The one useful thing I was ever taught in HCI was always give advanced users "hidden" short cuts and features.

Things a noob is not interested in but a power user can easily take advantage of.

@rjstelling - Auto linking @username to users profile (a la Twitter). It's already the de facto standard in comments.

[#102] - Simple question linking, this would expand to the title linked to the question, i.e. Additional Badge Ideas

[#102#160] - Simple answer linking, as above the the second number specifies the answer i.e.: Additional Badge Idea

Are these useful?

Edit: The @username idea has been implemented.

  • 2
    profile linking would only work for users without a space in their name, like yourself - would you reply to me using @Rowland, or @Rowland Shaw (I'd expect the former to be the common style) Commented Jun 30, 2009 at 11:00
  • 3
    To avoid ambiguity something like @(user) would be better (and solve the space in names problem). Engine should convert to @(#id) as user names, but not ids, can change.
    – Richard
    Commented Jul 2, 2009 at 9:57
  • 1
    Don't need separate syntax for answers, as both answers and questions use the same sequence of ids.
    – Richard
    Commented Jul 2, 2009 at 9:57
  • using @ with the user number might be better - different users can have the same name (right now, mine's Nick. How many people have the name Nick on stack overflow???)
    – NickAldwin
    Commented Jan 3, 2010 at 6:12
  • The reverse: Turning off auto linking Commented Sep 13, 2023 at 19:30

6 Answers 6


I think I'd find these useful - particularly the username one.

  • Actually, I don't see the use-case. Why do you need a link to someone's profile in order to refer to them in comments/answers? Commented Jun 30, 2009 at 11:09
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    ... particularly when you're usually replying to a comment just a few lines above, which already has a link to their profile.
    – Jon Skeet
    Commented Jun 30, 2009 at 11:19
  • I don't use it all the time (partly because it not easy to do) but I think it's courteous to link to the user name - that's my only reason.
    – ChrisF Mod
    Commented Jun 30, 2009 at 11:25
  • Also - I'd not considered that user names here can have spaces - so it would need a closing tag.
    – ChrisF Mod
    Commented Jun 30, 2009 at 11:27
  • 3
    User names are not unique. There are 4 users with a user name of "Andrew", for example. Commented Jul 21, 2009 at 4:14

Complementary suggestion:

Add a clipboard paste handler to the answer textarea that automatically replaces pasted internal links with question/answer links.

The user right-clicks a permalink in a question or answer and selects "Copy link". The permalink is copied to the clipboard (for example: "http://meta.stackexchange.com/questions/1010/advanced-syntax-ideas"). The user moves to the answer box and presses Ctrl-V to paste the link. The event triggers, detects the internal link and replaces it with [#1010] automatically.


For simple question linking, I'd prefer the Flickr style: [Advanced Syntax Ideas to generate Advanced Syntax Ideas - also would allow for easy cross-linking from sister sites (e.g. "See the [foo] thread on meta")


I would also like to see a tool in the toolbar that opened a popup where you could search for the question or answer that you want to link. That way you wouldn't need to remember the question number, or open another browser window to refer to it.


Links to posts on the same site, parent, or its child meta, are automatically expanded. Like so:

What days did the trilogy sites launch on? https://meta.stackexchange.com/questions/33290/what-days-did-the-trilogy-sites-launch-on

Generating a profile page for a user upon registration https://stackoverflow.com/questions/4614071/generating-a-profile-page-for-a-user-upon-registration

Also, tags can be specially linked as [tag:tagname] like so:

Comment @name mentions have been implemented for quite a while.

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    As an aside: link titles are inserted when the post is saved, so changes in the linked title are not visible until the post that links to it is edited too.
    – Arjan
    Commented Jan 6, 2011 at 15:39

There's a related UserVoice suggestion for linking to questions/answers easily which you might like to look at for thoughts about the syntax.

I'm not sure about autolinking usernames though - it's certainly not something I need on a regular basis.

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    @Jon is what I would write, I wouldn't write @Jon Skeet, also what would check if there is a user called Jon and a user called "Jon is" (since my comment started with @Jon is) Commented Jun 30, 2009 at 10:42
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    Agree on not being as important about the usernames - it also has huge disambigution issues, and syntax issues - i.e. . @[Jon Skeet] (perhaps) Commented Jun 30, 2009 at 11:05

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