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Because changing the current @username from @userid (atleast internally) can reflect the changed username / handle easily.

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Self answering works in a differnt way. In the question part you write your question and you add an answer below in the Your Answer section – rekire Jan 30 '13 at 11:10
I mean, at least in the background they can be based on userid so that they won't break when user changes his username – TheWhiteRabbit Jan 30 '13 at 11:15
@TechExchange nothing breaks, the @ cause single notification to be sent once the comment was submitted, that's it. It has no further purpose. If the name later changes you just see @ followed by the old name but that does not break anything. What I mean is that it's not meant to act as "in reply to a certain comment". – Shadow Wizard Jan 30 '13 at 11:16
Well, I love the fact that username changes get archived that way. – Time Traveling Bobby Jan 30 '13 at 11:17
If there is some communication like as @ xxx mentioned and @ xxx changed to @yyy , meaning is broken isn't it – TheWhiteRabbit Jan 30 '13 at 11:18
@SulfurizedDemonbobby indeed, I often use this to track down deleted accounts to find out who it was! :) – Shadow Wizard Jan 30 '13 at 11:18

It's not that they can't, more so that they won't, and here's two reasons why, I think:

  • Comments are secondary citizens and often noise, in danger of deletion with no real posterity held,
  • and, given the above, it makes the extra overhead of doing so overkill.

There are other reasons, but mainly, considering them all together, there's no added value.

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