I regularly find myself in a situation where a mistake creeps in a comment I made, and I realize it after the 5 min allowance is over. Perhaps I messed up a word, a formula, or some part of a link. When that's not disruptive (including, when that's in the last comment), I post a new comment and immediately remove the old one. But sometime that's unadvisable; I either leave frustrated, or on occasion I make a comment on my error (adding to the clutter), for it is not unheard that a moderator is kind enough to fix the mistake, and remove the comment about it.

I wish I had an edit one's comments (read "edit my own") privilege (perhaps coming with a badge). I think it should be awarded after some time/level of participation, or purchasable against a lot of rep. It should come with instruction to use it only in ways that can't change the meaning of a later discussion, and revocable if that's violated.

The only drawback I can see is that it will diminish the motivation to become moderator. But in my case, I don't want that privilege, for I have more than my share of tough decisions to make.

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    Also see this Meta.SE Q&A.. TL;DR: Comments don't have a history and thus accountability is harder which is why you only have a short period to edit them. – SEJPM Oct 5 '17 at 11:29
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    SE hates comments, so they want them to suck. – CodesInChaos Oct 5 '17 at 13:57
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    @SEJPM That Meta Q&A you linked to is outdated and incorrect. Comments do have a revision history and therefore they also come with easy accountability. Check this screenshot to see an example revision history which I can see (being a mod — your mileage may vary) when I click the pen icon left of the edit link. – e-sushi Oct 5 '17 at 21:23
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    @e-sushi Revision History for comments is a mod-only feature apparently. At least I, as a 19k user, can't see it. With this new info, it may be an idea to bring this request to meta.se? – SEJPM Oct 5 '17 at 22:06
  • @SEJPM Haven't been at Meta.SE for some time now, so I can't judge if that's a good idea or not. I'ld hate to say "yes" or "no" and be wrong, only because I can't judge the "crowd dynamics" of potential discussions at Meta.SE and therefore don't know if (cross)postng this Q there would be constructive or not. Personally, I'ld probably simply wait here at Crypto.Meta for some initial feedback from the SE team… but this is not my feature request. TL;DR: instead of asking me if it's a good idea to also post this feature request at Meta.SE, it's probably safer to toss a coin to decide that. ;) – e-sushi Oct 6 '17 at 1:07
  • Moderators are the only ones who can edit comments, so the comment revision history is also only needed to check for their edits. – Paŭlo Ebermann Oct 23 '17 at 17:04
  • @e-sushi I also didn't know about comment revision history, despite having access to it. You have to click the pencil, which exists but isn't a link on other sites (i.e. an unintuitive UI). – wizzwizz4 Oct 23 '17 at 19:48

TL;DR: This is not going to happen.


Allowing users to edit comments after the five minute grace just isn't a worthwhile feature. It would require placing more emphasis onto comments than we want to place onto comments, in order to make the feature even remotely feasible for long-term use.

Most importantly, allowing such a feature would mean that every user would need to have access to a revision history for comments in order to audit what has been said before and how it's changed. This revision history exists already, but it's currently only accessible to moderators.

As you've probably heard before, comments are third-class citizens and aren't meant to be important in any way. The revision history only exists so that moderators can look into claims of rude behavior that's since been edited out, and to provide accountability for other moderators. It is not a feature we ever planned on releasing to the wild for all users, because we don't want users focusing that much attention on comment functionality.

That means that regular users can only see that a comment was edited and when, not what it used to contain. It also makes editing a comment in the middle of a thread somewhat unfair, as a user can't know if that edit drastically changed the comment or just fixed a tiny mistake.

I know that reasoning seems kind of circular and it's really meant to be. Comments are meant to request clarifications and point out mistakes, and they should be seen as information that can be deleted at any time for no reason whatsoever. We're simply not interested in investing time in expanding a feature that is meant to contain such temporary content, and we don't want users spending their time fixing old comments.

  • I just wish it lasted a little longer than 5 minutes. I've lost count of how many times I've copied a comment, deleted it, then edited it and added it back simply because I was no longer able to edit it. – forest Mar 18 at 1:16

I often find myself frustrated by the editing time limit as well.

However, after reading this related post on Meta.SE, I changed my mind.

Basically, you have to delete and re-add your comment so that it shows up at the end, and it doesn't look like the new (potentially completely different) text you changed it to is what people were replying to previously.

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    That's a serious issue indeed, and why my proposal suggests this new privilege "should be awarded after some time/level of participation, or purchasable against a lot of rep. It should come with instruction to use it only in ways that can't change the meaning of a later discussion, and revocable if that's violated." But the current situation is that one can only remove one's misleading comment (rather than add a caveat that it was made in error), and that removal itself can create a mess. – fgrieu Oct 24 '17 at 5:55
  • Yep, I currently run into this all the time; keeping a bad comment there is not good but messing up the thread isn't either. You can solve this by putting the outcome into the question or answer, and then asking a mod to clear the stream of comments. – Maarten Bodewes Dec 2 '17 at 11:12

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