically bump the threshold of comments visible on metas; not sure if you noticed that.

Beyond that this is by design, as we explicitly suppress too much discussion.

  • 16
    I was about to ask this same question but noticed this. You don't address the option of moving "Show all comments" to the top of the list. I like the current system but would like to be able to expand the comments first so I can see them in chronological order.
    – JNK
    Jul 1, 2011 at 14:44
  • 11
    This answer basically says "We wish X scenario that sometimes happens didn't happen, so let's not fix the bad user experience when it does happen, even though it's easy". It's illogical. When a comment thread has gone large, no-one benefits from pretending it hasn't until after a user has read disconnected, non-sensical comments. How do we get this reconsidered? Dec 5, 2015 at 22:08
  • 4
    This is the only truly really bad feature of SE
    – Cititzen
    Feb 2, 2016 at 6:00
  • @Cititzen It's one of many.
    – endolith
    Apr 11, 2018 at 14:26

Like others responding here, I finally found this annoying enough that I came here to create a feature request, and on checking, turned up this existing (declined???) one.

Friends, this is an issue not of style but of communication and comprehension. We are dealing here with concepts including parsing, semantics, working memory and so forth. And one of the most basic principles relating to parsing (in the linquistic rather than computational sense) has to do with order of presentation: do not present a collection of items (words in a sentence etc) in a sequence that initially provides one understanding but then, on reaching later items/words, reveals that the the initial understanding was incorrect, forcing a re-think/re-parse from the start of the collection/sentence.

this is by design, as we explicitly suppress too much discussion.

Silently suppressing "too much" information, divulging the fact only after the entire collection has been read, and then inserting the missing bits all over the place within that collection, is not only fantastically annoying, but also fails at the most fundamental level to take any account of these basic matters of communication and comprehension.

By the time the reader is informed that Big Brother has saved them from exposure to "too much" discussion, they have built up a picture in working memory, on which is based their understanding of the discussion. To put it mildly: it is not helpful to be told at this point that parts were missing.

I notice this proposal currently bears a "rejected" tag. I look at the weight of evidence on this page for support of the proposal (at the time of writing, a positive score of 62 in support, and a negative score of -7 for the answer flatly stating that it is by design). I wonder if the voice of the community is reflected in the "rejected" tag. I wonder if the discussion is permitted to continue, and the community's voice to be turned into action in the form of an "accepted" outcome. (Or would this constitute "too much discussion"? I sincerely hope not.)

As others have said, regardless of the finer details of the UI design, the crucial things we need to put in place are a) something to give the reader awareness of any suppression BEFORE they start to read the comments, and b) a control at the same location for the reader to toggle the suppression on and off. A "nice to have" would be to also have a way for the reader to toggle their preferred default suppression on and off.


I was going to ask for something almost exactly the same, so as not to make a duplicate request there's a small improvement. The title of my feature request would have been: Display at the top of long/collapsed comment blocks: "There are a total of X comments | show Y hidden comments".

Unupvoted comments auto-collapse after anywhere from 2 to 500 answers are offered to a question, depending on which site. Sites where the value was not adjusted default to 30. The exact number of comments displayed varies site by site but once you get to the bottom it says:

Add a comment | show X more comments

My complaint is that having the interest, and taken the time, to read the comments the newest ones are not displayed until you request them. Often when you hit show X more comments there are collapsed comments that appear above where you are, sometimes this necessitates rereading all the comments.

My suggestion is:

  • If there are more than a certain number of comments or collapsed-inline (not at the bottom) comments then at the top of the comment block have this line:

There are a total of X comments | show Y hidden comments

  • Leave the bottom of the comment block as it is now:

Add a comment | show X more comments

This allows you to see upfront if there are more than a certain number of comments and if there are hidden comments that you might want to expand prior to reading the comments. This lets you make a move informed decision about the time invested and if you want to expand the comments before you start reading them.

Sometimes useful replies to a previous comments don't get an upvote but are important to the conversation, and an answer you might provide after carefully reviewing the other answers and comments.

It is annoying to read a long string of comments only to discover the 'hidden comments' message and upon pressing it a dozen more comments automagically appear interspersed with comments you've already read.

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