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Why do users use @ ("commercial at," or "at sign") in their comments?
Does it actually route the comment to the name provided after the @?
What is the right format of using it?

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Mentioned here: meta.stackexchange.com/questions/5961/… – random Sep 15 '09 at 6:44
    
@ is pronounced as at. Does it make sense now? :) – BalusC Jan 17 '10 at 3:17
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possible duplicate of How do comment replies work? – Jon Seigel May 9 '10 at 21:04

It's just a convention of referring specifically to a user within the stream of comments.

Twitter maxed it out popularity-wise, but it's been lingering mainly on blog comments where you would have the other commenters talking to each other and not being in a threaded view.

A recently completed feature request now means that the convention does something:

Normally, you only get notified of comments when you own the post.

You will now get notified of any comments that refer to you by @username in a comment, even if you do not own the post.

Rules:

  1. Only applies to other people in the comments that you are commenting on.

  2. Response must include @username that you are referring to, where "username" is a reasonable match to the user's current display name (as seen in the comments above yours).

  3. There must be a starts-with, case insensitive match of at least THREE characters to the displayname. So @a and @ab will never match anyone or anything.

  4. Spaces cannot be used to match, so if the person's display name is "Peter Smith" then just use @peter to match.

  5. Matching is performed in reverse chronological order, so if there are five people named "John" in the comments, writing "hey @john, have you considered apples?" will match the most recent John to comment.

  6. Only one person can be replied to at a time in a comment. The first one "in" wins.

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If I post a comment to an answer on SO or MSO with the @Name symbol will the Name person be notified about it? – Kevin Boyd Sep 15 '09 at 6:44
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No, they won't. Not unless you're posting under their post. – random Sep 15 '09 at 6:45
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@AeonFlux - This example will not show up in your recent comments as linked by the envelope up top. – random Sep 15 '09 at 6:47
    
yeah it didn't, so we have to keep polling our answers to see new comments! that's cumbersome... no way of getting alerts on new comments? – Kevin Boyd Sep 15 '09 at 6:50
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Self-poll yes. There's been requests here and there to allow for you to be notified in a same vein. One such is of all the comments on posts you've posted: meta.stackexchange.com/questions/1093/… (post) – random Sep 15 '09 at 6:57
    
What happens if I @myself? – deleted Jan 17 '10 at 2:55
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@Isaac Nothing will happen. – random Jan 17 '10 at 2:58

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