First Some Context:
Let us start with this post this post by T.J. (Don't remove the @ part of my comment), in which we find out that SO is automatically removing @postowner from comments. T.J., myself, and many others object to this behavior. But Jeff remains strongly fixed on the idea that @postowner increases the noise in the comment stream, and has an (understandable) belief that noise in the comments is a Bad Thing.
Jeff and I disagree on the nature of what is noise, and the expected behavior of @postowner -- I believe its purpose is to direct the attention of a comment, whereas Jeff believes that it is to ensure notification. He does however say that he has no problem with people entering "Postowner," as in:
@JockM did you take into account factors Foo and or Bar?
T.J. later makes this post making a excellent suggestion that the SO comment UI, should inform the user who will be notified when the comment is made. He goes on to say:
...but the crowd of us opposed to the change it relates to haven't done the constructive thing of offering a viable alternative.
So in that light I would like to make the following suggestion: Instead of deleting @postowner as it does now, why not convert "@postowner" to "postowner,"?
This would accomplish two things:
- It would decrease noise, since Jeff has repeatedly said "postowner," is just fine with him.
- It would preserve the intent of the commenter, which is to direct the comment to a specific person. Especially if T.J.'s suggestion is adopted, it is clear that those who go to the effort to manually type @postowner, are attempting to specially address the postowner (as opposed to the whole thread)
- It would greatly ease the concern of those of us in the anti camp, that our comments are being automatically edited to remove something we consider important.
Addendum: I want to make something clear here, I am suggesting this be done ONLY when the system is currently deleting @postowner now.
edit July 22, 2011: Updated title, added addendum, and additional clarification