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We had a migrated question today in whose comments one user @-replied to another. The target user exists on both the source and the target site but has chosen different usernames. That broke the comment thread (edited now); the comment owner was transcribed correctly, but not the @-replies.

I suggest that question migration should check whether targets of @-replies switch names and rewrite accordingly.

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1 Answer 1

up vote 6 down vote accepted

If you use different names - on a single site at different times, or on multiple sites simultaneously - you're asking for trouble. No matter how much work is put into supporting this, it will be confusing to people who interact with you on multiple sites or different times.

IMHO, there are entirely too many edge cases when it comes to comment notifications to properly re-write them - in particular, ambiguous names (or partial names) can't be re-written with any reliability.

If you want your comment replies to remain clear over time, don't change your name and use the same name on all sites. Alternately, if having multiple names is important to you, accept that this will cause some amount of confusion.

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Why does the network support using different names on different sites if it is so much trouble? –  Raphael Jun 13 '12 at 7:37
    
@Raphael: part of the reason is historical, and part of it is simply that some folks want to have different handles in different communities. If having the identity/identities that you want are more important to you than avoiding the occasional inconvenience of folks not knowing who you are elsewhere, that's your decision to make. Personally, I'm happy that SE continues to support this - but I don't think the system needs to bend over backwards in doing so. Far more generally useful would be simply making alternate names more visible (on, say, the Accounts page). –  Shog9 Jun 13 '12 at 14:45
    
Are users even warned that choosing different names can cause problems (when they start doing so)? Btw, I take it that if I rename my account, all old @-replies break? That's bad, seriously, because people tend to change their online appearance over the years. Comment threads tend to lose their importance over time, but some don't (esp. on Meta). –  Raphael Jun 13 '12 at 20:11
    
There's no explicit warning on this, since for the vast majority of users it simply doesn't apply. Although name-changes are prevented from occurring more than once every 30 days. Keep in mind, for a good part of the history of this feature "@-replies" were merely a social construct - there is some underlying support in the infrastructure for them now, but automatically fixing up past responses would be a major undertaking (and to support something we try to discourage in the first place!) –  Shog9 Jun 17 '12 at 21:18
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