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Often when I start reading comments, it is only when I come to the end that I see a link like "add/see 10 other comments". I can understand that if there is a huge list of comments for the same question/answer, it makes sense not to display them all right away. But the invisible comments are not necessarily the ones that occur last in chronological order, so after clicking on this link, there can appear other comments right between those I have already read. A visible comment can even refer to an invisible previous one, which is frustrating. Is there a way to change that behaviour? I figure it is rather comments that don't have (yet) any "useful comment" vote that tend to be hidden. (Is that so?) But even though, they may be relevant for subsequent ones.

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    $\begingroup$ Right: the number of comment upvotes is the most important factor that determines which comments float to the top, followed by chronology. $\endgroup$ – Todd Trimble Mar 23 '14 at 13:37
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    $\begingroup$ So why doesn't chronology come first? An innocent question in a comment can get a very useful (thus upvoted) reply. $\endgroup$ – Wolfgang Mar 23 '14 at 14:22
  • $\begingroup$ and nobody can decide otherwise? $\endgroup$ – Wolfgang Mar 23 '14 at 14:28
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    $\begingroup$ So, what is your request? To always show the first N comments; or something else? (If you ask a feature-request please make a precise suggestion. If you want to discuss something start a discussion or if you want to know how something works a support request.) $\endgroup$ – user9072 Mar 23 '14 at 15:33
  • $\begingroup$ There is an old history behind this feature. The last paragraph of this old blog post where comment voting was introduced explains the origin. $\endgroup$ – François G. Dorais Mar 23 '14 at 18:58
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    $\begingroup$ @Todd: no, I don't want to argue at all. Well, I was sort of obliged to choose the "feature request" tag as one of the main tags. (If the "discussion" tag is a main tag, too, feel free to change it!) Otherwise, I'll put it like that: I would like to request either to always show the first N comments (whatever N is...), or to have a choice to do so somewhere in the personal settings, or to hide the latest ones instead of the least voted ones. $\endgroup$ – Wolfgang Mar 23 '14 at 21:12
  • $\begingroup$ A question on meta must have (at least) one of the four tags: bug, discussion, feature-request, support When in doubt use discussion or support. I retagged. $\endgroup$ – user9072 Mar 23 '14 at 21:40
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    $\begingroup$ I have often found myself wishing the "show all comments" button was displayed above the comment list so that I would not start reading the thread only to discover at the end that I missed some stuff in the middle. $\endgroup$ – Yoav Kallus Mar 25 '14 at 2:47
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No, there is no way to change this behaviour through the current interface.

Note from the blog post François linked to that long ago no comments were shown until a link was clicked. There are a number of 'features' of the Stack Exchange platform that discourage comments (or at least lengthy interchanges in the comments), and generally I think this is a good idea, even if it has some annoying effects.

That said, here is a bookmarklet that shows all comments:

javascript:$('.comments-link').click();

There are various extensions for different browsers available that will automatically run snippets of javascript on designated pages. Alternatively one could write a 2- or 3-line userscript. Either of these possibilities would give you the desired behaviour.

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    $\begingroup$ Do we have a page that collects all these handy little scripts/addons that people may wish to use? Or perhaps a CW meta question where they can be gathered and to which one can refer from a general help/faq on usage page? $\endgroup$ – David Roberts Mar 24 '14 at 0:01
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    $\begingroup$ @Scott: Do you mean there is no way to change this behaviour through the current interface for the user, or is the idea that all stackexchange sites are supposed to display things the same (or similar) way, and thus it is not feasible to change the display for all of them? There might be another possibility though, more user-friendly, which is used by some websites: Instead of the line at the end, there could be a clickable line before the comments saying something like "Some comments are hidden. Click to show all 17 comments". $\endgroup$ – Wolfgang Mar 24 '14 at 10:18
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    $\begingroup$ @Wolfgang In some sense I think he meant to convey both. There is no option for costumization for each user. And it is unlikely to be added or changed since SE is all but keen on promoting comments. Your last proposal however might be more feasible; having it before and not after. [One more procedural note: if now at the end of this discussion there should be some concensus that this would be a good idea, then you could post a feature-request asking for this particular change.] $\endgroup$ – user9072 Mar 24 '14 at 11:53
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    $\begingroup$ @Wolfgang, I only intended to answer that the current user interface doesn't provide what you're looking for. Thus making this possible (without bookmarklets or user scripts --- did you try mine?) requires a feature-request that is taken up by the SE programmers. My expectation is that feature-requests which are not somehow specific to the professional mathematics community are unlikely to receive high priority, because SE would consider them as feature-requests for the entire SE platform. $\endgroup$ – Scott Morrison Mar 24 '14 at 22:43

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