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(A screenshot. It depicts a Web page with two columns of content. The left-hand column contains the very bottom of an answer, identified in the screenshot as answer number 27983, with nine comments on it. The right-hand column contains a list of some hot questions from the Stack Exchange network. Some of the comments overflow the left-hand column into the right-hand column, overlap some of the hot network questions' titles, and cause both the comments and the question titles to be illegible.)

I am using Mozilla/5.0 (Windows NT 6.1; WOW64; rv:44.0) Gecko/20100101 Firefox/44.0 with a 1536×731-pixel browser window.

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As Ilmari Karonen wrote,

This is a pretty common display bug that can be triggered in many ways: silly Unicode tricks, long code blocks, broken MathJax, missing MathJax delimiters, changing the font size in Chrome or in Firefox, etc. It was first reported a long time ago, and a server-side kluge was added to "fix" it (occasionally breaking code embedded in comments or very long URLs as a side effect), but it didn't really solve the problem completely.

The overly long formula in Brian J's comment is the immediate cause here. You can notice that the "server-side kluge" (insertion of zero-width characters) had some effect there, breaking two of the math operators. But it didn't save the layout of the page, since MathJax then rendered the formula according to its own linebreak logic.

Solution:

  1. Don't put overly long formulas into comments. Split them in several if necessary: $\arctan \sec$ $\arctan \sec$ $\arctan \sec$...
  2. If someone else does the above and breaks the page layout, flag the comment and ask a moderator to edit. (Assuming it's a valuable comment, otherwise deleting is easier. The user, if they are still around, can delete on their own but cannot edit beyond the 5-minute period.)
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