Can we remove the 20 character minimum from posts?


It’s very frustrating when we want to do a quick reply and instead need to add filler words to the post.


Is a reply under 20 characters worth it? Just saying “awesome!” or “good job!” doesn’t contribute to the dialogue. There’s the “like this post” function for things like that. I’d rather read thoughtfully composed responses that take more than 10 seconds out of someone’s stream of consciousness than have to skim through impulsive fluff.

No offense intended. It’s just my take on why the limit is there in the first place.


In theory the word limit seems good. In practice it can be bypassed by adding some random words.

A word limit don’t promote more thoughtfully composed posts, humans dont work that way.


People do work that way. I know of 3 or 4 times I’ve been blocked by the character limit before I started just using the “like this post” option. It’s easier and less cluttering.

If all you have to say is less than 20 characters, it’s probably not worth saying. That’s a pretty low threshold for meaningful communication.


If we communicated in binary, and every word had it’s own binary representation, we would only need 20 binary digits at most to use any word. That is all.

Also, could you please edit the title to say “word” instead of “world”? It’s a bit embarrassing.


Interestingly, using the dictionary in Mathematica, there are 231 words for which the binary representation is the same length as the word (eg “antiferromagnetic” is 78823rd, which is 10011001111100111_2), 208 for which the binary representation is an improvement (eg “antiferromagnetism” is 79055th, which is 10011010011001111_2), and 78819 for which binary is actually longer (eg “age” is 515th, which is 1000000011_2), if you sort the dictionary by length, shortest first, and then assign the numbers in increasing order.
I’m just repeating the analysis using “only words which are actually in the dictionary”, but it’s taking time to filter WordData down using DictionaryLookup, but it appears that spelling out words is usually more space-efficient on the page than numbering them and displaying the number in binary. (We could make a more clever ranking, letting “the” = 1, for example - but that would take some actual thought.)

ETA: using only words which are actually in the dictionary, rather than (say) acronyms, the numbers become 1350,2745,37267 respectively, which is a considerable improvement - a little over 6.5% of words can be compressed using a naive ranking, while just over 90% of words are made longer.


It makes sense that writing is sparsely distributed because a system based on sparse invariant representations is what spawned it in the first place. :wink:


Well of course, if the human language itself doesn’t shorten common words, then you would find that any word is on average 13 times longer in binary, because there are 26 letters in the English language, equivalent to a base 26 numbering system, whereas binary is of course a base 2 numbering system.

I would be willing to bet that optimizing using a word list sorted by frequency would make it more efficient than the English language despite that.


Although almost all of the base 26 numbers don’t correspond to a word. Base 26 is extremely inefficient if almost all of the numbers are unused!


There is a technique/algorithm called Huffman coding that does exactly this.

But back on topic: I believe the twenty character minimum is quite useful: it discourages “empty” replies, but when someone really wants to make a short reply it is still possible. Forcing you to add some characters makes you notice you are making a short reply, and (in my experience) encourages one to think if their reply is worth it/if one can make their reply more constructive to the discussion.

Tl;dr: 20 char minimum prevents “empty” replies and could encourage longer, thought out replies.


There is also no need for the usual “subscribing” posts, consisting of just the word “Subscribe” or “In” - since Discourse lets you favourite a topic.


In all of these cases (where people complain about word limit), the message could have made with a :heart: to the parent. It’s all about reducing the noise, collapsing a stream of 20+ people saying “I agree!” into 20 people liked this.

(OK, the third example is debatable. I came across these naturally BTW, I didn’t search for them)

When you see the warning about ‘not enough characters’, take a minute and think “What am I adding to this conversation?”


But we’re not trying to add content to an encyclopaedia, we’re a community and people communicate in several ways. Sometimes long form, sometimes short form.


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Post must be at least 20 characters.




Instead put at least one full sentence limit which is defined as a SV or SVO predicate clause.


not 20 chars