It seems that the @JohnDoe is not required anymore to reply in a comment and notify JohnDoe, even if JohnDoe only wrote a comment on the post (JohnDoe is not the answer writer). Am I right?

If so, shouldn't the help provided on the editing help page be updated?

Replying in comments

The owner of the post you're commenting on will always be notified of your comment. If you are replying to someone else who has previously commented on the same post, mention their username: @peter and @PeterSmith will both notify a previous commenter named “Peter Smith”.

For instance:

I have been notified:

Comment notify

On this SO answer (obviously, not mine), where Polynomial commented after me, but without inserting any @Otiel:

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  • Can you link to an example?
    – Grace Note StaffMod
    Nov 9, 2011 at 14:27
  • 2
    This is by design if JohnDoe was the only commenter and you're the post author.
    – Pops
    Nov 9, 2011 at 14:33
  • @GraceNote: Example added.
    – Otiel
    Nov 9, 2011 at 14:35

2 Answers 2


This is by design. The @ is still required, but we created a shortcut a while ago for when it's just two people talking - the post owner and one other commenter. This is because not a lot of new users know to use the Editing Help, or know about comment replies, so they don't use it when responding to a comment. As a lot of these happen to just be really quick back-and-forth, we instated a new rule, as explained here. This makes it more of a safety backup for new users, and a cool trick for those in the know.

The full FAQ for comment replies is here. It's quite in-depth because the rules of comment replies are a fair degree of complex. As such, sticking the full digest (which we would have to, were we to add just that tidbit) into the editing help would make it a bit of a chore to read. As inserting the @ will not change the behavior, and continues to get a user into the habit of using it, it is wiser to keep the simpler option in plainer view.


If the OP comments on their post and there's only one commenter in-between, the system assumes they meant to reply to that person even if they forget to include @username. The FAQ doesn't really need to mention it, it's not so much a feature as a workaround to deal with users who don't know how to comment reply -- you should still use @username to reply to a comment


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