Sometimes a comment may be long enough, sometimes it contains formulas which may be incorrectly displayed or not displayed at all because of wrong number of parentheses... I often need to delete and then copypaste my comments to make necessary corrections.

Is the $5$-minute limit for comment editing reasonable? Why not, say, $10$ or $15$ minutes? An alternative option would be a preview but I think this is much complicated technically.

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    $\begingroup$ The work-around is to use the answer box (or a new answer box) to help preview your comments if you sense they might contain too much (difficult) $\LaTeX$. At the very least you can ensure that the $\LaTeX$ renders somewhat correctly before posting. I do this with virtually all of my comments — including, somewhat sadly, this one. $\endgroup$
    – user642796
    Jun 20, 2013 at 11:09
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    $\begingroup$ @Arthur: Really? You're not sure that \LaTeX will compile correctly? :-) $\endgroup$
    – Asaf Karagila Mod
    Jun 20, 2013 at 11:33
  • $\begingroup$ I have tried to find a similar feature-request at meat.SO - if there is one. I only found this post, it seems (to some extent) relevant: Why is the time limit for editing comments only 5 minutes? $\endgroup$ Jun 20, 2013 at 11:44
  • $\begingroup$ @Asaf: Maybe I'm not certain if I've typed \LaTeX correctly. (Though I do prefer to proofread the rendered output, even if I still miss typos, as well as grammatical and mathematical absurdities from time to time.) $\endgroup$
    – user642796
    Jun 20, 2013 at 11:54
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    $\begingroup$ @Arthur: I see. Well, you do have super diamond powers now, so you can edit your comments indefinitely. $\endgroup$
    – Asaf Karagila Mod
    Jun 20, 2013 at 12:03
  • $\begingroup$ @Asaf, yeah, that probably is the only attractive perk of being a mod, at least for me: the ability to edit comments indefinitely. $\endgroup$ Jun 20, 2013 at 12:19
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    $\begingroup$ @J.M.: what you meant is... muahaha, the ability to rewrite history. $\endgroup$ Jun 20, 2013 at 12:20
  • $\begingroup$ @Willie: I didn't know that you work in the Ministry of Truth! Is Willie a shorthand for Winston? $\endgroup$
    – Asaf Karagila Mod
    Jun 20, 2013 at 12:22
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    $\begingroup$ @Willie, well, it is also a bit nice to be able to edit other people's comments... >:) $\endgroup$ Jun 20, 2013 at 13:01
  • 3
    $\begingroup$ @J.M. I'm very tempted to alter your "a bit" to "very". :-) $\endgroup$
    – user642796
    Jun 20, 2013 at 13:07
  • $\begingroup$ Arthur Fischer can delete things too. He shares a memory hole with Winston Smith. $\endgroup$
    – Jay
    Jun 20, 2013 at 23:08

1 Answer 1


I think a very short period is reasonable.

This is because unlike "posts", we do not keep a publicly accessible (in fact, not even a moderator-accessible) history of comment edits.

5 minutes is already a pretty long time on the internet.

With a longer period I see at least three problems:

  1. Do not cross the streams! The conversation in the comments can get harder to follow, as users re-write their comments rendering other users' responses non-sequitur. In the case of posts the reader can look at edit histories and decipher the progression somewhat. For comments all hope is lost.

  2. Spam spam spam spam! (Remember that edits are not moderator-accessible, unlike deletions!) A user posts something objectionable, and edits it out within 15 minutes. Another user sees it, flags it, and when the hapless moderator wanders by because of the flag, he sees absolutely nothing wrong...

  3. How long is long enough? You suggest 10 or 15. But what is there to say that if the limits were 10 or 15 minutes to start with, you (or someone else) wouldn't have wanted half-an-hour?

As a side-remark: comment preview has been status-declined since time-immemorial, and pretty much all proposals for such have been closed as duplicates, so I am pessimistic on that front.

A few tips and tricks:

  1. Don't put in really long comments. If your comments is getting long and hard to proof-read because of the large number of LaTeX expressions used, consider breaking your comment into several parts and post the parts piecemeal. Shorter comments and LaTeX expressions are easier to proofread, and the five-minute rule becomes more reasonable. (Remember, the five minute rule was originally designed for short, pure text comments on the first SE2.0 websites.)

  2. Preview your LaTeX elsewhere. If you just worry about your LaTeX expressions, you can use anything which supports previewing/compiling LaTeX math expressions to do a preview. This includes the answer-box below the question, the "ask-question" page, our formatting sandbox, numerous online services, and off-line software bundles. For the rest of the formatting issues, the comment boxes uses a simplified markdown syntax, so you can mostly check it with the answer-box.

  3. Considering posting an answer. If you have a lot to say. And they are very pertinent. Maybe consider posting it as an answer? If you don't feel like it is enough of a definite answer, you can always preface it with a disclaimer to this effect. If you don't feel like you deserve credit since the answer is incomplete, you can always mark the answer community wiki.

  • $\begingroup$ I understand your point of view, though (to my taste) it simplifies the life of moderators rather than ordinary users. Concerning concrete time limit - for me $6$ minutes would be better than $5$, $7$ yet more better, and $10$ largely sufficient (but my Latexing is rather quick, maybe somebody not used to it would need more time). Anyhow, $5$ minutes usually means you cannot add any non-banal formula to the comment on the 2nd thought if it wasn't there initially. I find this annoying and contradictory to "avoid long discussions in comments". $\endgroup$ Jun 20, 2013 at 13:07
  • $\begingroup$ @O.L. Admittedly my point 2 simplifies the life of moderators rather than ordinary users. How about points 1 and 3? Anyhow, as I prefaced the post, this is just my personal opinion, feel free to disagree with it! :-) $\endgroup$ Jun 20, 2013 at 14:54

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