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Currently, if I attempt to notify a user who is not eligible for notification (i.e., they haven't commented, edited, or done something in this list), the failure is completely silent. I, the comment poster, never know that the user wasn't notified. I propose that the failure be more explicit, and that the comment either fail or that a notice is placed near the comment while it's being typed if the notify attempt will fail. Something like this (which I just hacked together in 2 min using Firebug, so Don't Judge Me, Bro™):

Suggested idea for explicit showing of failed user notification

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One way this might backfire is that: users who are trying to PM "their own personal tech support" will now know to seek out a different post for an even more inappropriate comment. Might be better to let them get frustrated at the lack of response -- sort of like a mini "Hell ban". –  Awesome Poodles Feb 27 '12 at 2:57
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Yeah, but for users (like me) who just assume the system always works, it's pretty confusing. –  eykanal Feb 27 '12 at 2:58
    
Ah, but you see, for the rare case when an innocent user is caught unawares, your example shows that a friendly, neighborhood mod stepped in and showed them the light. (^_^) –  Awesome Poodles Feb 27 '12 at 3:02
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Interesting idea, but I'm not sure that this happens all that often. @-addressing someone is only treated as a notification in specific cases and it's not guaranteed that using @ in other contexts is actually an attempt to notify a user or just some text that happens to have an @ in it. –  Anna Lear Feb 27 '12 at 4:54
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Wow, I didn't even know the comment @ comments didn't work sometimes. –  Ben Brocka Feb 27 '12 at 8:19
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I'm not sure how much this is browser-oriented, but I think that there is correlation between the auto-completion when you type "@" and if the user will be notified (i.e. no completion = no notification). –  Charles Morisset Feb 27 '12 at 9:57
    
@CharlesMorisset: Don't think so. If you are posting comments and it's just you and the OP, the auto completion will not fire, but the OP still gets notified. –  Awesome Poodles Feb 27 '12 at 10:10
    
@BrockAdams Yes, you're right, the OP (of the question or answer on which the comment thread is) will always receive notification. But for the other users, I guess you need the completion. Also, it seems that you can only one completion per comment. Does that mean that there will be only one notification per comment? –  Charles Morisset Feb 27 '12 at 10:13
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@CharlesMorisset, Yes there is only one reply per comment (not counting Q OP and A OP (if applicable) ). This sad state of affairs is "by design" despite much clamoring for improvement. –  Awesome Poodles Feb 27 '12 at 10:18
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@BrockAdams I have the feeling that SE is somehow extremely conservative on the subject. Although I can understand the potential misuse and abuse having easier inter-users communications, I'm sure they have enough talented developers to come up with a practical, safe and non-conservative solution. –  Charles Morisset Feb 27 '12 at 10:25
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I'd prefer linkification of @notifications. This has the positive side effect that you can see that a notification didn't work, because it wasn't turned into a link. –  CodesInChaos Feb 27 '12 at 11:45
    
@CodeInChaos - That's fine as well, so long as the failure isn't silent. –  eykanal Feb 27 '12 at 13:04
    
@CharlesMorisset - I agree with you re: conservative, and I'm very curious why. –  eykanal Feb 27 '12 at 13:05

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