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Once in a while you wish to address a comment to someone in particular, so you type @ and then you pause ... because the username is l̕aͨŵƦȆ̴̟̟͙̞ͩ͌͝ƞCͭ̏ȇ ƇhƐȓ0nè or Ωmega.

Short of using copy-paste to get their username right (which is even more cumbersome on a mobile device), is there another way around this? In a few cases I've noticed that the system will attempt to "promote" a comment to a reply, but I'm not sure if that's very reliable.

Should user names at least start with a normal letter?

Update

The auto-complete feature seems to normalize Zalgo'ish usernames, so typing the letter L will trigger the suggestions as expected; this is of course knowing that the name actually spells "lawrence", which may not always be obvious.

Knowing the way of the symbol ninja would surely help to type Ω using only the elbows as well, but not everyone is blessed with the same keyboard layout.

Suggestion

It would be nice to have a reply feature like this:

reply feature proposal

When ↳ reply is clicked, it will automatically populate the comment box with @username pre-filled in.

Additional notes

To clarify, I'm not suggesting to put the "reply" on all comments, as proposed here, because in most cases the owner of a post is already notified of a new comment; this would strictly be to effect cross-commenter communication.

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If you're on a mac, just try Alting some keys. You might get the character :). –  Linuxios Feb 19 '13 at 0:29
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Your keyboard doesn't have a key ?! –  Josh Caswell Feb 19 '13 at 0:29
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It's not fun even on a Mac. Autocomplete garbles the hell out of the name into a tiny space. –  Makoto Feb 19 '13 at 0:31
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Using usernames like that is their way of muting comment notifications. If they wanted comments, they'd use a name people would know how to type. –  Servy Feb 19 '13 at 3:06
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Just don't talk to these people. –  Wesley Murch Feb 19 '13 at 3:23
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It would be nice if you could just click on the username in the comments to start a new reply with the appropriate @ syntax pre-populated. –  Mufaka Feb 19 '13 at 4:03
    
That screenshots mockup needs a nice, red, freehand circle. And an arrow. –  J. Steen Feb 19 '13 at 8:43
    
Are there any restrictions on what characters can appear in a username? What about full-width exclamation marks? –  Kerrek SB Feb 19 '13 at 8:59
    
@J.Steen I suck at freehand drawing, so a elliptical 2px stroke is the end-result =p –  Jack Feb 19 '13 at 9:08
    
@KerrekSB Display names can contain letters, digits, spaces, apostrophes, and dashes. "Letter" in that case includes a lot of unicode goodness though. –  balpha Feb 19 '13 at 9:17
    
@Jack Sucking at freehand drawing is kind of the point. ;) Nice job though. Highlights do help. I had trouble spotting that the first time around. I did, eventually, and then I suggested the circle! –  J. Steen Feb 19 '13 at 9:19
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ޤo͛ͫƦR̘̝̙ͤ͂̾̆Y̷̙ ̒ͩͣ̅̓͒̀ͤ̂͂̄̊҉̶̝̗̦͡͠ ƒoȓ қiÇK͠1n͘G҉ ̛​͟uP̯͍̭ ̒ͩͣ̅̓͒̀ͤ̂͂̄̊҉̶̝̗̦͡͠ Á s҉7i͡N̐kͫ͏. ;p –  l̕aͨŵƦȆ̴̟̟͙̞ͩ͌͝ƞCͭ̏ȇ ƇhƐȓ0nè Feb 19 '13 at 19:00
    
@Lawrence No worries, I was gonna write the question before anyway, but your display name was added for kicks :) –  Jack Feb 19 '13 at 23:11
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@hims hey and what if Jack has a time machine? ;-) –  Shadow Wizard Mar 13 '13 at 9:03
    
@Jack answer already in the answer and so it should stay... –  amanaP lanaC A nalP A naM A Jun 21 '13 at 13:06

2 Answers 2

up vote 43 down vote accepted

I've been meaning to make this change for a while, so this was a good nudge to finally do it:

From the next build on, if a comment thread contains a comment by a user whose name starts with a non-ASCII letter, then just typing @ will bring the tab completer up with that name:

screen shot of the tab completer offering a name that does not start with an ASCII letter

If all reply candidates start with "normal" letters (or numbers), then the tab completer behavior is unchanged; it will only start suggesting once you've typed an additional letter.

If there are two or more reply candidates starting with a non-ASCII letter, they will be listed side by side after just typing @.

Note that this will not offer you l̕aͨŵƦȆ̴̟̟͙̞ͩ͌͝ƞCͭ̏ȇ ƇhƐȓ0nè – that name starts with a nice and friendly lowercase "L".

Regarding your "click to reply" idea: That has been declined previously. I'm still considering your discussion/request to be completed because of the above change.

If you really want reply links, I've create a user script a long time ago that gives you just that. With the advent of the tab completer, I have actually stopped using it myself, but it should still work.

share|improve this answer
    
Thanks! Though, I wouldn't want to have "reply" links everywhere, because in many cases they would not be necessary; e.g. comments of the poster wouldn't need it. I've added that clarification in the question as well. –  Jack Feb 19 '13 at 9:30
    
Awesome, I always wondered how to deal with those names as copying was a big headache! –  Shadow Wizard Feb 25 '13 at 8:34
    
This is really great, but it does not work in chat :(. Feature request is here. –  Lord_Farin Jun 24 '13 at 19:03

I followed your link to Lawrence's profile and from there to an answer of his. I clicked Add Comment and typed @l whereupon the autocomplete offered me his whole name.

For Ωmega I couldn't find a letter to type that triggered the autocomplete - I expect copy and paste would work.

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Then maybe, at least the first letter should be '''normal''' (I know the word is inappropriate but I think you understand what I mean, common … maybe?) –  JeromeJ Feb 19 '13 at 0:48
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Are you looking for "ASCII"? –  cpast Feb 19 '13 at 1:03
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@cpast it's not as restrictive as that. The first letter of l̕aͨŵƦȆ̴̟̟͙̞ͩ͌͝ƞCͭ̏ȇ ƇhƐȓ0nè is not plain text (there's some sort of diacritic over the l) but typing an l works for autocomplete. –  Kate Gregory Feb 19 '13 at 1:11
    
Just as another data point, typing Ω, which is available under ⌥-Z on an Apple US keyboard (and I'm sure there's some way to type it on other systems, even if it's awkward), brings up the autocompletion for Ωmega. –  Josh Caswell Feb 19 '13 at 2:08
    
@JoshCaswell if I copy/paste Ω, and start typing @Ω into an answer where Ωmega participated this doesn't bring up the autocompletion for me (but it should)(I'm on Windows). –  JeromeJ Feb 19 '13 at 2:39
    
@JeromeJ: Copy-paste also works for me. Make sure you are doing this on a post where it is not the case that Ωmega is the post owner and only one other person has commented. I used stackoverflow.com/questions/14307575 for testing. –  Josh Caswell Feb 19 '13 at 2:44
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@KateGregory: Although it appears that way, it is really a plain "l", lowercase "L". Full name is: l ` a ͨ ŵ Ʀ Ȇ ̴ ̟ ̟ ͙ ̞ ͩ ͌ ͝ ƞ C ͭ ̏ ȇ Ƈ h Ɛ ȓ 0 n è (had to wrap each char in code backticks to get individual characters to appear here.) –  Wesley Murch Feb 19 '13 at 3:29
    
The autocomplete may sort of work, but does the actual reply-mechanism? Will it ping the user or is there a mismatch when the @username is, fundamentally, different from the actual username? –  J. Steen Feb 19 '13 at 8:45

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