Today I was in a need to post a comment, which I start with @user as usuall. Also it was necessary to add another @user string in the context. SO shows up the block with the followin text:

Only one additional @user can be notified; the post owner will always be notified

Ok, I know this. I clicked the box to dismiss it, but system did not allow me to submit the post.

My question is: why this message is implemented in so restrictive way? It should be a warning imho, and let decide the poster if he/she really wants to write another @user-like string in his/her message.


I feel I need to clarify. This is not about notification of many users. This is about writing a text which should include @user string. For example, I want to write "@Username, don't forget to mention @user tag in your comments". Right now it can not be posted.


I'm positng this update to answer some comments. I believe usability is very important factor for SE sites. In the context of posting texts here, it is important to provide extended tools such as specific markup codes, but it is more important that the codes should be optinal, not interfering with attempts to write in natural language, without a need to even know these markup codes.

When you're writing an SQL query and RDMS stops you in the middle pointing out a syntax error ("Hey, you're an idiot, correct your wording here") this is normal, because this is a special query language intended for usage with proper markup only. But in the case of the web-sites (some of them are not even related to programming), it would be very user-unfriendly to require people learn a special "query language" to post their thoughts. (I'm not a new user here, yet I don't know all syntax "tricks". Am I supposed to finish some SE "university" before I can start to work with the sites? I think it would be disaster for everybody).

Another example is HTML. You can provide an arbitrary non-standard attribute in each html-tag, and browser will show the page without a problem, just ignoring those unknown attributes. SE should behave in similar way: if it "sees" a special code adhering to extended syntax - use it in a predefined way, otherwise it should skip it and treat just as a text. Of course, SE can show warning messages, explaining questionnable situations, and thus teaching users, but should not block.

The bottom line. The SE sites would benefit from accepting posts (and comments) in natural language with seamless, unobtrusive detection and interpretation of special codes.

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    +1 ... So you mean, just because only 1 @user can be used, why shouldn't we be allowed to write that anyway, for others' reference? – d-_-b Dec 28 '12 at 19:22
  • @iight, yes, exactly. Meaning "just for reading". – Stan Dec 28 '12 at 19:24
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  • This is sort of similar, in that the comment system inflexibly rejects a certain combination of letters. Many of the arguments made in that post apply here. – user200500 Dec 28 '12 at 19:49
  • If you want to include a string of the form @user in your comment without it actually being a notification, just put it in code markup, as you did in your question. That's exactly what code markup is for. – David Z Dec 28 '12 at 20:06
  • @DavidZaslavsky, thank you, now I know that this IS a workaround, though I can't agree code markup is for this purpose. Code markup is for code markup, not for tricks like that, otherwise it would be called user markup. I don't see any reason why the server should block posts with any number of @tags which poster would like to write, without code markup. – Stan Dec 28 '12 at 20:12
  • The text of a comment is code, in a very simple language which has one special symbol, namely @. That's why it's appropriate to put it in code markup when you want to write it without it having its usual meaning. – David Z Dec 28 '12 at 20:16
  • I came here to post the same thing. I replied to a user with a post that also contained @Override (not in code quotes because I was quoting text that had that word in it, not code). I got this warning. That's all good and well but it definitely not a reason to not submit the post because, in reality, who cares; it would cause no real issues. The workaround was easy enough -- to surround @Override in code quotes (which, nit-picking, wasn't appropriate in context). It's a silly limitation though. – Jason C Nov 4 '13 at 23:40
  • @Robert: Re: The locked answer below: Thanks, although I did not have any issues reading the post date before I posted, and the contents of my comment are unaffected by the age of the post. Unless you believe that caused some type of real issue, I don't quite understand the significance here. If you do believe it is a problem, perhaps all SX sites could be modified to automatically lock all questions and answers after a given time has passed. At this point, I am not sure you were justified in locking an answer based on age; that would rarely be an appropriate course of action here. – Jason C Nov 4 '13 at 23:48
  • I hope that you did not also delete that persons answer for some arbitrary reason. – Jason C Nov 5 '13 at 0:06
  • This notification comes when I prefix try,catch and finally with @ and post it as comment.visit stackoverflow.com/q/5294165/730807 and see the comments below the question. this is where I faced the problem. – Durai Amuthan.H Dec 6 '13 at 6:05

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