I have started frequenting the stats stackexchange site, and I found a very helpful message when I tried to comment on a post:

Comments use mini-Markdown formatting: [link](http://example.com) _italic_ **bold** `code`. The post author will always be notified of your comment. To also notify a previous commenter, mention their user name: @peter or @PeterSmith will both work. Learn moreā€¦

I wish I had known this earlier! Can we make our comments section have this kind of pop-up message? I also just figured out that you can "escape" the markdown formats with a backslash.

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The "help" button that appears when you want to post a comment was implemented after this request, while on this question you can see what you can or cannot write in comments. I think there is all you need to know. :) Don't worry about discovering things "over time", if you have the need to know things before bumping into them, just ask other more experienced users or ask here in Meta (make sure to check someone didn't ask it already).

By the way, it's not that comments are discouraged. If this was true, comments would simply be removed. What is discouraged is the wrong use of comments. The fact is that "comments are designed to be second class". It's not just a single person's thing; it's the SE policy.

  • If you want to say something relevant to the question, then it might be an answer (if it answers the question);
  • If it's relevant to an answer/question (but in the second case, it doesn't answer the question), you can post a comment.
  • If you want an extended discussion (10+ comments, I'd say... Not aware of a policy on this) with someone, invite them to chat. Why don't make use of this tool?
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Escape markdown with a backlash? That is new to me! Cool.

I know this simple markdown is possible in comments; but Jeff specifically wants to discourage people from using comments, so I gathered the absence of markdown buttons was intentional. I disagree with this policy, by the way; and perhaps it can be changed at last now that Jeff is leaving.

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