I'm implementing Q&A service for my project and I can't really choose: to use linear or hierachical answer comments structure. Hierachical looks more appropriate for me, but linear is much more compact.

  • 2
    This belongs on meta.programmers.stackexchange.com. That's the Q&A site about this Q&A site. You'll get much better answers to this question there.
    – Ryan Hayes
    Nov 9, 2010 at 20:23
  • You may want to rephrase this. What you actually seem to want to ask is something like "What are the pros and cons of linear vs hierarchical comment structure in [describe your situation here]?" As stated currently, this is a question about Programmers.SE, and should therefore probably be in Meta.P.SE
    – Inaimathi
    Nov 9, 2010 at 20:25
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    Actually, this probably belongs on the parent meta.stackoverflow.com since it applies to all StackExchanges, not just Prog.SE Nov 11, 2010 at 19:01
  • So you ask questions about meta on meta?
    – user1249
    Nov 18, 2010 at 17:27

3 Answers 3


See this Meta SO post for a Greasemonkey script to do that.

  • Link is no longer works and I didn't find an archived version.
    – Marc.2377
    Mar 30, 2019 at 16:37

Because linear comments suck.

No, seriously.

This is a Question&Answer site, not a discussion site. Threaded posts are vital for a healthy discussion, linear comments make it impossible to properly follow the flow of a (distributed) discussion. And that's exactly the point: discourage discussion by making it hard to have a discussion.

Another point is about the comments themselves: they are second-class citizens. They only support a subset of the formatting options that other posts do. They have a pretty harsh length restriction. They are rendered in a smaller font.

This creates a divide between the poster and the commenter, which, again, hinders discussion. A healthy discussion requires that all participants be equal.

So, in short: comments are deliberately made this way to discourage discussion, because this is not a discussion site.

  • 1
    Spot on. Comments are meant for short requests for clarification or to point out mistakes. Nothing more. They can be used for discussion, but as Jörg points out it is deliberately difficult.
    – ChrisF Mod
    Nov 11, 2010 at 20:39
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    Threaded posts are not vital for a healthy discussion (see Pharyngula and h2g2 for counterexamples). Threaded posts are, in fact, awful for proper discussion, because you have to constantly rescan the entire thread as new posts may pop up anywhere. A real conversation is linear, and there's no reason why an internet conversation should not be the same.
    – TRiG
    Nov 20, 2010 at 13:33

Usability. Every additional click, when required to use the application decimates audience of users by factor of 2.

Population of planet is a limited number. After 33 clicks application becomes theoretically unreachable dark matter. We can not prove or disprove that such applications exist, because no evidence was ever obtained.

  • Hard to argue with logic like that. Nov 14, 2010 at 23:20
  • I can argue it, @Robert Harvey. ;) "Decimation", when being strictly pedantic, means a reduction by 10%. :D Dec 29, 2010 at 4:05

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