Once in a while you wish to address a comment to someone in particular, so you type @ and then you pause ... because the username is l̕aͨŵƦȆ̴̟̟͙̞ͩ͌͝ƞCͭ̏ȇ ƇhƐȓ0nè or Ωmega.

Short of using copy-paste to get their username right (which is even more cumbersome on a mobile device), is there another way around this? In a few cases I've noticed that the system will attempt to "promote" a comment to a reply, but I'm not sure if that's very reliable.

Should user names at least start with a normal letter?


The auto-complete feature seems to normalize Zalgo'ish usernames, so typing the letter L will trigger the suggestions as expected; this is of course knowing that the name actually spells "lawrence", which may not always be obvious.

Knowing the way of the symbol ninja would surely help to type Ω using only the elbows as well, but not everyone is blessed with the same keyboard layout.


It would be nice to have a reply feature like this:

reply feature proposal

When ↳ reply is clicked, it will automatically populate the comment box with @username pre-filled in.

Additional notes

To clarify, I'm not suggesting to put the "reply" on all comments, as proposed here, because in most cases the owner of a post is already notified of a new comment; this would strictly be to effect cross-commenter communication.

  • 2
    If you're on a mac, just try Alting some keys. You might get the character :).
    – Linuxios
    Commented Feb 19, 2013 at 0:29
  • 2
    Your keyboard doesn't have a key ?!
    – jscs
    Commented Feb 19, 2013 at 0:29
  • 2
    It's not fun even on a Mac. Autocomplete garbles the hell out of the name into a tiny space.
    – Makoto
    Commented Feb 19, 2013 at 0:31
  • 2
    Using usernames like that is their way of muting comment notifications. If they wanted comments, they'd use a name people would know how to type.
    – Servy
    Commented Feb 19, 2013 at 3:06
  • 36
    Just don't talk to these people.
    – user159834
    Commented Feb 19, 2013 at 3:23
  • 4
    It would be nice if you could just click on the username in the comments to start a new reply with the appropriate @ syntax pre-populated.
    – Mufaka
    Commented Feb 19, 2013 at 4:03
  • That screenshots mockup needs a nice, red, freehand circle. And an arrow.
    – J. Steen
    Commented Feb 19, 2013 at 8:43
  • Are there any restrictions on what characters can appear in a username? What about full-width exclamation marks?
    – Kerrek SB
    Commented Feb 19, 2013 at 8:59
  • @J.Steen I suck at freehand drawing, so a elliptical 2px stroke is the end-result =p
    – Jack
    Commented Feb 19, 2013 at 9:08
  • @KerrekSB Display names can contain letters, digits, spaces, apostrophes, and dashes. "Letter" in that case includes a lot of unicode goodness though.
    – balpha StaffMod
    Commented Feb 19, 2013 at 9:17
  • @Jack Sucking at freehand drawing is kind of the point. ;) Nice job though. Highlights do help. I had trouble spotting that the first time around. I did, eventually, and then I suggested the circle!
    – J. Steen
    Commented Feb 19, 2013 at 9:19
  • 10
    ޤo͛ͫƦR̘̝̙ͤ͂̾̆Y̷̙ ̒ͩͣ̅̓͒̀ͤ̂͂̄̊҉̶̝̗̦͡͠ ƒoȓ қiÇK͠1n͘G҉ ̛​͟uP̯͍̭ ̒ͩͣ̅̓͒̀ͤ̂͂̄̊҉̶̝̗̦͡͠ Á s҉7i͡N̐kͫ͏. ;p Commented Feb 19, 2013 at 19:00
  • @Lawrence No worries, I was gonna write the question before anyway, but your display name was added for kicks :)
    – Jack
    Commented Feb 19, 2013 at 23:11
  • 1
    @hims hey and what if Jack has a time machine? ;-) Commented Mar 13, 2013 at 9:03
  • 1
    There are also legitimate use cases to have usernames start with non-latin characters; e.g. users from countries with different alphabets; i.e. it's not only Zalgo (unless he has some role in the Babel myth...).
    – JohnLBevan
    Commented Mar 7, 2018 at 8:39

2 Answers 2


I've been meaning to make this change for a while, so this was a good nudge to finally do it:

From the next build on, if a comment thread contains a comment by a user whose name starts with a non-ASCII letter, then just typing @ will bring the tab completer up with that name:

screen shot of the tab completer offering a name that does not start with an ASCII letter

If all reply candidates start with "normal" letters (or numbers), then the tab completer behavior is unchanged; it will only start suggesting once you've typed an additional letter.

If there are two or more reply candidates starting with a non-ASCII letter, they will be listed side by side after just typing @.

Note that this will not offer you l̕aͨŵƦȆ̴̟̟͙̞ͩ͌͝ƞCͭ̏ȇ ƇhƐȓ0nè – that name starts with a nice and friendly lowercase "L".

Regarding your "click to reply" idea: That has been declined previously. I'm still considering your discussion/request to be completed because of the above change.

If you really want reply links, I've create a user script a long time ago that gives you just that. With the advent of the tab completer, I have actually stopped using it myself, but it should still work.

  • Thanks! Though, I wouldn't want to have "reply" links everywhere, because in many cases they would not be necessary; e.g. comments of the poster wouldn't need it. I've added that clarification in the question as well.
    – Jack
    Commented Feb 19, 2013 at 9:30
  • Awesome, I always wondered how to deal with those names as copying was a big headache! Commented Feb 25, 2013 at 8:34
  • This is really great, but it does not work in chat :(. Feature request is here.
    – Lord_Farin
    Commented Jun 24, 2013 at 19:03
  • 3
    What about mobile?
    – user178465
    Commented Nov 21, 2015 at 22:42
  • @balpha that script you linked to does not work. I know this thread is more than 8 years old so I am not unduly disappointed. Still, if you figure out how to update/reinvigorate it, I would appreciate it! Commented Jun 22, 2021 at 13:56

I followed your link to Lawrence's profile and from there to an answer of his. I clicked Add Comment and typed @l whereupon the autocomplete offered me his whole name.

For Ωmega I couldn't find a letter to type that triggered the autocomplete - I expect copy and paste would work.

  • 1
    Then maybe, at least the first letter should be '''normal''' (I know the word is inappropriate but I think you understand what I mean, common … maybe?)
    – jeromej
    Commented Feb 19, 2013 at 0:48
  • 2
    Are you looking for "ASCII"?
    – cpast
    Commented Feb 19, 2013 at 1:03
  • 3
    @cpast it's not as restrictive as that. The first letter of l̕aͨŵƦȆ̴̟̟͙̞ͩ͌͝ƞCͭ̏ȇ ƇhƐȓ0nè is not plain text (there's some sort of diacritic over the l) but typing an l works for autocomplete. Commented Feb 19, 2013 at 1:11
  • Just as another data point, typing Ω, which is available under ⌥-Z on an Apple US keyboard (and I'm sure there's some way to type it on other systems, even if it's awkward), brings up the autocompletion for Ωmega.
    – jscs
    Commented Feb 19, 2013 at 2:08
  • @JoshCaswell if I copy/paste Ω, and start typing @Ω into an answer where Ωmega participated this doesn't bring up the autocompletion for me (but it should)(I'm on Windows).
    – jeromej
    Commented Feb 19, 2013 at 2:39
  • @JeromeJ: Copy-paste also works for me. Make sure you are doing this on a post where it is not the case that Ωmega is the post owner and only one other person has commented. I used stackoverflow.com/questions/14307575 for testing.
    – jscs
    Commented Feb 19, 2013 at 2:44
  • 2
    @KateGregory: Although it appears that way, it is really a plain "l", lowercase "L". Full name is: l ` a ͨ ŵ Ʀ Ȇ ̴ ̟ ̟ ͙ ̞ ͩ ͌ ͝ ƞ C ͭ ̏ ȇ Ƈ h Ɛ ȓ 0 n è (had to wrap each char in code backticks to get individual characters to appear here.)
    – user159834
    Commented Feb 19, 2013 at 3:29
  • The autocomplete may sort of work, but does the actual reply-mechanism? Will it ping the user or is there a mismatch when the @username is, fundamentally, different from the actual username?
    – J. Steen
    Commented Feb 19, 2013 at 8:45
  • 1
    @user159834 not really, the backtick is part of the l. Try pasting the name l̕aͨŵƦȆ̴̟̟͙̞ͩ͌͝ƞCͭ̏ȇ ƇhƐȓ0nè in an input box, putting the text caret in the beginning of it, then shift-right-arrow once, then copy with ctrl+c. You'll copy the backtick too: .
    – ANeves
    Commented Jul 20, 2018 at 13:44

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