EDIT: I got it to happen again, and this time it took much longer than 5 minutes.

I've sort of noticed it happening before, but I wasn't sure, and even assuming I was correct I didn't have an idea of how long it took. With my first comment to this question, I am sure it happened, and fairly confident that it was 5 minutes after the comment was posted.

Why does the site change how it displays comments? (after whatever period of time)?
Is there a way to see how the comment will be displayed without just waiting?

I managed to get a before and after (though not for the comment that caused me to make this post):

enter image description here

The top comment is the after, the bottom comment is what it looked like before.

(If you go to that question, you won't see the image's bottom comment, since I deleted it due to it being a copy of my first comment there.)

My original comment there did look like the image's bottom comment even after I waited and reloaded.

  • $\begingroup$ It might be easier to answer if you would post some screenshot of the situation before and after. $\endgroup$ Jul 17, 2012 at 20:10
  • $\begingroup$ Editing comments is not possible after 5 minutes. Is it possible the removal of edit controls is what you're seeing? $\endgroup$
    – B-Con
    Jul 20, 2012 at 20:48
  • $\begingroup$ No. I suspect that the removal of edit controls is causing a reformat, for whatever reason. $\endgroup$
    – user991
    Jul 21, 2012 at 1:11
  • $\begingroup$ Well, for what it's worth, I did a "before" and "after" of my above comment, the screenshot is here. Nothing changed, except for the removal of controls. That was in Firefox 13.0.1 on Linux. $\endgroup$
    – B-Con
    Jul 23, 2012 at 4:33
  • 4
    $\begingroup$ Why does your comment contain such strange latex spacing in the first place? $\endgroup$ Jul 30, 2012 at 6:15
  • $\begingroup$ @CodesInChaos: It was to put the line-break there. $\endgroup$
    – user991
    Aug 1, 2012 at 6:03
  • 3
    $\begingroup$ @RickyDemer Yeah, all display bets are off when you add latex formatting for whatever reason. This is basically an edge case. $\endgroup$
    – Adam Lear StaffMod
    Aug 1, 2012 at 21:47
  • 7
    $\begingroup$ Why don't you just stop adding manual linebreaks? Those line-breaks in unfitting places just make your answers look weired. Browsers aren't fit for pixel exact rendering. How much information fits on one line depends on the browser, user settings, ... $\endgroup$ Aug 30, 2012 at 14:36
  • $\begingroup$ @RickyDemer FYI: meta.crypto.stackexchange.com/questions/466/… $\endgroup$
    – mikeazo
    Oct 1, 2014 at 14:02

3 Answers 3


Did you edit your comment to add a $\hspace{0.8 in}$ at any point? Somehow those latex codes ended up in your comment, and their presence is why you see the funny spacing.

So the real question is probably: how did the latex codes $\hspace{0.8 in}$ get in your comment? Did you add them manually/yourself? Does this ring any bells for you?

In general, the best way to avoid this in the future is probably: don't add special latex code to insert extra spacing into your comments. Don't try to force a line break yourself by adding special latex spaces. Instead, just let the site wrap the text of your comment automatically. See if that makes the issue go away for you.


The timestamp has changed, which has caused the comment to reflow.

Your comment would have similarly looked bad from the start if it had been viewed in a different font or on a mobile device.

You get to choose what text you put in your comments. You don't get to choose the locations of line breaks, because different people have different line widths.

Do not use manual spacing to format comments. It doesn't work. Stop doing it, it makes your posts and comments hard to read. And never, ever do it to someone else's posts!


I'm not familiar with anything that changes how comments are displayed after 5 minutes.

It's possible you might have been seeing something related to the MathJax latex typesetting. The site relies upon including some Javascript, which typesets the latex. The Javascript runs after the page loads. If you are on a flaky network and there is an error loading the Javascript, then the Javascript might not run and the page will display the untypeset version (e.g., with $x$ instead of $x$). If you later reloaded or re-visited the page, the Javascript might get loaded successfully on the second try and cause your latex to be properly typeset the second time. Could this explain what you were seeing?

  • $\begingroup$ Well, that's not what I was seeing. I don't know if that could explain what I was seeing. (I got a before-and-after screenshot which is now in the OP.) $\endgroup$
    – user991
    Aug 1, 2012 at 6:06

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