The Elements of Style: A Guide To Commenting

Have you ever read a comment and wondered what that funky font is? What that black bar is? How you make a cool block quote? A list? Some people really like lists, numbered or otherwise.

You list lovers are in luck! You other people are in luck too.

I present to you The Elements of Style: A Guide To Commenting, An Introduction To The Basics Of Commenting, Part I, Volume I, First Edition, A Working Paper.

Navigation: Sextants Not Required

Comments with a yellow background are "unread" comments. They were posted after you last opened the page. The best way to work through new comments is to press "z." Pressing "z" will scroll you to the oldest unread comment. Pressing it again will mark that comment as read by removing the yellow background. It will also scroll you to the second oldest unread comment. Rinse, wash, repeat. If you are on a mobile device, just press "Next Unread." Technology does make things easier sometimes.

Hey, look! The comment box! There's our friend, "z," and some other helpful stuff.


That thing above that Ed* hates is the Subject line. That's the bigger bold text in a posted comment. If you click anywhere on the subject of a posted comment, that comment and any replies to it will collapse. Don't let Ed's* hate fool you, subjects are actually helpful. Without the subject, you collapse a comment by clicking on the thing on the left side of the comment that looks like this : ╲╱ It will show up when you scroll your cursor near the left side of a comment.

Helpful though they may be, you don't need a subject. You also don't need to put anything the Message box, which is the body of your comment. You do have to put a least something in one of them though. No blank comments allowed.

Text Basics: Hey it's just like Word!

Below are your basic text tools. Unless you are over the age of 50 or 60, you'll struggle in the modern world if you can't do these. It's just like your word processor.


Just highlight what you want to be bold, in italics, stricken asunder with strikethrough, etc. and click the corresponding symbol.

The Fun Stuff: This Will Change Your Life

Below are the tools that tend to trip people up. Master these and you too can post images that move!


Insert Image: Because sometimes words just aren't enough

If you want to insert an image, click on the Image icon. A window will pop up that prompts you to enter a source. The source is the web address or URL of the image. As a general rule of thumb, it should start like a normal web address and end with something like .jpg, .png, .tif, .bmp, or .gif. Gifs are the image files that can move. They're super fun.

If you are having trouble finding the image's URL, right click on the image (or press and hold the image on a touchscreen). In the list that pops up, there should be something like "Copy image location," "Copy image URL," or the equivalent, depending on your browser. Select that.

When you have your URL copied, click the Image icon. Paste the URL into the Source popup window. You can do that with CRTL+V, right click and paste, or press, hold, and paste. You have to be careful when you do this because the powers that be were nice enough to leave "http://" in the prompt for you. Either delete that before you paste or make sure it is highlighted and then paste over it. Click OK.

I know you are excited that you got this far, but not so fast, my friend. This is me, on behalf of the moderators, requiring you to click PREVIEW before you post. If your image is big, don't post it. The mods don't like big images. My slow internet doesn't like big images. The comment system doesn't like big images. Don't post big images.

"But what if I really like that big image?" you ask. Don't worry, you can still post it, but smaller. There are multiple ways to do this, but this is the way I do it. After you click the Image icon, paste your URL, and click OK, something like this will be inserted into your comment:

  • img src="" alt="" /

Your text will be bookended with the the less than and greater than symbols, I can't put that here because it would post the image. The bold part is the key (I bolded it for your benefit, it won't be bold for you). Replace alt with width. Put 400 in between the "". When you are done, it will look like this:

  • img src="" width="400" /

That makes the picture have a width of 400 pixels and adjusts the height so the proportions are the same as the original. A width of 400 is the recommended maximum width. You can go smaller, especially with Gifs or tall images, but that is up to you.

Some images are narrower than 400 pixels already. You can either eyeball it and risk the wrath of the mods or just preview it like I told you to, alter the width, preview it again, and see if it got bigger. If it got bigger, press CTRL+Z to undo your change or just delete, start over, and don't alter the width.

Link: Danger! They make you leave TLO!

Link is a similar process to inserting an image. In your comment, highlight the text you want to turn into a link and click the Link icon. Then paste the URL you want to link into the prompt. Click OK. You're done.

If you enjoy being difficult, you can click the Link icon first. Insert your URL, click OK, and it will insert text into your comment like this:

  • a href="img src="" alt="" /" Your text to link here /a

I removed the less than and greater than symbols again. Replace the text that says Your text to link here with the text you want turn into a link. Again, clicking PREVIEW will save you a lot of embarrassment, if messing up a link is the kind of thing that embarrasses you.

Spoiler: Misnomer, they spoil nothing.

The spoiler is that black bar that you can't seem to figure out so you just ignore it (you know who you are). You shouldn't ignore them though. They have fun things hidden away behind them, like Reus.

To reveal what is behind a spoiler, move your cursor over the black bar. Tada! Move your cursor away and the black bar returns. Spoilers don't work as well on touchscreen devices. To reveal what is behind the spoiler with a touchscreen, press the black bar. The black bar probably won't come back for you technologically advanced people when you stop pressing it. Sometimes technology makes things worse.

To post a spoiler, highlight the text you want to hide and click the Spoiler icon. Done. I don't even want to talk to you if you want to be difficult about this, but if you click Spoiler first, it is the same process for the difficult people's way of posting links. Only difference is you replace Spoiler text here this time.

Miscellaneous: TLO Does What It Wants

Irony: Ironic, isn't it?

You've probably noticed people saying things that are just plain wrong, dumb, or not what you would expect them to say. It's called irony. It's funny.

Some people on TLO choose to use a crutch for their humor because communicating on the internet is hard and stuff. Those people use a different font to denote irony or when they don't mean what they typed.

The irony font looks kind of like this, but not really.

It will be the font that looks different than the normal font.

To make the irony font, type this symbol, @, on either side of the text you want in the irony font. You would type it into your comment like so:


Interacting with other comments: Because reply fails are the worst!

The bottom of each comment will contain this:

If you click on the author's name, it brings you to their profile page. We'll save that for a later volume.

If you click on the date, it brings you back to the same comment. How fun! Right click it, select Copy Link Location, or the equivalent, and then you can Link directly to that comment using the process explained above.

If you click reply, you can post a comment underneath that original comment. It is indented so you know it is a reply and will collapse if you collapse the original comment.

If you click rec or the star to the left of it, a link to the comment will appear on your profile page under the "Recommended" heading (that's what rec is short for). If five people "rec" a comment, the background of the comment turns green. It's fun to green comments. AJ and Jeremy like to rec comments, but even they can't rec a comment more than once, nor can you. You can only rec and un-rec a comment.

flag is special. You only click flag or the flag to the left of it if you would like to report the comment to the moderators. Please do not take this lightly. Please see the Community Guidelines to help determine what might qualify for a flag.

What's next?

If you need clarification on anything above, please test out your commenting skills and comment below. If you are on another thread and need help, just ask. People on TLO are nice. They will help you.

If I left out something you wanted to learn, you'll have to wait for Part II. Just kidding. See? I didn't need a special font for that. Ask any questions in a comment below.

Part II, if there ever is one, will feature such oddities as: superscript, fun text symbols, and other stuff I can't think of now.

Are you happy now, campion? This was all your fault. Everyone, blame campion for this.


*Ed is Noel

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