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 Feb 19 '13 at 0:29
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    Your keyboard doesn't have a key ?! – jscs Feb 19 '13 at 0:29
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    It's not fun even on a Mac. Autocomplete garbles the hell out of the name into a tiny space. – Makoto Feb 19 '13 at 0:31
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    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 Feb 19 '13 at 3:06
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    Just don't talk to these people. – user159834 Feb 19 '13 at 3:23
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    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 Feb 19 '13 at 4:03
  • That screenshots mockup needs a nice, red, freehand circle. And an arrow. – J. Steen Feb 19 '13 at 8:43
  • Are there any restrictions on what characters can appear in a username? What about full-width exclamation marks? – Kerrek SB Feb 19 '13 at 8:59
  • @J.Steen I suck at freehand drawing, so a elliptical 2px stroke is the end-result =p – Jack Feb 19 '13 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 Feb 19 '13 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 Feb 19 '13 at 9:19
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    ޤo͛ͫƦR̘̝̙ͤ͂̾̆Y̷̙ ̒ͩͣ̅̓͒̀ͤ̂͂̄̊҉̶̝̗̦͡͠ ƒoȓ қiÇK͠1n͘G҉ ̛​͟uP̯͍̭ ̒ͩͣ̅̓͒̀ͤ̂͂̄̊҉̶̝̗̦͡͠ Á s҉7i͡N̐kͫ͏. ;p – Lawrence Cherone Feb 19 '13 at 19:00
  • @Lawrence No worries, I was gonna write the question before anyway, but your display name was added for kicks :) – Jack Feb 19 '13 at 23:11
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    @hims hey and what if Jack has a time machine? ;-) – Shadow 10 Years Wizard Mar 13 '13 at 9:03
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    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 Mar 7 '18 at 8:39

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.

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  • 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 Feb 19 '13 at 9:30
  • Awesome, I always wondered how to deal with those names as copying was a big headache! – Shadow 10 Years Wizard Feb 25 '13 at 8:34
  • This is really great, but it does not work in chat :(. Feature request is here. – Lord_Farin Jun 24 '13 at 19:03
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    What about mobile? – user178465 Nov 21 '15 at 22:42

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.

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  • 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 Feb 19 '13 at 0:48
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    Are you looking for "ASCII"? – cpast Feb 19 '13 at 1:03
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    @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. – Kate Gregory Feb 19 '13 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 Feb 19 '13 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 Feb 19 '13 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 Feb 19 '13 at 2:44
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    @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 Feb 19 '13 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 Feb 19 '13 at 8:45
  • @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 thinks SE is evil Jul 20 '18 at 13:44

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