# Is it possible to make the SE engine to ignore some characters in the character count of comments?

Comments are limited to 600 characters, which I believe is done so that comments are actually comments, instead of lengthy discussions or answers to the question in the post.

While this is obviously useful, I believe certain characters should not be counted in the 600 limit, because 1) they are not actually displayed (so counting them is irrelevant for the purpose of the char-limit) and 2) because these chars are used to make a more readable comment. Let me make my point clear with some examples.

• Some characters, such as $, *, **, \text, \frac, \mathbb are not actually displayed, but they are useful for emphasis/nice formatting. • Some commands, such as , \leftrightarrow, \left( are displayed, but when rendered the display is way shorter that the char-count. My point is: sometimes, when I see that I'm getting close to the char-limit, the only way to fit my comment is to delete some commands, which don't actually make my comment longer (when rendered), but they do make it more readable. For example, instead of writing \left(\frac{\mathrm df}{\mathrm dx}\right) I would end up writing (df/dx). When rendered, both are equally long, which mean they are equivalent length-wise. But the first option, despite having a higher char-count, is (IMHO) much more readable and nice-looking than the first one. In conclusion: the character limitation, while very necessary, can be counter-productive in some cases. I believe it could be useful to include certain exceptions to the character-count of comments: the examples above, as well as the \ in every math command, \!, \_, (\+white space), \mathcal, ^, _, {}, \overline, etc. (Note that this is my first Meta post: any suggestion is highly appreciated) • I understand your frustration (this also applies to urls in links), but you should be prepared for a response of "comments are more than long enough; if you need more, you should be writing a full answer or using chat." – user10851 Jan 15 '16 at 23:29 • Tangentially, I'll note that one should not be using set-apart equations $$...$$ in comments (they make the overall page difficult to read), and you shouldn't be using any vertical stacking or resized delimiters in inline math in any environment. That is, there really is no reason for \left, \right, \frac, or \limits in comments. – user10851 Jan 15 '16 at 23:31 ## 2 Answers If you're running into length problems because of MathJax then you should probably be posting an answer instead, so I don't find this a compelling argument. However it does annoy me that when I post links in comments the link URL is counted in the comment length. To this extent I agree with AFT's post. • I know I tend to post comments when I should post an answer (I've been trying not to lately). But my point is that char-counting $ or * doesn't serve to the purpose of writing shorter comments: if I omit these characters, the comment will be just as long but less comprehensible. Therefore, counting them is counter-productive. If someone post an answer in the comment section, it usually gets told off or deleted. This is the correct way of avoiding this kind of behavior. But char-counting * won't help avoid answers as comments, but will generate untidier comments. – AccidentalFourierTransform Jan 16 '16 at 11:20
• I don't quite agree with this (answer). If what you're posting answers the question, it should be posted as an answer; if it doesn't, it shouldn't. The criteria that distinguish them are purpose and intent, not length. That being said, answers do tend to be longer than comments. – David Z Jan 17 '16 at 9:13

It's not a bad idea, but I doubt this will be implemented because it would make the comment system much more complicated under the hood for little gain. It's not something we (i.e. this community) can do ourselves; it would require the time of an SE developer.

I don't think it's a really important feature to have, for a couple of reasons: first, with respect to this:

My point is: sometimes, when I see that I'm getting close to the char-limit, the only way to fit my comment is to delete some commands, which don't actually make my comment longer (when rendered), but they do make it more readable. For example, instead of writing \left(\frac{\mathrm df}{\mathrm dx}\right) I would end up writing (df/dx). When rendered, both are equally long, which mean they are equivalent length-wise. But the first option, despite having a higher char-count, is (IMHO) much more readable and nice-looking than the first one.

Comments are transient, and they don't really need to be as readable as possible. They just need to make their point once, to one or two people: the author of the post you're commenting on, and the other commenter who you're replying to. Maybe a few others who are also involved in an exchange in the comments, in some cases. Still, that group is small enough, and familiar enough with the context of the question or answer, that they'll understand what you mean even if you have some mis-sized parentheses and incorrect fonts. So in a case like the one you've described, just write (df/dx) if that's what it takes to fit your comment into the box.

The other thing is that you can post multiple comments. If you run out of space in one, continue it into another one. I've been known to do something like

@somebody ...blah blah blah (cont.)

(next comment)

(cont.) blah blah blah...

That being said, if you find yourself having to do this, think of it as a "warning flag" of sorts, and check whether you really have to post so much. I find that it's often possible to compress something to fit into the 600 character limit by removing unnecessary words and phrases. We don't have rules against posting multiple comments in a row precisely because we should be able to trust each other not to ramble on and on when it's not necessary (and as things are now, that trust is justified).

As with many of these things, the rules/guidelines/recommendations/etc. are a little looser on meta because it's more discussion-oriented, so you may see more multi-comment replies here.