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The Stack Exchange software has many small oddities. Serious misfeatures should be fixed, but often small oddities are just slightly frustrating and not properly called bugs. Although all of the oddities should be fixed in the ideal world, it cannot be expected that every small glitch will be fixed. Sharing them and their workarounds may mitigate the harm caused by those oddities.

Question. What is the small oddity you are aware of, and what is a workaround for it?

The question may not be as clear as I hoped it to be. See my answer, which may clarify the question.

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Five-minute edit window

When you make a post (a question or an answer) and edit it later, it creates a new revision. However, if the edit is within five minutes from the original post or the last edit, it does not become a new revision but simply overwrites the last revision. Usually we do not have to be aware of this, but it becomes relevant if we try to write a sensible edit summary (in the “Edit Summary” textbox on the edit page) because overwriting the revision also overwrites the edit summary.

For example, suppose that you posted an answer, and made a heavy edit one week later. You wrote the summary “improved the analysis significantly.” Just after you hit the “Save Edits” button, you realized several typos in your answer and fixed it with the summary “fixed typos.” Now the revision history shows an interesting thing: it shows only two revisions, and the newer revision making the significant improvement is shown with the summary “fixed typos.” :(

(This happened to me on MathOverflow. See the revision 3 of this revision history.)

Workaround

It is easiest to forget about edit summaries, since almost no one will look at the revision history (probably). However, if you want to make it perfect, you should know what will happen to the edit summary when you edit one post successively. In particular, you should know whether it will have passed more than five minutes since the last edit or not when you submit the edit, and write the edit summary accordingly.

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  • $\begingroup$ The five minute edit window is a feature, not a bug. It is intended to allow the op to make micro edits to their post without cluttering the edit history. $\endgroup$ – Robert Harvey Dec 11 '10 at 7:04
  • $\begingroup$ As far as the edit history goes, you don't have to fill it in at all if you don't want to. The system auto-fills it with an appropriate edit description anyway. $\endgroup$ – Robert Harvey Dec 11 '10 at 7:09
  • $\begingroup$ @Robert Harvey: I know the intent of the feature, and that is why I did not post this as a bug report. My point is that the combination of the five-minute edit window and the edit summary causes an undesired effect if you do not know what will happen. $\endgroup$ – Tsuyoshi Ito Dec 11 '10 at 13:16
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A link with an anchor text in a comment

Update

This issue has been fixed. Read more on Meta Stack Overflow.

It seems that this change also affects the comments posted before.


Edit: Below is an older description of the issue, which no longer applies.

You can put a link in a comment by either writing a complete URL or using the […](http:…) syntax, just as in Markdown used for questions and answers. For example, [TCS Stack Exchange](http://cstheory.stackexchange.com/) results in a link.

However, be careful when you use the latter syntax in a comment, because not all texts that would produce a link in Markdown also produce a link in comments. For example, if you enclose the text by a parenthesis like ([TCS Stack Exchange](http://cstheory.stackexchange.com/)) in a comment, the server does not recognize the syntax and turn only the URL part into a link.

Workarounds

The link syntax […](http:…) in comments is unreliable when a non-space character precedes or follows it. It is better not to use this syntax.

If you insist on using this syntax, an easy way to ensure that the server considers it as a hyperlink is to surround it by spaces. Some symbols such as a period and a comma seem to be allowed after the text.

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