The comment notification system is quite intelligent – it ignores special characters (see Comment notification special characters). However, in my name, I have a period after my first initial. As an academic, I've published papers using the same moniker and thought it professional here to follow the same form. (So it's a personal choice and I understand if this is status-declined!)

However, I don't believe that the next three forms notify me when individuals leave a comment:

  • @M. Tibbits <-- because of the space
  • @MTibbits <-- no period
  • @M Tibbits <-- space and no period

Including a space, the system stops and doesn't notify me. I can live with this, almost all of the higher rep users know to remove the spaces (excellent filter by the way...). But the second one bothers me. Somewhere—perhaps removed—I think Cody commented to me but left out the period, and I missed it for more than 24 hours. I believe the only way to notify me is to post:

  • @M.T at a bare minimum
  • and @M.Tibbits to be fully accurate.
  • It would be nice if they forcibly tossed some underscores or something on short usernames, too, so we can actually notify those users.
    – user154510
    Commented Aug 14, 2011 at 5:34
  • Here's the relevant comment discussion mentioned by Arjan. I've submitted an edit suggestion to remove the bit of your question that's about Cody's profile as it contains wrong information. By the way, according to #3 of How do comment @replies work?, @M. should notify you. Commented Aug 14, 2011 at 7:59
  • @Arjan: I changed it because I've seen evidence to the contrary recently, so I'm now unsure of what's going on. I definitely remember having received a notification from a comment that used @CodeGray one time in the past, but now I certainly wouldn't be able to find it. Commented Aug 14, 2011 at 8:43
  • @Cody: Maybe you were the only commenter other than the OP? By the way, thanks for accepting the edit suggestion and for editing your profile. Commented Aug 14, 2011 at 8:45
  • @Hen: (this notification should work according to the rules) Yeah that's what I don't really remember for sure. I don't think I was, but there are far more important things people irrationally expect me to remember. Commented Aug 14, 2011 at 8:47
  • @Cod: Yep, this notified me. And I didn't expect you to remember :-), but just recently I had a case where I didn't understand how I possibly could get a notification, and in the end I saw (with Arjan's help, actually) that I was the only commenter other than the OP. Commented Aug 14, 2011 at 8:54
  • @Cody: I think it was this deleted question. Commented Aug 14, 2011 at 9:09

1 Answer 1


As to which match works and which doesn't:

  • If you spell out a name, it has to be done correctly. @Cod does, but @Code does not notify Cody.

  • Your first example does indeed notify you. Because of the space, only @M. is considered for the reply matching, but @M. falls under the Singapore is now supported exception.

  • @MTibbits and @M Tibbits indeed do not notify you (where the latter isn't even a valid @-mention, since it only contains one character – @M).

  • @M.T and @M.Tibbits indeed do notify you.

And as to the feature-requesty part of your question – no, we're not going to do that.

  1. The more exceptions the matching rules have, the higher the chance that in the end something slips through (say the user "Trolls want food" comments, then "T. Rolling". You then reply with @troll).
  2. As I said in a comment, the more magic you put into @-reply matching, the more people expect stuff to work magically ("Eeeek! Why the hell would @Pony not notify the user Hornless unicorn?????!?!")

I also do not see any reason why a user would deliberately leave the period off. Sure, as a typo this can happen, but there's no difference to any other kind of mistyping that causes an intended reply to fail.

  • Yeah, I've fixed the profile now. As I mentioned above in the comments, I thought I saw this one time and just assumed the notification system had been tweaked, but I am probably remembering incorrectly. Commented Aug 14, 2011 at 8:56
  • (So, is the team using direct links to comments now? ;-) That calls for Auto expand comments of specific answer when browsing directly to that answer too!)
    – Arjan
    Commented Aug 14, 2011 at 10:06
  • 1
    @Arjan The team (in general) isn't, but I am :)
    – balpha StaffMod
    Commented Aug 14, 2011 at 10:23
  • Agreed, but with the current rules there are probably also (theoretical?) examples where the wrong users are notified. Like when B. Smith comments, followed by B.Gates, then both @B. and @B. Gates will actually notify B. Smith instead. Ignoring punctuation (if doable) at least might make the many rules simpler? (On the other hand, any effort to change things might be dangerous indeed. Too bad tests with auto-complete were actually a user script!)
    – Arjan
    Commented Aug 14, 2011 at 10:28
  • 2
    @Arjan: We have never tested auto-completion, so he must have. Regarding many rules: If people feel the need to list every possible edge case behavior in a giant wall of text and ignore the fact that "use the username, removing spaces" is all you need, that's certainly not a good reason for a new feature.
    – balpha StaffMod
    Commented Aug 14, 2011 at 10:39
  • Oh, that's easy ;-)
    – Arjan
    Commented Aug 14, 2011 at 10:46
  • Ahh. So I guess just remembered incorrectly about @M. Tibbits. Thanks @balpha!!
    – M. Tibbits
    Commented Aug 14, 2011 at 13:17

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