Allow comments exceeding 5000 characters to be edited, rather than get immediately deleted

I just spent 45+ minutes writing a detailed, very long comment to reply to another user on an observation. When I hit the ‘done’ button to send it, a pop up message appeared:

That’s fine in itself. But when I hit ok, my entire comment got deleted!! I don’t quite understand why it wouldn’t leave my comment unpublished, and allow me to edit it, e.g. break it up into two smaller comments. I essentially wasted that entire time as I’ll have to start writing it from scratch.

Been there, done that, felt the same pain. Now I know that I could lose a long comment I have changed my workflow to anticipate the possible loss. But I agree with you, better if the page did not delete the length exceeding comment. That or have a widget in the comment text box that provided a character count.


The same thing happens when a page has been open too long and has to be reloaded before adding a comment. It completely deletes the comment. I wonder if fixing this could fix that problem too.


I’ve learned the hard way that if a comment does not go first time around, to copy it before refreshing. The information may contain an hours worth of work (searching, copy/pasting, writing). I’m not sure how many sentences 5000 characters represents, but it is frustrating to lose a carefully constructed, long reply to an observation. Perhaps a warning before sending may be appropriate.


I suspect the majority of us don’t compose comments that are anywhere near 5,000 characters. If you do write such long comments, the best approach would be to do so in an email message, a Word document, or some other software platform and then just copy and paste the text into the iNat record. If it crashes, you haven’t lost the original.

Also, if you think your message might be too long you can split it into two or more.


Of course I’ll take that approach now, but I wasn’t even aware of the 5000 character limit, and I suspect many others aren’t either. I can’t see any benefit in having the comment deleted instead of retained to be edited.


I often spend that much time trying to research an answer which should be posted in comments. I have never seen that pop up message and probably have never written a comment that long but have often found that my comment disappears. What I find is if I move away from the window where I want to make the comment towards finding external references or even looking up the same species on iNat anything I’ve written disappears. This problem doesn’t occur when trying to respond to identifications so it seems to be a bug?


One trick I have noticed for this is once an ID is entered, then you can move back and forth between tabs or windows and nothing disappears. I have not tried this with a ‘placeholder’ ID. I do my research before entering an ID, then enter an ID and begin my rationale. I can then type and add links without losing my work. I have lost a few before I found this out.


I’ve been thinking it is a timing out problem too.

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Yes I do that too, I’ve learnt to copy and copy changes as I go. I even got to the point of setting up word docs and continually copy and pasting before I dash off to assuage my doubts. It shouldn’t be this hard.


Here’s a Github issue for the length problem: