Minimum post length

I think the only type of post where short answers make more sense than reactions is a yes/no question or similar.

Here we have polls, so maybe te minimum required length for answer is not a bad idea.

I think this is a pretty important point.

For context, I agree that extremely short posts are not helpful in a discussion forum (as opposed to a chat), and allowing them would bring benefit to the author to the detriment of many people who may get notified or have to sift through lots of individual posts that don’t add much to the discussion.

That said, I also have found myself wanting a way to express additional feelings (such as gratitude). Sometimes a :heart: or a :star_struck: may work, but IMO it would be quite helpful to expand the available reactions to include e.g.:

  • :pray: for thanks
  • :smiley: for excitement
  • :muscle: for encouragement
  • :clap: for congratulating
  • :heavy_plus_sign: for adding oneself to a list (“me too”)
  • :eyes: for expressing interest/curiosity
  • :thinking: for pondering
  • :tada: for celebration

…etc. All of these are pretty common in chat apps and the meaning is generally well understood. Of course in the case of the OSM community we’d have to decide which ones to include (although it could be argued that, for a project like OSM that follows the spirit of “folksonomy”, with free-form tags that coalesce into shared conventions, we might want to even allow any emoji and let common practices emerge naturally).

The main point is that by expanding the list, the “additional reactions” that many have wished to convey with a short phrase rather than the currently available emoji, would likely be possible, and not lead to a sense that the forum is restricting one’s ability to express oneself.

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Keep in mind that such emoticons can be interpreted very differently internationally. For you it is “thank you”, for me it is “pray”. Hindus may see it as “namsté”, a greeting, a bow.

So we would first have to agree internationally what a certain emoticon is supposed to mean. It may well be that younger generations are more familiar with it.

The “noise” in the notifications is the only argument. But I am convinced that this will not make a noticeable difference. If people really want to write a comment, they will do so. If the minimum character length bothers them, they will simply write more without saying more. The noise will then only get stronger.
Those who feel it is more appropriate to use reactions will do so. I myself, by the way, also do this if I think it is better in certain cases.

And another technical argument: it is not possible to use reactions for only part of the post. It happens quite often that you agree with one part and disagree with another part in the same post. Or do the supporters have a solution?

translation by deepl


My understanding is that we want this to be both a discussion forum and a help/support site, with the latter replacing (at least I think that is still the plan).

I feel short comments sometimes make sense in the help/support context. Some requests for help require considerable time and effort to provide a response (e.g. navigating to a specific place on the map, checking tags, maybe opening an editor to see how something is presented or looking at the syntax of an overpass query). If somebody made that effort to help me, I would naturally say “thank you”, or maybe “thank you, that worked”. Like @Mammi71 said, maybe it is a generational thing - I would see it both as politeness and a way of confirming the issue is closed.

Again, I think this happens more often in help/support than general discussion. Maybe not for the original question, but for follow-up and confirmation. E.g. if I explain something about access tagging and the questioner says “so just to confirm, you are saying that bicycle=yes overrides access=no?”, I feel “Yes” is an appropriate answer.

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That’s a great point too and I feel the same need at times. The only workaround I’m aware of is quoting parts of the response and reacting individually to it. I would normally avoid doing so if I don’t have anything other than a reaction to add. But I agree it’s a limitation — I should be possible to react differently to different parts of a post, and do so with emoji if those would be sufficient for what I want to say. But that is a separate issue that isn’t related to the minimum post length (I think the quote counts towards the size of the answer).

unfortunately not

as the test proves!


… and again have to write something pointless about it, although two words would have been perfectly sufficient!

quod erat demonstrandum


I suggest to made a middle ground compromise and test it for 1 month and then re-evaluate:

  • Change min post length to 10, so people who really need to say “Thank you” can do it.
  • Increase the reaction icons to include at least a few ones that can help express gratitude :pray:, congratulation :clap: or celebration :tada:

After a month we can see how this resulted in the day to day discussion dynamics and see if other changes might be needed.

I’d hold any changes thinking on the #help-and-support category for now, because soon the voting plugin should be stable enough to test and can be evaluated with that different design/dynamic.

How does this sound to you all?


Sounds good (and now some extra characters to exceed the limit, which could be avoided if the question was made a poll)

We should test it with min post length of 1.


I can’t say for the 10 chars for sure because I support and don’t support the 20 chars threshold :stuck_out_tongue: It’s just quite ok for a goodly structured response to something.

What I want to say though is that :pray: emoji, even though it’s original meaning ( think it says it on emojipedia aswell, not sure) is about high five, which corresponds to the response of gratitude, but in several cultures is considered erroneously as praying icon, which is what one has to write to spawn this emoji. So, I think this emoji shouldn’t be included in the expansion list to avoid confusion while using it

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Not sure if there is other emoji to show something similar to gratitude/thank you for most people.

This is going in the right direction, but I suggest starting with the furthest alternative to testing. Or with 5 characters, which allows “thanks”, but blocks +1, yes and no.

I find even more reactions in the form of emoticons difficult. As already written, these can be interpreted very differently. In contrast, there are many clearer rules for translations of the written word (and even here misunderstandings are not excluded).

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If someone asks, if something is correct, “Ja” is a high quality answer. If someone asks, how many XYZ are needed, “5” is a high quality answer. Do you think I should add nonsense, just to satisfy a “minimum post length” rule? Some people prefer the KISS principle (KISS principle - Wikipedia). :grinning:


I understand the argument of both sides - Discourse offers options for replacing a short reply by an emoji which was not available in the old forum. As soon as everyone got used to it I am sure most of the very short replies will disappear. On the other side these options do not cover all possible cases as pointed out in different posts before which makes it necessary to type some nonsense characters just to cover the minlenght requirement.

What I dislike most with the minimum length ist the arrogance behind the rule. Someone decides to fix a willy-nilly minimum lenght and every user has to follow. OSM is an open project and it would suit the forum well to be open enough to allow its users to decide what they want to write and in how many words.

The “tons of irrelevant notifications/emails to dozens or hundreds of people” suspected by @nukeador have not been a real problem in the old forum as far as I have noticed. There is zero proof this will happen in reality, it is just an assumption. If this should really grow into a serious problems the introduction of a minimum length could be kicked off. Until there is no reason to justify a limit at all. That is why I do not see the need of any minlenght at all at the time being.

PS: If the argument pro minlength is to avoid irrelevant and annoying short posts in public discussions why is there a minlenght for private messages as well …?!?.. this is nothing but nannying imho.


I think this is a maybe seldom used but good example of quality not depending on length.
I do agree that 11 :+1: at the bottom line of a contribution are better than 11 separate replies with +1. But as community members get more acquainted with the quick response button, short replies without discussion contribution (“low quality”) will reduce.
But not all short and constructive contributions can be handled by unambiguous emojis as quick reaction. Communication has to rely on widely understood entities especially on a world wide platform, so restrict them to the most common ones.

If one looks at the contributions in this forum, most of them widely exceed the 20 char limit (this one too :grinning:).
But in the few cases where a shorter text would suffice the limit is just annoying. This overweighs imho the even fewer cases with minor information content (“noise; low quality”).

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If nobody knows about the definite meaning of an emoji we should not think about using it as a comment to another persons post. The description of :pray: in the list of emojis available here in the reply box is “pray”, not “thank you” or “gimme five”. I agree with @Mammi71 that emojis are a nice fancy feature but should not be overstressed as replacement of written replies.

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actually not. I’d set it to 1 and see what will happen (nothing special I guess, we could simply continue to use the forum as we used the old one, without automatic rules about formal criteria bossing us around)


Repeating your personnel standpoint does not add to a quality discussion. Does it?


I must honestly say I agree with you on your actual view and would not support a demotion.
The character limit is meant to create reasonable communication. And no, statements like “yes”, “no”, “thank you” etc. is not useful for effective communication. The software is called “Discourse” for a reason. I am in favour of clearer and more reasonable communication on this platform.

Effective communication is one thing. Spoon feeding of the users another.

The freedom of speech for adult members of an open community is more important than restrictive rules to enforce formalities or to avoid assumed notification noise.