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I have a comment form, in which I want to avoid spam by requiring at least 15 characters. So far my users have been confused and assumed that it meant you could only write 15 characters maximum.

The UI is as follows:

enter image description here

This number updates as you write and goes down one by one per letter.

Now, once you write 15 characters the warning disappears and you can post the comment. Unfortunately, as I said people think this means that there is a limit of maximum characters.

How do I convey that it's minimum, not maximum?

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The problem you might be facing could be in the wording of the message. The "to go" could be understood as to publish so some of your users, non english native probably, might be understanding "15 more characters to publish" not "15 more characters to BE ABLE publish". You could also make the "minimum" explicit so the user has no doubt. Some ideas:

  • "15 characters minimum, you still need to enter 11" (second number auto updates)
  • "15 more characters to be able to publish"
  • "You need to enter 15 characters minimum" (This message might disappear after those 15 characters are entered)
  • It already does this. They still get confused. – Sebastian Olsen Jan 4 '17 at 17:17
  • Do you know if the confusion comes from before starting to write or even after typing something? – Alvaro Jan 4 '17 at 17:18
  • The error does not show before the user presses the submit button and the form validation logic starts. – Sebastian Olsen Jan 4 '17 at 17:19
  • I mean the user confusion not the validation error message :) – Alvaro Jan 4 '17 at 17:20
  • Yes they get confused after clicking the submit button, thinking that they wrote too much. – Sebastian Olsen Jan 4 '17 at 17:22
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Stack exchange commenting already implements something like this for comments. Not sure how well it translates, but maybe consider doing something similar for the empty state? enter image description here

enter image description here

enter image description here

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Because people are pretty good at ignoring - at not even seeing - instructional text, I usually like to combine text with visual cues.

Twitter highlights the characters that exceed their 140-char limit. What might work is the opposite: highlight the characters until your minimum is reached.

Textfield Example

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