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I want to reference another user in my answer like I do in comments (@user). How can I do this?

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You can't. Why would you want to do this anyway? Singling out users/answers is bad for long term relevance, as answers get edited and deleted all of the time. – Richard J. Ross III Apr 3 '13 at 17:28
@RichardJ.RossIII because the answer is relevant to a comment on the question. – Mike Rylander Apr 3 '13 at 17:29
@MikeRylander in that case, reply to that comment on the question – yoozer8 Apr 3 '13 at 17:30
This is usually an indication that your answer isn't an answer. If it isn't a true answer to the question, you can expect it to get flagged, downvoted, possibly converted to a comment, but most likely just deleted. – Won't Apr 3 '13 at 21:37
@Won't what if I am quoting and expanding on an answer provided as a comment? Answers in comments don't show the question as 'answered'. – Mike Rylander Apr 3 '13 at 21:51
up vote 37 down vote accepted

You can reference another user using their name, and optionally by linking to a relevant question or answer that they wrote, or to their profile page.

This isn't the same as the @ reply used in comments, which actually isn't a reference to a user, but a reply to them. See How do comment @replies work? for more information about comment @ replies.

If your intent is to somehow notify a user that your answer is posted, that's not currently possible. The user who asked the question will be notified that an answer to their question was posted, but you can't specify other users to notify.

As far as replying to another answer: if what you're posting is a response to an answer by another user, it should be a comment on that answer (this will notify the user who posted the answer that they have a comment). You should only post an answer if it is, on its own, an answer to the question. Imagine if all other content on the page were gone and only the question and your response were left. If the page wouldn't make sense, or your response would lose meaning, then it is not an answer.

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Nitpick: I think it's super-pointless to link to user profile pages. And not only is it pointless, it puts the focus on the user, rather than on the content. We can now link to anything that has been posted to the site, whether question, answer, or comment. If you want to refer to something, link to the item itself, not the user. It's fine, however, to use the user's name as the link text. – Cody Gray Apr 4 '13 at 0:55
Note that I'm not advocating linking to a user; I'm simply pointing out that it is one way to refer to a specific user – yoozer8 Apr 4 '13 at 3:41
In some cases it can be appropriate to refer to a user, but these would all be meta cases. Questions like Who should our moderators be? (typical of any beta site) come to mind. I'm sure there are other questions that can be found where a reference to some user would be acceptable as (part of) and answer. – yoozer8 May 19 '13 at 0:08
@Jim I also agree with Etiquette issue. But, is this etiquette generally documented someplace in Stack? I posted a similar question asking for a reference: Etiquette Reference Request – elika kohen Nov 14 '15 at 19:39

At this time, a feature like that is not available, for several reasons:

  1. No for it has been made.
  2. Replying to another answer in your own can lead to rot - it's never to have your content dependent upon content that you cannot control.
  3. It could be seen as abused as a way to be malicious to a user, for example:
    • User A posts an answer, that is incorrect in some minor case/scenario, and gets 3 upvotes
    • User B posts an answer, which points out those flaws, and gets 5 upvotes
    • Over time, user A's answer gets downvoted because of the edge case that wasn't handled
    • ???
    • User B profits

That's not the type of behavior we want to encourage on this site - compare to the following real-world scenario:

  • Person A begins a speech
  • Person B (in audience) interrupts the speech and points out that the speaker mis-pronounced a word, shaming him publicly
  • Person A is afraid to ever speak publicly again, for fear of being humiliated

So, essentially, by singling out an answer or a user, you humiliate them in a public fashion. As we are a community that encourages all helpful answers, and the input we can get, we don't need people becoming upset at other users and leaving the site.

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I understand your reasoning. I personally wanted to give credit for an answer to someone who made a comment, but I can see the negative potential. – Mike Rylander Apr 3 '13 at 17:39
I definitely agree with your edge cases regarding the negative effects, but I also think there are plenty of positive benefits to offset them. My current use case involves a blog post someone wrote who is clearly a stack user. There's all sorts of concerns to be worked out but getting their direct input on an issue would be very valuable. – kraftydevil Oct 30 '14 at 15:07

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