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While I personally despise this change, so long as we have to live with it it needs to be made clearer to new users. I've seen people who are not aware of the @ syntax's affect on notifications get confused. For example, see the second comment on this answer.

If the system is going to edit the user's content for them in this way, then the user should be told what is going on.

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It could be another pen graphic (in red or something so it's a different color from the one placed there if the user edits) next to the comment to let the user know if it's been edited by the system. –  jonsca Jul 5 '11 at 7:05
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@Jonsca: I don't think that really solves the problem though. Then the new user just goes "what the hell is this red pen thing?" –  Billy ONeal Jul 5 '11 at 7:06
    
Just like we all went "What the hell is this pen thing next to my comment" the first time. It can have a mouseover to explain just like the "This comment was edited" you get from the black pen graphic. Anyway, just a quick suggestion that popped into my head. –  jonsca Jul 5 '11 at 7:08
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@Johnsca: An on-hover notification like that might work. Still think that might be misleading though. I would rather see a textual notification to the user. –  Billy ONeal Jul 5 '11 at 7:09
    
Why not both? No, just kidding, a text notification could be useful, it's just a little obtrusive is all. –  jonsca Jul 5 '11 at 7:11
    
I agree...send a notification about this, please. –  AJ. Jul 15 '11 at 0:54
    
I agree, the automated disappearance without explanation confused me repeatedly‌​. Visible change — for example, removal of white space — can help the user to learn. Invisible change — complete removal without explanation does nothing to help learning. –  Graham Perrin Aug 3 '11 at 5:20
    
@Graham try also to start a post with "Hi" and probably also "Hello" and see what happens. –  Shadow Wizard Aug 3 '11 at 6:22
    
@ShadowWizard hi, sorry, if that comment appeared ill-mannered or terse. I said please three times in the chat that preceded (linked from my previous comment), thanks three times, and a smiling goodbye. Here in Q&A I assumed that it's good form to not be too chatty/familiar in comments, especially with people I don't know personally — it's so often seen "not a discussion forum" etc. :-) –  Graham Perrin Aug 3 '11 at 9:34

2 Answers 2

This is a good idea to help mitigate confusion over a controversial change.

It seems like it would be pretty easy to do, and the same method as the Consider adding a comment to the question popup could be used. It's unobtrusive but noticable:

The @alert at the beginning of this comment was removed as it is unnecessary. See the comment help dialog (under the ADD COMMENT button) for more information.

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Upvoted, but the current help is wrong. The system undoes what the system (in the current help) tells the user to do. –  Graham Perrin Aug 3 '11 at 5:41
    
@graham no, the current comment help is correct. Try clicking the help link under the [add comment] button and read it yourself. –  Jeff Atwood Aug 3 '11 at 7:10
    
@Jeff hi, I did read help repeatedly before seeking help in meta chat. Both help areas are misleading. Inline help states: "… To also notify a previous commenter, mention their user name …". Clicking Learn more…, the Markdown help for Replying in comments makes very clear that I should mention the username, and make it clear who I am responding to. The person I replied to had a three-character username (the minimum), so I was repeatedly confused by the help. –  Graham Perrin Aug 3 '11 at 9:27
    
@Jeff sorry I think I realise my mistake. You were probably right to raise your voice! I was thinking of someone as a commenter — without noticing that the commenter was also the poster. Part of the problem for me (not perfect eyesight) is the pale blue text on white background at Ask Different. The lack of contrast bit me once before, in a different way. I'll mention the contrast issue away in that stack. Sincere apologies for the confusion. Still I do think a subtle hint/explanation at time of disappearance could reduce the risk of confusion :-) –  Graham Perrin Aug 3 '11 at 10:02
    

If you want to understand how comments work, there is already an on-screen display. Simply click the "help" link under the Add Comment button.

comment help link, expanded

Note that this help is pre-expanded by default for all new users, so it is effectively mandatory.

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But this help does not contain any hint that @peter is going to be removed, so it's not really relevant to Billy question. –  Shadow Wizard Jul 5 '11 at 7:20
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@Jeff Also the users that are confused are not necessarily new. In the example link that user had 10k rep. –  JNK Jul 5 '11 at 15:04
    
+1 - That actually solves my biggest issue. Would it be possible to link to something like this? meta.stackexchange.com/questions/97524/… –  Billy ONeal Jul 5 '11 at 23:04
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@billy sure we can add a "learn more" link –  Jeff Atwood Jul 6 '11 at 3:24
    
-1 — the visible help teaches the user to explicitly address the one commenter. The system inexplicably undoes what the system tells the user to do. An up for @ShadowWizard –  Graham Perrin Aug 3 '11 at 5:37
    
@graham try reading the screenshot again, the text was updated a while ago. "the post author will always be notified of your comment. –  Jeff Atwood Aug 3 '11 at 7:07
    
Maybe there's confusion — at least for me, maybe also for other relative newcomers — about what is a post, what is a comment. To me: this post is an answer authored by poster Jeff Attwood, a response to a post (the opening question) by poster Billy ONeal. Within this one post I see comments (not posts) authored by commenters Shadow Wizard, JNK, Billy ONeal, Jeff Attwood and me. –  Graham Perrin Aug 3 '11 at 9:51
    
@graham I see, that makes more sense –  Jeff Atwood Aug 3 '11 at 10:45
    
I must say it's amusing this got [status-declined] even though what I was looking for got implemented. :) –  Billy ONeal Aug 3 '11 at 16:53

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