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December 17, 2005 12:03 AM

Broken: Denver Post 'email article' option

Denver2_1DenverLaura S. Creekmore observes:

In The Denver Post online, when you are trying to email someone an article, it states that your message accompanying the article can be "100 characters maximum" (which is pretty short in my opinion).

The problem is that the input box doesn't alert you when you have typed over 100 characters. It lets you type over 100 characters. Then, when you click to send the message, it clears the whole form and then alerts you that you have typed more than 100 characters.

I shouldn't have to be counting letters as I type.


Just put a character counter under the text box, problem solved.

Posted by: Fuzzy at December 17, 2005 09:07 AM

Not having a counter is bad enough but CLEARING the form after you have written so pithily is maddening! Even if they're going to give you an error message, they don't need to clear the form. I think it's an evil plot to discourage editorial comments.

Posted by: Lady Jane at December 17, 2005 09:27 AM

I recently went to a company's career site to enter my resume. They limited the resume field to 1,600 characters with spaces! My resume is two full pages, and it's around 4,800 characters. That means they want people to reduce their resume to about half a page.

I had to painstakingly reduce my resume, line by line, and get the character count *after* I submitted each time. There was no counter on the page. ARGH! It took me about 15 minutes and 10 tries to get this right.

I wish I could remember which company's site it was! They're all so bad, it's hard to keep them straight.

Posted by: Dawn N at December 17, 2005 10:39 AM

Does anybody know what the reason is for having these arbitrary limits in the first place?

Posted by: Felix at December 17, 2005 11:07 AM

Usually the restriction is due to a database being set up with a character array field of a limited amount of characters rather than a general text field with no such limitation.

Also, it is very easy to code a textbox to have a maximum size in HTML. You have probably seen plenty of text fields that will not let you type once you hit the end. No need for a fancy counter.

They also shouldn't make the field so large that it is inviting for several lines of text.

Posted by: Grant Hutchins at December 17, 2005 02:12 PM

Definately broken. And 100 characters?!?! That's even shorter than a text message, and I thought those were too short!

Posted by: Chris B at December 17, 2005 02:23 PM

_@_v - that 100 character limit as expressed in ascii snails....






_@_v - looks pretty paltry...

Posted by: she-snailie_@_v at December 18, 2005 12:53 AM

A site should never allow you to do something it's not going to let you do. :S

Posted by: Pyotr at December 18, 2005 03:35 AM

That's just plain WRONG! Definitely broken.

Posted by: ambrocked at December 18, 2005 03:21 PM

Glad to see this hasn't (yet) attracted any "not broken" apologists.

If you suspect you will be afoul of the limit you might be able to copy your message to clipboard before you send it, so that if it is too long, you don't have to retype it. But that is not a good excuse to have the website be so broken in the first place.

Posted by: pat at December 18, 2005 04:22 PM

Y'know what else is broken - that little box a few lines under this message that says "Remember personal info?" I can't tell you how many times I've clicked on it, with no effect.

It's like a website analog of the faux memory chip that has been around for a while, described in a datasheet as a "write only memory."

Posted by: me at December 18, 2005 04:28 PM

me, 'Remember personal info' only works if you have cookies enabled.

Posted by: Zarel at December 18, 2005 07:34 PM

The gift card form for does the same thing for the "Add a Message" section, except it doesn't clear the form. Instead, it tells you there's an error, and places a mysterious red asterisk near the box. They have enough money to fix that... :)

Posted by: Alex at December 18, 2005 10:22 PM

I learned the hard way to type any lengthy messages in Notepad first, then paste into the message box. For word limits I paste the message into Word, then go to Properties for a word or character count.

It's sometimes tedious and frustrating, but not as much as having to do everything over.

Posted by: silas at December 18, 2005 11:22 PM


tools>word count is faster than going to properties. or hit alt, T, W to do it in an instant.

Posted by: gmangw at December 19, 2005 12:06 AM

double your pleasure here: my own experience

Posted by: Eddie at December 19, 2005 08:50 AM

So far this comment is 42 characters long. Wait, now it's 76 characters long. Damn. I'm running out of roo

Posted by: GMoney at December 19, 2005 01:36 PM

"It appears to be an evil plot to discourage editorial comments."

Not to say this isn't broken, but it could just be the result of forgetfulness on the part of the developers. This is a CGI script, meaning that the server reads your comment, checks to see if it is shorter than 100 characters, then sends you the HTML form back with the error message if it isn't. Since your comments are not included in the HTML code of the form, it is easier (for the developers) to send the original form back with the error message than to write the user's text in the form. In most CGI scripting languages such a detail is very small in the code and could easily have been overlooked.

Posted by: anonymous at December 19, 2005 02:20 PM

anonymous wrote:

" could just be the result of forgetfulness on the part of the developers.In most CGI scripting languages such a detail is very small in the code and could easily have been overlooked."

But that's just the type of behavior that constitutes brokeness. Failure to properly test your code is failure to complete the job.

gmangw, thanks for the Word tip.

Posted by: silas at December 19, 2005 04:56 PM

I was on one of those websites where you make a profile (either myspace or blogspot, I can't remember which, but it was very well known) and they did the same thing! Without a counter, I typed in around 800 words and they cleared it and informed me that it could only be fifty CHARACTERS. I didn't even notice that requirement on the page! I hadn't Ctrl+C'd it and had to retype it in fifty letters.

Posted by: grant0 at December 19, 2005 05:39 PM


I was just questioning Lady Jane's comment that it was an "evil plot". I wasn't saying that it wasn't broken.

Posted by: anonymous at December 19, 2005 05:48 PM

btw, this is definitely broken, just not necessarily an evil plot.

Posted by: anonymous at December 19, 2005 06:03 PM

"The problem is that the input box doesn't alert you when you have typed over 100 characters."

I have never seen this behaviour of alerting a user when they have exceeded a limit without the user first submitting the entry.

Posted by: undefined at December 21, 2005 11:58 AM

I recently saw a really neat way to address the problem.

While typing in a text box a few characters over, the cursor backs over the excess characters, like magic! And giving you instant feedback, to help you figure out what will fit.

Can anyone tell me how they did that?

Posted by: Jojo at December 23, 2005 11:39 PM

The Post news content is pretty good. It's Website is not equal. Good luck finding a story that is more than a day or two old. The venerable Post needs to step into the 21st Century with its online technology.

Posted by: Spanky at December 25, 2005 10:29 PM

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