I don't think I'm going any more crazy than normal, but I'm surprised I can't see any other meta mention so far. This started happening recently on at least SO and ubuntu.SE, and occurs in at least IE and Firefox. So I'm guessing it's a deliberate feature not [bug]. But I'm not keen.

It's not standard in any browser for a <textarea> to submit when Enter is pressed; the behaviour to me seems spooky and undesirable. I've already accidentally-commented more than once and had to delete the comment and drag the text back into editing.

(I realise you can't actually have a newline in a comment, but I've often used newlines to separate thoughts I'm editing together into a comment, or maybe bits to overflow into a subsequent comment. I don't really want to have to break out the text editor to get this ability.)

May I have my Enter key back please Sir?

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    That was my feature request. Sorry for screwing with your head. But the new functionality makes more sense to me. – jjnguy Sep 7 '10 at 1:26
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    you can haz your ENTER key back, so long as it arrives with its friend the SHIFT key! – Jeff Atwood Sep 7 '10 at 7:41
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    [status-bydesign] – Benjol Sep 7 '10 at 8:41
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    The problem with the new behavior is that people who have a good habit of formatting their text, for example in forums that do keep paragraph break for readability, are punished by submitting an unfinished comment. Couple that with the fact that you have a three strikes and out limit on tries and it only takes two good habits to not be allowed to finish editing a comment. Two constructive suggestions: make it an option. It's on the user side of things. 2: let people type paragraphs. – Henrik Erlandsson Sep 9 '10 at 6:44
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    I was about to ask the same question before a search brought me here. I've hit enter by mistake even after figuring out that it submitted the comment. Pure force of habit. I can live without carriage returns, but would prefer the Enter key not to submit the comment. Clicking on Add Comment now. – curt Sep 13 '10 at 16:21
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    all the time, IM features and social stuff and direct messaging and whatnot was [status-declined], but now the most annoying beature (=bad/bug feature) of all is implemented :( – Tobias Kienzler Oct 5 '10 at 7:20
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    @Benjol - It may be status by design, but it's a horribly broken design, pleez fix!!! – Brian Knoblauch Oct 22 '10 at 13:00
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    One problem I've been encountering is, I'll start writing a comment, go look something else up, and a stray enter will cause my comment to be submitted without me even – Joey Adams Nov 15 '10 at 23:45
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    +1 This is truly horrible behaviour for a multi-line (at least multi-line-looking, even if the paragraphs are all merged) text area. – Legooolas Feb 1 '11 at 12:00
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    I joined meta.stackoverflow specifically so I can vote in some way to make this feature die. This seems to be some new trend in UI, as Facebook has recently done the same thing, and I don't know anyone who likes it... somehow it makes sense to engineers who are for some reason always looking for keyboard shortcuts maybe. I don't know. Please get rid of it. It's easy enough to [tab] over to the "Add Comment" button, and, as posted below, this behaviour totally screws up those of us who use IMEs. This "feature" is horrific. – Questioner Jun 3 '11 at 6:23
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    @Lance - why does this need a bounty? Hitting enter for comments at this point is, I think, natural for most users, and there's a workaround for the few that don't like it. – Adam Rackis Apr 4 '13 at 21:01
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    @AdamRackis, I realize that most users are now used to the bad UI, but we should do things better, not worse. I don't really expect results, but hey, it's not status-declined yet. Deceze's answer really points out the problems. – Lance Roberts Apr 4 '13 at 21:10
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    Enter is a form finalization key. If some user has a problem with the same, I would suggest they remap the enter key to result in shift-enter. Most humans anticipate enter completing an entry. – RobotHumans Apr 4 '13 at 21:32
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    @CallmeV, no, most users expect Enter to take you to a newline. – Lance Roberts Apr 5 '13 at 7:13

14 Answers 14


A huge problem that probably very few have noticed so far:
This new behavior completely screws people using IMEs.
I-what you ask? Input Method Editors for writing complex languages.

For example, to input "入力" I have to type n-y-u-u-r-y-o-k-u-[space]-[enter]. The last enter, which is necessary to finish the input of the word, submits the comment. In my experience, "IME Enters" are impossible to filter out in Javascript, and different IMEs behave differently in different browsers to begin with. And even if it was possible, depending on the conversion I may have to hit enter multiple times. It happens all the time that I accidentally hit enter one more time than I need to, thereby submitting the comment. That's an annoyance in normal forms already, but at least the browser correctly distinguishes between an enter to end the conversion and an enter outside of conversion mode, something Javascript is completely ignorant about.

It's not a terrible problem yet, but as the StackEngine expands to cover sites in foreign languages, it will become a serious problem. I often switch to my Japanese IME to insert special characters, e.g. it can quickly convert "->" to "→". The new behavior completely broke that. Please get rid of it.

  • +1 ouch. I didn't consider the IME issue, but this is indeed problematic for every input that tries to catch keypresses and attach special handling. – bobince Sep 21 '10 at 21:52
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    +1: Indeed, I use IME a lot even in English text to enter special characters and letters with accents. On Stack Overflow, I have to go to a text editor to enter special characters and copy-and-paste it. Honestly, I am surprised that anyone has mentioned this! – Tsuyoshi Ito Oct 9 '10 at 22:26
  • does SHIFT+ENTER work for this? – Jeff Atwood Oct 19 '10 at 3:31
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    @jeff: No, the IME ignores Shift+Enter (at least for the Microsoft Japanese IME on Windows 7). – kennytm Oct 19 '10 at 7:37
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    @Jeff: Even then, why should someone known to a certain interface of a specific IME have to learn new behaviour to type Shift+Enter for SO/SE sites? – Marcel Korpel Nov 19 '10 at 0:31
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    I really liked the Enter-submits-comments functionality until I read this answer. +1 to this, -1 to my (previously) beloved functionality. – Pops Feb 25 '11 at 22:54
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    This is starting to become a bigger issue now that Japanese is in beta. See meta.japanese.stackexchange.com/questions/37/… – Troyen Jun 2 '11 at 4:38
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    Can not agree more. That this works for some on Windows is moot. IME behaviour varies a lot between versions and user preferences, even within Windows. More to the point, though, how IMEs behave is entirely beyond the control of this site or the users, so to rely on them to work around this issue is unworkable. Please kill this feature. If you don't want to use your mouse to enter in a comment or whatever, just hit [tab] to go to the "Add Comment" button. It's standard behaviour in web sites, and just as easy without messing with those of us using IMEs. – Questioner Jun 3 '11 at 6:26
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    Although this is not a IME issue I have the same problem with Firefox's spell checker. I move to the word and hit [menu], select the correct spelling with the arrow key and [enter]. Then the comment is submitted. It is annoying like hell when I must actually use my mouse... – Sean Farrell Jun 12 '12 at 13:55
  • @DaveMG on an android tablet, there is no mouse or tab key. – o̊ǝʇ̲ ɐW⃗ Apr 4 '13 at 22:23
  • 100%賛成です。機能を直すようによろしくお願いします。(this post was submitted 7 times in typing, just for your reference, once for every combination of characters. Really really really really annoying for characters like ♪ that I use the Japanese IME for) – jmac Dec 19 '13 at 23:36
  • @jmac and anyone else using an IME: could some of you please test the devel version (v1.3.x) of SOUP and tell me if my fix for this related bug fixes this one too? I'd test it myself, but I don't normally use an IME, and I don't really have a very good idea how they should behave in the first place. – Ilmari Karonen Jan 21 '14 at 21:51
  • @Ilmari, I have no idea how to do that. I am not techno-proficient to the level of actual developers. If you toss up an explanation somewhere I will do my best to test it. – jmac Jan 21 '14 at 23:09
  • @jmac: It depends on your browser. Do these instructions help? If you're using Firefox or Chrome, the easiest way is to first install either GreaseMonkey (for Firefox) or TamperMonkey (for Chrome) and then click the first link in my comment above. – Ilmari Karonen Jan 21 '14 at 23:18
  • @Ilmari, yes, thanks. Though I just tested this issue yesterday and didn't get the same behavior on Chrome or Firefox, so I don't know what's going on. I'll test it on Mac later. If I can't reproduce it now, testing it on a different version of SO wouldn't be of much use. – jmac Jan 21 '14 at 23:23

This goes against the Principle Of Least surprise.

Can anyone point to another textarea in the wild in which hitting Enter has the same effect?!

Much later: so much for user input...

  • <input type="text" /> – alexanderpas Dec 8 '10 at 1:02
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    @Alexander, <input type="text" /> is not a textarea. – Arjan Dec 8 '10 at 8:39
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    Facebook Messages. – Yahel Dec 9 '10 at 20:48
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    Facebook messages are not a good example to follow, imho. – Legooolas Feb 1 '11 at 12:01
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    I found one in Windows! The user selector for security settings. Looks like a multi-line text box, but pressing Enter (eg to try to add multiple users) closes the dialogue. Infuriating! – bobince Feb 5 '11 at 11:34
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    Lots of chat apps do this. Users are always welcome to provide their input. But, since a bunch of other users like this feature, the team has chosen to keep it. – jjnguy Feb 25 '11 at 21:24
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    @jjnguy, presumably people who do not need input methods... – Mariano Suárez-Álvarez Feb 27 '11 at 0:53
  • facebook recently copied stackoverflow's move. I dislike it on facebook more than here though – Earlz Mar 18 '11 at 2:15
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    @Earlz, Facebook has one of the least well-though through UIs in the history of the internet... I am not surprised. – Mariano Suárez-Álvarez Mar 18 '11 at 2:18
  • @Mariano Eh, it's better than Myspace and Geocities. At least they don't allow user HTML :D. But really I've seen quite a few things that after a month or two of being something "different" about Stackoverflow, seeing it get added to Facebook. – Earlz Mar 18 '11 at 2:23
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    Facebook behaviour is even worse than Stack Overflow because on Facebook they took away the "send" button meaning that the enter button is the only option for submitting comments. I don't know anyone on Facebook who wasn't confused and displeased by the change. At best, people adapted, and what did they benefit from it? Nothing. They're lives are absolutely no easier for having suffered the confusion of change. – Questioner Jun 3 '11 at 6:32
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    in practice, I find that "the principle of least surprise" means "the principle of whatever I happen to find surprising". – Jeff Atwood Jun 16 '12 at 8:07
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    @​Jef​fAtwood In those cases, the principle of least surprise is often bowing to the principle of least incompatibility (often with previous versions of the software). The enter-submits system is not really something that you can win, since there exist systems that do both. – wizzwizz4 Feb 19 '17 at 19:10

I would say that most people who know how the commenting system works don't use new lines in the way you use them, and that's why there aren't any threads.


  • A lot of new or inexperienced people will mistakenly post their incomplete comment
  • It goes against what the user expects: if the input has more than one line, then I can press Enter to go to the next line.

So I say change it back, or it will be a major usability problem.

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    Update on the above, Shift+Enter now works, I'll see how it works then decide if a user script override is still necessary :) – Nick Craver ModStaff Sep 8 '10 at 0:10
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    +1 Major usability problem indeed! – deceze Sep 13 '10 at 5:19
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    I'd say to completely satisfy principal of least surprise, the enter key should just be filtered out. This makes it so a user will press enter a few times and decide "oh, guess I can't put in a new paragraph" and move on with their life. shift-enter is special though and in my opinion should work in all user interfaces – Earlz Mar 18 '11 at 2:16

Please do something about this! As a result of this behaviour I just noticed I'm wary to hit Enter even in answers, or even in textareas outside Stack Exchange, and have resorted to either hitting Shift-Enter every time or editing outside the browser and pasting it in. Why is it still considered a good idea to have made comments so radically different from answers and from every textarea on the internet?

It's a huge usability problem to have answers and comments work so differently, and an utter waste to make one keystroke mildly easier (the final submit at the end of the answer) at the cost of making us hit Shift-Enter for all the times we temporarily want a newline while writing the comment.

  • "I just noticed I'm wary to hit Enter even in answers, or even in textareas outside Stack Exchange" -> You know, it only does this for comment boxes...On SE sites. – jjnguy Sep 21 '10 at 3:45
  • This new feature does solve the problem where users type enter and submit a comment with new lines, and they fail to render. – jjnguy Sep 21 '10 at 3:48
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    @jinguy: Wrt to your first comment, that's my point exactly: Stack Exchange has introduced a stupid behaviour which, among all the textareas everywhere on the internet, works only on comment boxes on SE sites, causing much pain and confusion in users' habits. The first principle of doctors equally applies to UI design: first do no harm. – ShreevatsaR Sep 21 '10 at 5:18
  • I have the same issue. – Tsuyoshi Ito Oct 9 '10 at 22:43

I write this with great trepidation, not merely because of beating a horse that may be well and truly dead, but also because the solution seems so glaringly obvious that I feel I must certainly be missing something fundamental.

Nevertheless, here is an alternative suggestion that I haven't seen mentioned here or in the other threads. The two apparently conflicting requirements, as far as I can tell, are:

  1. Newlines should not be allowed when comments are being composed, because they are not allowed when comments are rendered.

  2. Pressing Enter should not submit a comment, since that is the standard behaviour of textareas on the web, and violating that expectation frustrates many users.

Solution: Pressing Enter should not insert a newline, nor should it submit the comment; it should simply do nothing. You must already be trapping the Enter key event in order to trigger the submit action; why not change it to prevent a newline from being added, and then leave the comment alone?

I await your downvotes.

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    congratulations, you have satisfied neither party in this debate! :) – Jeff Atwood Dec 8 '10 at 7:06
  • @Jeff: In that case, either I have misunderstood what both parties have said they want, or both parties want something other than what they say they want. – user152819 Dec 8 '10 at 7:11
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    Doing absolutely nothing when the user expects something is generally the worst idea, so there would need to be some sort of feedback (even if just a message below the box). Putting that aside for the moment, however...I don't know what your personal position on this issue is, but assuming that you disagree with the current behaviour, could you explain why one would instinctively hit the Enter key so often? I see the claim that this functionality is unexpected, but I'm still confused as to why the key is being pressed at all for reasons other than submission, given the nature of comments. – Tim Stone Dec 8 '10 at 7:12
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    Yes, I was thinking of a non-interrupting message to the effect that "Multiple lines are not allowed in comments". Anyway: it's a multi-line text box. It has a clear affordance for hitting Enter and creating a new line. Why wouldn't you expect people to try and hit Enter? I don't do it, but the current behaviour is clearly annoying some users. Anyway, I don't have a dog in this fight; I just thought I saw an easy solution, but if it's no good for anybody, I'll be off. Carry on. – user152819 Dec 8 '10 at 7:25
  • @Tim Stone: Sorry, my previous comment was a response to you, but I forgot to notify you. @Jeff: I should ask, well, what would it take to satisfy your party? What are your actual requirements for this feature? I hope your only requirement isn't "Pressing Enter should submit the comment", but if so I'd like to know about it. (Also, does putting @user in the middle of a comment notify the user, or does it only work in the beginning? Is this documented somewhere?) – user152819 Dec 8 '10 at 7:38
  • @Rahul No problem. With respect to your comment notification question, your current comment will have only notified myself, for the reasons detailed in this explanation of the feature. – Tim Stone Dec 8 '10 at 7:53
  • Ah, I see. @Jeff: Please see my above comment. – user152819 Dec 8 '10 at 14:36
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    "why the key is being pressed at all for reasons other than submission" -- accidentally striking the Enter key, i.e., for no reason. Given the potential for inadvertent, negative or flame-inspiring material to be blurted in this way, and for out-of-sequence effects (the awkward back-and-forth replies to comments being edited after a mis-post, with handshaking around the various edits and replies, references to vanished text left permanently in the comments, etc) accidental posting is obviously much more consequential than the older behavior of requiring one SUBMIT COMMENT mouse click. – T.. Dec 9 '10 at 20:03
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    @Tim: Doing nothing is better than doing something other than what the user expects, and may be frustrating (needs work to fix) and embarrassing (accidental comment), to boot. As for why one would hit Enter, it's either because one is used from ancient times to hitting Enter after a fixed line width is reached (see old email users and Usenet posters do this), or because, one is editing what is typed (say, to get below the character limit), and it's convenient to just move some words out of the way temporarily. – ShreevatsaR Dec 24 '10 at 8:05
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    @Rahul: It could insert a space instead of doing nothing, so that it still represents some whitespace. – Donal Fellows Feb 15 '11 at 9:08

I constantly mistakenly enter comments before I'm done with them due to enter doing the completely unexpected action of submitting (versus newline). VERY annoying. I hate non-intuitive user interface functions like that! Compounded by the fact that you can't go back and edit the comment that just accidently went in!

Stop the insanity! :-)

  • Even though you could previously enter newlines into comments they weren't displayed. You can use "shift"+"enter" to create a new line (I just did), but you can't tell. – ChrisF Mod Oct 22 '10 at 13:01
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    you should be able to edit the comment - there's an edit link (I think you have a few minutes in which you can edit it). – Benjol Oct 22 '10 at 13:23

Not my change, but as it happens I'm hugely in favour of the new behaviour:

  • carriage returns aren't rendered, so why have them? (you can still shift-enter if you must, though)
  • maybe I've spent too much time in chat, but I now expect enter to submit comments (which feel very similar to chat)

Several times each day I would press enter to try to submit a comment, and then sit there feeling stupid while it did nothing.

(I'm not sure I'll convince them to add "up" for edit, though...)

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    shift-enter change is new though; this wasn't allowed originally (a bit of an accidental bug) – Jeff Atwood Sep 7 '10 at 7:40
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    I'd imagine that comments would seem less similar to chat than to answers on this very website, as well as nearly every textarea on the internet. I often used to hit enter to move sentences out of the way while I rearrange my thoughts; I'm forced to do all this in a separate editor before submitting comments now. – ShreevatsaR Sep 9 '10 at 11:24
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    but what about these bugs caused by that? – Tobias Kienzler Oct 11 '10 at 13:39

If you find this behavior inconvenient, I recommend enabling the below GreaseMonkey script.

Disable enter for submitting comments

The link contains screenshots and easy step-by-step instructions.

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    +1, THANK YOU! While I continue to be mystified by your refusal to listen to users or sense about this design or explain why it exists, and worried about what such behaviour portends for the future for Stack Exchange, this workaround makes life so much better that I'll stop bothering you for now. Thanks again; the StackExchange sites just got a lot more usable! (I still hit Enter in answers only very gingerly; it will be a while before they become comfortable. :-)) – ShreevatsaR Dec 24 '10 at 7:21
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    I'm saved. Thank you. I'm just a new user at SO and was in so much shock at the Enter behavior for an otherwise very well done site that I had spend 30 minutes finding out why. I would find I entered the comment and then had to rush finishing the edit of it before the 5 minutes finished, often not making it in time. It is things like this that makes me understand why my mother can't set the time on her clock radio. – jontyc Apr 4 '11 at 3:41
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    I disagree with this answer it seems to me that there is plenty of support for eliminating this terrible behavior. – Mark Finch Jun 17 '12 at 4:54

This is a "by design" change that went live yesterday.

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    Saying that it's "by design" is begging the question; it's hardly an explanation. :-) Why is it this way, and can we please make it sane again? – ShreevatsaR Sep 21 '10 at 9:05
  • @downvoters My answer was just confirming that the change was deliberate and not a bug. I didn't express any opinion either way! – Martin Smith Nov 21 '10 at 20:04
  • because an comment is more like an <input type="text" /> and less like a <textarea> – alexanderpas Dec 8 '10 at 1:04

This is a difficult problem and I can understand arguments of both sides. So, if there is no solution where everyone is happy with, why not having it configurable?

Submit on enter

Depending on the state of the "Submit on enter" checkbox, the text is submitted or not when pressing enter.

The last state of it after posting a comment could be saved so that it stays the same the next time, and it can be changed always when needed.

  • I think your suggestion should be considered. – Malky.Kid Nov 25 '13 at 10:26

I was fine with pressing TAB, ENTER before.

It seems kind of odd that this time-saving feature is in place, what with all the timer locks


I notice that similar functionality has appeared on facebook with return submitting comments rather than putting in linebreaks and is causing something of an uproar. In my opinion the new functionality is wrong on facebook and wrong on stackexchange too.


And a question about this on ux.stackexchange: Enter to submit comments on Facebook and StackExchange

  • +1, I just submitted a dupe of this answer, not realizing that it was here. – Pops Mar 18 '11 at 2:11

Why not have comment-merging in addition to this feature? If a new comment is submitted from the same user within the edit-window time and if no-one else commented yet, simply merge it with the previous comment. (Probably also check that the total length is below the limit as well, and make it a new comment if too long.)

I think that that's what happens on chat (don't spend much time there). That way both "parties" get what they want. Those who inadvertently hit return mid-comment only write one comment whilst those who like to submit a comment when they hit return get what they want too.

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    That might result in odd ordering of comments when responding to a new comment while the edit window of the previous comment has not passed yet? And sometimes (truly sometimes) multiple comments are needed if the comments are too long? – Arjan Dec 9 '10 at 23:19
  • @Arjan: (I wrote a reply earlier today but the comment Monster ate it and it doesn't seem to have reappeared). Obviously, comments would only get merged if they were adjacent (that deals with your first point) and if the total length was under the limit (that deals with your second). – Andrew Stacey Dec 10 '10 at 19:17
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    Okay, I merged that into your answer. Other issues: comment @-replies currently only work for the very first @-match, so folks might want to enter multiple comments within the 5 minute grace period. (But that @-reply limitation is not too obvious, so it might be great if that could be changed.) And: one can currently not comment twice within 15 seconds, so that would need adjustments too. – Arjan Dec 10 '10 at 19:27
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    @Arjan: thanks. (To be clear: that was what I'd meant it to say from the start.) There are always going to be "but I can't do X"s for any system. I was just a bit surprised that this hadn't been suggested before so thought I'd suggest it. I don't tend to use comments much, I find them very annoying, so I'll leave the question of whether or not this is a good idea to those who have the responsibility. After all, that's what they're paid for, isn't it? (joke) – Andrew Stacey Dec 10 '10 at 20:08

I'm a heavy keyboard user; I avoid the mouse as much as possible. I also typo a lot, and Firefox is kind enough to help me catch misspelled words (like "mispelled"). When that happens, I arrow over to the offending word and push the Menu key. Firefox gives me a nice little list of suggested edits, and I use the arrow keys to highlight. When I press Enter, my comment gets submitted. As a result, I've had to start using the mouse for my spell check corrections. Yes, this is only a minor inconvenience, but I, too, would prefer that the Enter key did not submit my comment. I can Tab over to the button to submit.

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