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Under review

Links in comments get mangled when requesting an edit by a moderator.

stocks for profit 2 years ago in Website • updated 1 year ago 25

Hi Daniel,


This is a bit involved, so bear with me. I have to give a little background info here first. The "edit comment" feature where I can fix my own typos within 15 minutes after submitting a comment is fantastic. I am prone to typos so I use this thing all the time. 


The "edit comment" feature does a great job even with comments containing links. As you are aware, hyperlinks in comments are turned into tiny URLs when the comment is submitted. The "edit comment" feature undoes the tiny URL and restores the full link when editing a comment. The link is then turned back into a tiny URL when the fixed comment is resubmitted. This allows me to fix words, sentences or entire paragraphs during the 15 minute grace period. Links are never mangled because tiny URLs are undone and redone seamlessly by "edit comment".


Unfortunately everything changes after the 15 minute grace period. At that point I must request a moderated edit to fix a typo. I understand the reason for requiring a moderator and have no issue with that. But there seems to be a problem with comments containing links. When I request a moderated edit for a comment containing a link, that link inevitably gets mangled. Most of time I simply want to fix a word or sentence and don't want any change to occur with the link. When I submit the edit request, the moderator faithfully fixes the word or sentence but all links are broken in the process. 


I'm not sure why this happens. Perhaps the editing tools used by moderators are not as versatile as the "edit comment" feature available during the 15 minute grace period. Maybe the tiny URLs are not properly undone prior to editing and properly turned back into tiny URLs afterwards. Maybe the links remain tiny URLs during the edit and then get hashed again into bogus tiny URLs. Maybe there is a character set incompatibility across disparate systems that screws up the rehashing of links. Don't really know for sure about the details, but the bottom line is those links get totally hosed by the moderated edit.


Submitting a plea of caution along with fully expanded references of all URLs will sometimes yield good results. But expanding the URLs and noting their placement in the comment is laborious and unrelated to the actual edit request. Most of the time only a word or a sentence requires correction and the links just need to be preserved. 


The additional complexity of specifying expanded URLs and their placement within the comment is unsatisfactory. Many times the request for caution goes unheeded. Words and sentences are properly edited but the links get broken anyways. Other times the links are preserved but the formatting gets messed up. I'm a bit of a stickler for details. Paragraphs should be properly delineated and each link should occupy a separate line. My use of linefeed is deliberate and not random. I also like double dashes and a space to precede links. Often times a short phrase in parenthesis immediately follows a link on the same line to describe it. Clarity of presentation goes hand in hand with clarity of thought.


All this stuff goes out the window if I request an edit of any comment containing a link. For a concrete example consider the comment linked below.


-- https://seekingalpha.com/article/4105564-massive-capital-needs-cause-fuelcell-energys-turn-toxic-financing#comment-76369037 (This comment has a typo)


This comment was submitted a few days ago by me. I discovered a typo after the 15 minute grace period and have been weighing the risks of having it fixed by a moderator. The typo is minor except for the fact the comment contains two links. The links are preceded by double dashes and space, followed by descriptions in parenthesis, and occupy deliberately chosen positions between paragraphs. In short, this is a moderated edit request minefield just waiting to get screwed up.


All I want done to this comment is have the word "buys" replaced by the word "picks". The edit is technically trivial but contextually important. Cummins picked Ceres for a partnership, they didn't buy Ceres. My phrase next to the link needs fixing. Everything else in the comment is fine and should remain unchanged.


I was about ready to write off this regrettable typo. But then I thought about the great job you did fixing a problem I reported on September 19th. Maybe you can help me again.


At a minimum, please fix my comment typo as requested. More generally, it would be great if you could find out why links get broken by moderated edits and fix that problem. Moderators should be able to fix typos as effortlessly and flawlessly as I can via "edit comment". That seems like a reasonable capability for moderators.


Appreciate your consideration in this matter. Let me know. Thanks.

Daniel, after posting my feedback I noticed something interesting. The link within my feedback was not hashed into a tiny URL. It remains a full URL. That is quite different from what happens if the same link had been put into a comment. The link in a comment would have been turned into a tiny URL rather than left in full URL form.


The fact that links in comments and feedback posts are processed differently is potentially problematic. At the very least it reveals inconsistent handling of links across various user interfaces. Maybe a similar anomaly is affecting moderators when editing comments containing links. 


Hopefully this is a clue that helps you track down the problem. Just a thought.


P.S. - The term "tiny URL" in all my posts is meant in a generic sense regarding short URLs.

Under review

Hi,


Thanks for the detailed report. We will look into it. The reason the links work differently in this feedback interface is because it's using a 3rd party tool (good catch!)

It's been a week since this problem was reported. Don't want it falling off the radar. Has anyone been assigned to look into it yet? What's the status? Appreciate an update on the situation. Thanks.


Comments from the SA community provide valuable supplemental info to articles. Moderated edits should be straightforward even if comments contain links. Right now that is not the case. Please fix this problem.


Vote the topic up if you want this bug fixed.  The squeaky wheel gets the oil.

Thanks for the reminder, 


We are somewhat short-handed this week but are continuing to look into this issue and will post here when it has been resolved.


Best,

Around December 22 I noticed the "Edit/Delete" link at the bottom of all my old comments became "Edit Comment". The mysterious condition persisted for days. This miracle allowed me to fix several of my erroneous old comments with links, including the one mentioned in my original request at the top of this thread. Personal time constraints prevented me from implementing an exhaustive search to fix all my previous typos. Also the multi-day duration gave me the illusion of more time to pursue this issue in a leisurely manner.


Alas, the "Edit Comment" link seems to have disappeared today becoming the old "Edit/Delete" link again. Those heady few days where I could fix errors are gone. Making future comments containing links is once again stressful. The peril of undetected errors beyond the 15 minute grace period looms. Wings are clipped once more.


While I'm pleased to have fixed some previous comment errors, my original request for a general fix still remains preferred and unfulfilled. Still hoping for an eventual fix, but I understand your resources are limited and prioritized.


Maybe that "Edit Comment" miracle can periodically reappear to ameliorate accumulated errors. 

Hi There,


Thanks again for your detailed and thoughtful feedback. The "Edit Comment" was a holiday miracle! Seriously, it was a bug on our end which we fixed today. We can't allow users to edit their own comments without our moderation team's overview as it would allow for revisionist history.


All the best,

Daniel

I hear you! Hope you had a wonderful holiday and got some time off. Thanks.

The original problem description by @stocks for profit mentions that our tinyURL links are handled correctly when we edit comments. That was not my experience today. I edited one of my comments several times that includes a links several times and each time I submitted my edit, my link no longer worked and I had to reedit my comment and insert the original URL again in order for the link to be intact and work correctly....

Hi Ledlights


I noticed new anomalies this morning while re-editing one of my comments during the 15 minute grace period. The comment today appeared fine when posted, but I wanted to add some additional info. When I clicked "Edit Comment" weird stuff appeared in the edit box. Apparently the new mangling occurs when the posted comment is put back into the edit box. This new mangling is somewhat different than the mangling originally described. The original mangling noted at the top of this thread seems to occur when reposting an edited comment. It's all mangling, but each type manifests itself differently.


There was what looked like markup text placed before my three links. In the posted comment I had also successfully used => several times to denote numerical results for some calculations. The > was converted to gibberish when I attempted the re-edit. It was a mess. I fixed my links and removed the other garbage. I decided to omit the problematic > and used only the = symbol. My comment was fine then, but I didn't dare edit it again. Once burned twice shy. Plus my grace period was almost over.


Maybe the markup processor for comments went temporarily insane. Made some more comments this afternoon and they were fine. But they didn't contain any links or >. I'll post additional info here if stuff like this happens again.

Hi All,


Can you please direct me to a comment where this happened so we can check?


Are you able to reproduce the issue?

Hi Daniel,


I've had to edit this note here in an attempt to convey the conversion errors. Posting seems to gobble them up and obscure the behavior. I've replaced semicolons with colons and spaces in an attempt to suppress conversion. Links also have spaces interspersed to suppress conversion.


Now on to the original note:


Recently did a comment here...


https://seekingalpha.com/article/4131713-fuelcell-arrives-port-long-beach#comment-77229150


First time posting always works. Edits during the 15 minute grace period are now problematic. Anomalous behavior is visible when a posted comment is pulled into the edit box by clicking on "Edit Comment". My comment was successfully edited because I was aware of the problems and worked around them. Trusty "Edit Comment" no longer works as well as it used to. Making corrections during the 15 minute grace period caused various issues with the & (ampersand) character and > (right angle bracket).  Links were also embellished with markup language.


Taking specific examples from my recent comment:


An & (ampersand) originally posted will appear normal. Clicking "Edit Comment" converts the ampersand into & amp : in the edit box. Neglecting to delete the anomalous ampersand text will result in & amp : getting posted back after the edit session. Uncorrected repeated edits will cause the error to propagate recursively. So & becomes & amp : which becomes & amp : amp : and so on.


I noticed similar behavior with > (right angle bracket). The recursive conversion process goes as follows: The > becomes & gt : which becomes  & amp : gt :  and then & amp : amp : gt : and so on. Getting the picture?


There are probably other characters with problematic behavior but I have not sought them out.


Links also manifest themselves differently and now appear to contain markup language. These changes are potentially problematic.


My comment mentioned above has several links. All of them exhibited the same behavior described below. The original long form posted link was successfully converted into a short URL: http://bit.ly/2ErF8eH when first posted. But clicking "Edit Comment" converted the link into < a

rel="nofollow" target="_blank" href="http: // bit.ly / 2ErF8eH" > http: // bit.ly / 2ErF8eH < / a >


At first I felt compelled to delete the extraneous link text, but surprisingly after some experimentation all that stuff posted successfully. I suspect certain links containing problematic characters like ampersand might be gumming up the works. That could explain why links sometimes cause difficultly. Don't really know for sure.


Hope this helps. Maybe others will add some color.



I believe this behavior is reproducible. Though it might vary depending on whether you are doing stuff internally as an SA tech or from outside via the Web like us ordinary folks. 


Create a standard user account via the web and give it a try.


P.S. - The specific short URL example given for link behavior actually comes from another of my comments immediately preceding the one mentioned in my note. It only had one link and was easier to experiment with. The link to that comment is here:


https://seekingalpha.com/article/4131713-fuelcell-arrives-port-long-beach#comment-77229139


We have identified the issue and will  fix ASAP. Thanks so much for the detailed report.

Hi Daniel,


Appreciate your efforts.


As noted previously, I couldn't find fault with link handling in my example from yesterday but still suspected that a problem exists. Well here's an example of a link which does get screwed up by "Edit Comment".


All links conforming to the general format shown below work fine when first posted, but get broken after clicking "Edit Comment". It should be noted that links of this type are converted to a slightly longer home-brewed short URL when posted in comments. That makes links like these untypical, as most links are converted to standard short URL form. Spaces have been added to prevent link formation here.


https : // seekingalpha . com / article / 1234567-name-of-the-article # comment-12345678


The link above resolves into a home-brewed short URL. Most other links resolve into standard short URLs. The general form of these links are shown below. The a's on the right denote alphanumeric characters. The standard short URL is 14 characters long after omitting my spaces. The home-brewed short URL is longer.


Home-brewed short URL: seekingalpha . com / c / aaaaaa

Standard short URL: bit . ly / aaaaaaa


The error seems to truncate the longer home-brewed short URL after "Edit Comment" is clicked. Truncation occurs beyond the 14th character position. Only "seekingalpha.c" remains. This is visible in the edit box among the markup language associated with the URL. Considering that most links are standard short form, this truncation is the cause of broken links. If so then any links not turned into standard short URLs could be vulnerable to this kind of error. Exception handling needs to be added to accommodate the various flavors of links. While I can't give a specific example offhand, I remember seeing other kinds of links which are not converted to standard short URLs.


Maybe the link error reported by @Ledlights a few days ago was of a similar nature.


It is interesting that links are no longer expanded back into their original long form by "Edit Comment". I miss that feature. None of this used to be an issue. "Edit Comment" was working perfect until recently. After the current bugs with "Edit Comment" have been dealt with, I would still like my original request to be fulfilled. 


Moderated edits for comments containing links remain a problem. 


Thanks.


"I remember seeing other kinds of links..."


Quickly scanning the past 6 months of my comments reveals this list of short URL variants. The ones below are only a small sample of what clearly must be a huge variety of short URLs. The exception handling I mention in my previous note must be general enough to cope with this.


seekingalpha . com / c / aaaaaa
bit . ly / aaaaaaa
tinyurl . com / aaaaaaaa
lat . ms / aaaaaaa
reut . rs / aaaaaaa
on . app . com / aaaaaaa
read . bi / aaaaaaa
for . tn / aaaaaaa
cnb . cx / aaaaaaa
delonline . us / aaaaaaa
on . ny . gov / aaaaaaa


Anything longer than 14 characters is probably getting screwed up by "Edit Comment" right now. Well, I'm not going to tell grandma how to knit. I just want a nice fitting sweater. All the best to you.


There's no substitute for testing. 


Here are 10 long URLs taken from actual comments I've made over the last 6 months. They generated 10 short URLs which are the variants I describe in my previous note. I tried to include an example from the past which convert into a tinyurl . com example, but those full links seem to turn always into bit . ly short URLs now.


These 10 long URLs shown below become short URLs when posted in a comment. Each one generates a different variant of short URL. 


SA comment
-- https://seekingalpha.com/article/4131713-fuelcell-arrives-port-long-beach#comment-77229139

bit . ly
-- https://www.utilitydive.com/news/new-york-expected-to-set-high-bar-for-energy-storage-after-target-bill-pass/445845/

lat . ms
-- http://www.latimes.com/me-2003-los-angeles-streetcar-history-story.html

reut . rs
-- https://www.reuters.com/article/us-singapore-exxon-plant/exxonmobil-opens-third-cogeneration-power-plant-in-singapore-idUSKBN1CH07O

on . app . com
-- http://www.app.com/story/money/business/main-street/2017/09/08/vonage-ceo-fake-news/634939001/

read . bi
-- http://markets.businessinsider.com/news/stocks/FuelCell-Energy-Announces-20-Megawatt-Fuel-Cell-Project-with-Korea-Southern-Power-CompanyRepresents-first-fuel-cell-project-for-Korea-Southern-Power-Company-KOSPO-1002313440

for . tn
-- http://fortune.com/2016/10/06/bloom-energy-ipo/

cnb . cx
-- https://www.cnbc.com/2017/05/16/bloom-energy-2017-disruptor-50.html

delonline . us
-- http://www.delawareonline.com/story/news/local/2015/07/22/new-bloom-box/30475483/

on . ny . gov
-- https://www.nyserda.ny.gov/All-Programs/Programs/Clean-Energy-Standard/Renewable-Generators-and-Developers


The 10 long URLs become the following short URLs when posted in a comment. All links work when posted for the first time, but two of them display in abbreviated form followed by ellipsis. The actual short URLs for the two abbreviated links only show in the status bar of my browser when I float my mouse over the link.


SA comment

-- https://seekingalpha.com/c/19zadv (actual short URL)

-- https://seekingalpha.c... (but URL is displayed like this in the comment)

bit . ly

-- http://bit.ly/2ELc6GT

lat . ms
-- http://lat.ms/2xOGQGp

reut . rs
-- http://reut.rs/2BshInK

on . app . com
-- http://on.app.com/2y1j2vZ

read . bi
-- http://read.bi/2xhXwpZ

for . tn
-- http://for.tn/2vvYAkI

cnb . cx
-- http://cnb.cx/2w542OV

delonline . us
-- http://delonline.us/2ecQSbo (actual short URL)

-- http://delonline.us/2e... (but URL is displayed like this in the comment)

on . ny . gov
-- http://on.ny.gov/2vnRK0u


When clicking on "Edit Comment", all links are pulled into the edit box with their associated markup language as described in one of my earlier notes. The markup language shows each short URL twice, once with the href tag and again at the end for the display value. The href and display are the same for all links except the two with ellipsis. Those two have the actual short URL only in the href tag and show the abbreviated URL with ellipsis at the end of the markup.


Example of a non-abbreviated short URL with spaces added to suppress conversion:


< a rel="nofollow" target="_blank" href="http : // read . bi / 2xhXwpZ" >http : // read . bi / 2xhXwpZ 

< / a  >


Example of an abbreviated short URL with spaces added to suppress conversion:


< a rel="nofollow" target="_blank" href="http : // delonline . us / 2ecQSbo" > http : // delonline . us / 2e...

< / a >


So far so good. The href tag values for all links are fine, which is the actual definition for the hyperlink. The display values for the two abbreviated links should not be a problem either. But ending the edit and posting back reveals the problem. The two abbreviated links are now broken. All the other links are fine. Clicking "Edit Comment" again pulls the links back into the edit box. 


Inspecting the markup language of one of the broken links reveals the following:


< a rel="nofollow" target="_blank" href="http : // delonline . us / 2e" > http : // delonline . us / 2e< / a >...


The link display value has become the definition for the hyperlink in the href tag. The ellipsis is no longer part of the markup text and now appears outside the delimiters. Clearly the abbreviated short URLs are mishandled by "Edit Comment". That is the problem.

 

It should be noted that while I couldn't seem to render a short URL for tinyurl .com in my test here, that may have been a blessing. Looking at my old comments, I see that tinyurl is also displayed in abbreviated form and would have probably been broken too.


Hope this additional information helps.

This issue should now be fixed. Please let us know.


Thanks!

It's still broken. I'm creating test comments at the link below...


https://seekingalpha.com/filing/3803278#comment-77204377


Ampersand and right angle bracket are still a problem. Links are also problematic. Look at my new notes above about links. Forgive the evolutionary development of ideas. It was all stream of consciousness. Start at the beginning and read through it. 


As a side note, I liked the old behavior where the original long form URL was restored by "Edit Comment". I'm not sure the new "Edit Comment" behavior for links is desirable even if you can fix it. Showing HTML markup language is a little technical. Consider that the target audience are investors and most of them are not HTML savvy. The only benefit I see is the ability to hide the actual hyperlink behind a more friendly description. But clearly that doesn't work right now and is actually causing the problem.


From the larger perspective of my original request for fixing moderated edits, we seem to be stepping backwards. Unless of course you think the bug we're trying to fix now is somehow related to the problem with moderated edits. Hopefully one step back will be followed by two steps forward. 


What is causing these recent anomalies with "Edit Comment"?  Let me know.

Daniel, did you miss this? An excerpt from a long note I made yesterday here...


When clicking on "Edit Comment", all links are pulled into the edit box with their associated markup language as described in one of my earlier notes. The markup language shows each short URL twice, once with the href tag and again at the end for the display value. The href and display are the same for all links except the two with ellipsis. Those two have the actual short URL only in the href tag and show the abbreviated URL with ellipsis at the end of the markup.


Example of a non-abbreviated short URL with spaces added to suppress conversion:

< a rel="nofollow" target="_blank" href="http : // read . bi / 2xhXwpZ" >http : // read . bi / 2xhXwpZ 

< / a  >


Example of an abbreviated short URL with spaces added to suppress conversion:

< a rel="nofollow" target="_blank" href="http : // delonline . us / 2ecQSbo" > http : // delonline . us / 2e...

< / a >


So far so good. The href tag values for all links are fine, which is the actual definition for the hyperlink. The display values for the two abbreviated links should not be a problem either. But ending the edit and posting back reveals the problem. The two abbreviated links are now broken. All the other links are fine. Clicking "Edit Comment" again pulls the links back into the edit box.

 

Inspecting the markup language of one of the broken links reveals the following:

< a rel="nofollow" target="_blank" href="http : // delonline . us / 2e" > http : // delonline . us / 2e< / a >...


The link display value has become the definition for the hyperlink in the href tag. The ellipsis is no longer part of the markup text and now appears outside the delimiters. Clearly the abbreviated short URLs are mishandled by "Edit Comment". 


That is the problem.

Daniel, here's a concise version...


"Edit Comment" mishandles hyperlink aliases. The alias clobbers the href value on update.


 < a href="URL location" > Alias < / a >


That's OK if alias defaults to the actual short URL. But a real alias, like an abbreviated URL with ellipsis, causes a problem.

Hi Daniel,


The recent bug with hyperlink aliases seems to be fixed. Also the & and > bugs are fixed too. Thanks.


P.S. - Please keep me posted on the status of my original request regarding the fix for moderated edits with links.

Hi,


This issue was fixed a while back. Have you had a recent incident with moderation where the links were broken?

Wow, I thought your Jan 3 reply was related to the recent crazy stuff with "Edit Comment". That's what we've been discussing for the last 10 days. Since the alias, &, > bugs were still present on Jan 4, it looked broken to me. I thought you were fixing it based on my new feedback. Only today did I see that the alias, &, > bugs were fixed. 


I had no idea you also fixed moderated edits. When the heck did you fix that?


If it was awhile ago, you should have told me sooner. Spontaneous discovery by me was out of the question. There's no way I would have risked fixing a typo with a moderated edit if it also trashed the links. Not worth it.


Thanks for letting me know now. I'll have to check it out and get back to you.



I've just verified that moderated edits with links have been fixed. Kudos.


Appreciate your effort. Thanks.

A lot has happened to moderated edits and "Edit Comment" over the last few months. I want to make a few observations for the record to establish a new baseline in case something breaks again.


"Edit Comment" works fine after the recent anomalies seen over the holidays. But the behavior has changed from October 2017 when my original request regarding moderated edits was submitted. Back then, clicking "Edit Comment" during the 15 minute grace period would expand short URLs or alias URLs back into full URLs in the edit box. Seeing the long URL was useful to identify links while editing. Upon updating, the long URLs would be converted back into short URLs or alias URLs. "Edit Comment" could be used repeatedly during the grace period and the URLs would convert back and forth between long and short/alias form without issue.


The new behavior with "Edit Comment" is as follows. Clicking "Edit Comment" during the 15 minute grace period does not expand short URLs or alias URLs back into their long form. Short URLs are left unchanged and alias URLs are shown in short form without alias in the edit box. Upon updating, short URLs stay unchanged and the previously aliased URLs are converted to new short URLs without alias. Subsequent use of "Edit Comment" during the grace period preserves short URLs without issue.


Moderated edits back in October 2017 would break links in comments. That was the reason for my original request. Fortunately that problem has been fixed now. Short URLs are preserved without issue. Interestingly, alias URLs are also preserved without issue or further conversion to non-alias short form. 


It is noteworthy that moderated edits preserve aliases while "Edit Comment" during the grace period converts all alias URLs into new short URLs. Apparently moderators have a different user interface to account for this alternate behavior. Inconsistent handling of data across different interfaces can sometimes be a source of problems. Fortunately this is not the case here.


Well, that's about it.  Hopefully we'll never have to revisit this subject.