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In a comment, [english.SE] creates a link to english.stackexchange.com (see comment below). In a post (question or answer) it does not. This is the same with [ask] and other such shortcuts.

That's awfully confusing. Although it's rare to need that in a post, it should be consistent.

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  • English Language & Usage is a link to EL&U. Mi Yodeya is a link to Mi Yodeya. – Charles Koppelman Jun 11 '13 at 16:41
  • This is true of the other shortcuts too, right? E.g. edit (edit), ask (How to Ask), and the old faq links (left out here because faq->help is in transition now). – Monica Cellio Jun 11 '13 at 16:51
  • This is status-bydesign, and if you're reporting a bug in the software then that's how it's going to be marked, and ignored. I suggest you retag it feature-request instead if you are requesting a change. – msh210 Jun 11 '13 at 16:51
  • @MonicaCellio I'm not sure what edit would mean in an answer post. Edit this answer? Edit the question? And edit in a question seems strange. – Charles Koppelman Jun 11 '13 at 16:54
  • @CharlesKoppelman true -- I first reached for faq as my example and then thought better of it. But the broader point is that SE markdown has a bunch of shortcuts, not just the site-name ones, and I think it's the case that all work in comments and none work in posts. While some don't make sense in posts, the implementation would likely be all-or-none, not selective. – Monica Cellio Jun 11 '13 at 16:56
  • @MonicaCellio perhaps. I'd rather let a SE product manager tell me that. – Charles Koppelman Jun 11 '13 at 17:00
  • Sure, I can't speak for either their plans or their software design. (And I hadn't noticed the tag change from bug to feature-request, sorry.) – Monica Cellio Jun 11 '13 at 17:01
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The reasons, I guess, to have the shortcut in comments is (a) that links to SE sites are much more common in comments than in posts on the main site (though this reason doesn't really apply to the Meta site) and (b) that comments have a low character limit, so shortcuts are very useful. That doesn't mean having the shortcuts available in posts would be bad: just that it's not as needed.

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Shortcuts are intended for comments as msh210 speculates. In posts, you have the benefit of the full blown editor and (unless writing a book) no real concerns about character limits. The shortcuts addressed the needs of people (mostly) being helpful to new users in comments like the following:

  • Your question would be more on topic for [site], I've flagged for migration for you
  • Please make sure you read our [guide on something]
  • Let's continue this in [chat]

.. and so forth. Consistency wasn't really an issue because folks that actually knew about the shortcuts knew that they only worked in comments.

I suppose that adding just in time help to tell people that if they try to use them in the editor wouldn't be a bad thing to do, but it really hasn't been a problem. We're very careful to not play with Markdown too much in the main editor - so unless there was a huge demand for it, I don't think they'd be added. The comment field is a bit different.

As we continue to launch sites that are run by communities more and more removed from the initial Stack Overflow audience, we're sure to find that suddenly, people are confused by things that (until that time) seemed perfectly logical to everyone. As that happens we may need to revisit this, but I don't think it's a problem just yet.

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