I just noticed today that the mini-markdown on some (though strangely not all) of my comments is broken. I know for a fact that when I left them, everything was rendered just fine. In particular, I've noticed the problem occurring with inline hyperlinks and code snippets.

Here are a few examples of where things are broken, with what I see on screen shown below each:

But as I said, this isn't the case for all of my comments. Here are a couple examples that still work:

I can't find a pattern here. I haven't left parentheses in the URLs, it appears I've used proper markdown syntax, and each of the comments used to render just fine. What's going on?

  • The dupe hyperlink should not be broken - either the code generating the comment is broken (not likely, it doesn't look broken) or the markdown mini parser is broken
    – Yi Jiang
    Commented Feb 13, 2011 at 7:04
  • @YiJiang: Yeah, none of them appear that they should be broken. And since all of these comments were correctly-formatted when I left them a day or so ago, I assume the problem is indeed with the parser. Commented Feb 13, 2011 at 7:08
  • Indeed, it seems like all inline links now do not parse any more - even the simplest case like [Google!](http://www.google.com) does not work - Google!
    – Yi Jiang
    Commented Feb 13, 2011 at 7:11
  • Yeah, my mistake - it was the exclamation mark that's causing it to fail
    – Yi Jiang
    Commented Feb 13, 2011 at 7:12
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    Note it seems the leading/trailing spaces checks also apply to names with MathJax text, with later text highlighted, & more links later causing other weird behavior, but it seems to be just a display issue as the links (e.g., showing in the "Linked" section) appear to work properly. I've seen this happening several times, mostly when I vote to close a question as a duplicate & add text to the comment, with the most recent case being with [$(xy + 1)(yz + 1)(zx + 1) $ is a perfect square if and only if each factor is](math.stackexchange.com/q/92270/602049), which needed " $" to be "$". Commented Jul 30, 2022 at 3:26
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1 Answer 1


There is indeed at least one pattern: you have extra leading or trailing spaces in some of them, which are no longer allowed. It's by design because of tricksters who wish to subvert the minimum character comment input.

Beyond that -- bad checkin, I failed to check in complete code. So it's fixed now that all the code is checked in.

  • Perhaps, though that the first one is automatically-generated from voting to close. I didn't edit it to add an extra space. There are also no spaces in the third example; are you no longer allowed to combine hyperlinks with code snippets? (Are any of these "no longer allowed" things documented? I wasn't aware this had changed. The second example indeed appears to have been my clumsy typing.) Commented Feb 13, 2011 at 7:20
  • Thanks for looking into that so promptly! Apparently mistakes like incomplete check-ins can happen to even the best of developers. Commented Feb 13, 2011 at 7:51
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    It used to be necessary to have leading and trailing spaces for italic link-text… for instance His Girl Friday used to not become italicised (and still doesn't, as you can see). I've several times had to edit a link which did not have spaces, and add spaces so that it works correctly… now the links are broken. Why this change? Commented Feb 13, 2011 at 8:11
  • Hmmmm, @ShreevatsaR, I am not sure one can claim workarounds of edge cases to become broken? In other words: why use a workaround to get italic hyperlinks? That's asking for trouble, if you'd ask me. (And, just in case it's only for nice formatting, and not for some emphasis, then I'd also like people to adhere to whatever formatting a site has decided on.)
    – Arjan
    Commented Feb 13, 2011 at 11:34
  • @Arjan: Er… I don't understand your comment. Are you saying that there was something wrong with leaving spaces in link text? It was never specified anywhere, and the software led the users (and I'm not alone) to this decision. And are you saying there's something wrong with having italics in comments? The software, by supporting italics, again led users who care about right formatting to use it. :-) The site had not (and has not) decided anywhere that italics are wrong. Anyway, the point is that links that used to work are suddenly broken and ugly, and something ought to be done about it. Commented Feb 13, 2011 at 11:44
  • @ShreevatsaR, if I understand correctly then you were not leaving spaces, but adding spaces to get the expected formatting. So you were working around a bug or something that might even be by design? And surely there's nothing wrong with italics in general. But if you were just using it to get some nice looking formatting on some specific site (the regular web version of SO), then I'm just saying: remember things might render different in other usage (mobile, screen readers, API, datadump) or future versions. Specific formatting for the looks only might fail elsewhere.
    – Arjan
    Commented Feb 13, 2011 at 11:59
  • (By the way, @ShreevatsaR, my concerns about formatting especially apply to (ab)using headings et al, to get a bigger font. Or using <small> for footnotes. But I certainly have done the latter myself too...)
    – Arjan
    Commented Feb 13, 2011 at 12:09
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    @Arjan: All that doesn't matter; what matters is that things that were links are now broken, and we can't fix them. :-) I'm not claiming I want to continue using spaces and have it work; only that some way be found of fixing them (or this change be undone, if there's no rationale behind it, but knowing Mr. Atwood's autocratic ways, that's unlikely to happen). Commented Feb 13, 2011 at 14:59
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    Wouldn't "not counting spaces for the minimum check" be a much more simpler solution than "breaking links that have spaces" ? (I am guessing that you wanted to prevent people posting a single word link/comment) Commented Oct 29, 2013 at 12:22

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