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In my opinion it's getting harder to distinguish who is/was talking to whom lately.

It can be pretty confusing (and it's not really comfortable) to follow a thread of Alice - known as Bob until yesterday - answering to a comment/post originated by Fred, who has changed his/her name to Dharma four weeks ago, created and deleted a comment under that name, and changed the name again to Sally the day before yesterday and commenting again.

This is just a hypothetical example, but you know what I mean.

Can I find out the renaming history of a user in a post's context (or in general)?

How am I supposed to easily follow threads with massive name changes (and/or comment deletions)?

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Stack Overflow is not a forum. Comments are generally not intended to be... necessary information. Therefore, exactly who said what to whom is not considered important information. The primary purpose of the @-stuff is to be able to notify someone that you're responding to them, so that they can get the information you're trying to give them. That someone can come along a few weeks later and get something from it is more or less unimportant.

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  • If comments don't serve any historical/traceable purpose, why are they still there, even after months of inactivity? I can't believe, that the SE team would keep tons of "clutter" for no reason. MSO is a place with much discussion in the comments. Even on SO, I more often than not need the comments to understand how a post has evolved from question to solution. And to know who wrote what, helps me to build mental pictures of people I don't know in real life, but only in virtuality. – Jürgen Thelen Dec 18 '11 at 10:47
  • @JürgenThelen: There's a difference between "useless" and "not necessary". – Nicol Bolas Dec 18 '11 at 17:09
  • yes, I'm aware of this difference^^. But if it's really "more or less unimportant, if someone can still get something from it a few weeks later", then you and me may just have different opinions about what the point of SE sites is. For me it's to build free, wiki-style knowledge bases, for current and for already solved problems. If it's really only thought to handle current/unsolved problems (kind of hotline), I completely misunderstood that point. – Jürgen Thelen Dec 18 '11 at 22:08
  • @JürgenThelen: Except that you can't edit comments. So you can't build "wiki-style knowledge bases" on comments. What matters on SE sites are questions and answers. Everything else is not the point. – Nicol Bolas Dec 19 '11 at 1:06
  • Hm, I wasn't talking about editing comments, but using comments to track how a post evolved for current and already solved problems. I thought that emphasis on and was clear. Otoh I'm not a native speaker, so maybe my phrasing just sucks. Nevermind, your pov seems to be, that comments on posts older than a few weeks don't necessarily need to be understood anymore; as long as there is a question and answers, everything's fine. So we simply disagree. I'm ok with that. – Jürgen Thelen Dec 19 '11 at 1:50

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