105

I want to reference another user in my answer like I do in comments (@user). How can I do this?

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    You can't. Why would you want to do this anyway? Singling out users/answers is bad for long term relevance, as answers get edited and deleted all of the time. – Richard J. Ross III Apr 3 '13 at 17:28
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    @RichardJ.RossIII because the answer is relevant to a comment on the question. – Mike Rylander Apr 3 '13 at 17:29
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    @MikeRylander in that case, reply to that comment on the question – yoozer8 Apr 3 '13 at 17:30
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    This is usually an indication that your answer isn't an answer. If it isn't a true answer to the question, you can expect it to get flagged, downvoted, possibly converted to a comment, but most likely just deleted. – Won't Apr 3 '13 at 21:37
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    @Won't what if I am quoting and expanding on an answer provided as a comment? Answers in comments don't show the question as 'answered'. – Mike Rylander Apr 3 '13 at 21:51
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    People should probably stop inventing artificial reasons to not credit someone or not refer to or not follow up on someone's valuable/relevant contribution on the same page (ergo in "hot context"), especially on a non-anonymous (but pseudonymous) social media platform... Note: 1. There are well-accepted features a lot worse for "long-term relevance" (e.g. links, or just volatile topics) than name-linking a user. 2. yoozer8: expelling an answer to a comment (cut, crippled formatting, no votings etc.) just because it'd refer to some comment, is an absolutely ludicrous idea. – Sz. Jun 22 '17 at 23:30
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    Note: I do understand the risks (increased fragility of content via "spaghettification", possibly blurred focus etc.), but compared to writing someone's name anyway, there's no significant added risk to also "objectifying" that name then (e.g. for notification). If nothing else, for consistency with comments (that alone would justify it for me). The worst that could happen is just it not doing anything -- which is exactly the case we have today. – Sz. Jun 22 '17 at 23:46
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    I know this is an old thread but I wanted to point out one very obvious reason why it should be possible to link to the user profile: because of name changes! I have seen it many times, that a comment is referenced with a different (previous) username as the pointers do not get updated. I think this is extremely bad practice for privacy. If we assume that someone changed their name due to privacy reasons, from comments that reference the previous user name it is easy to make the link between the two usernames. – ylka Jun 29 '17 at 7:53
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You can reference another user using their name, and optionally by linking to a relevant question or answer that they wrote, or to their profile page.

This isn't the same as the @ reply used in comments, which actually isn't a reference to a user, but a reply to them. See How do comment @replies work? for more information about comment @ replies.

If your intent is to somehow notify a user that your answer is posted, that's not currently possible. The user who asked the question will be notified that an answer to their question was posted, but you can't specify other users to notify.

As far as replying to another answer: if what you're posting is a response to an answer by another user, it should be a comment on that answer (this will notify the user who posted the answer that they have a comment). You should only post an answer if it is, on its own, an answer to the question. Imagine if all other content on the page were gone and only the question and your response were left. If the page wouldn't make sense, or your response would lose meaning, then it is not an answer.

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    Nitpick: I think it's super-pointless to link to user profile pages. And not only is it pointless, it puts the focus on the user, rather than on the content. We can now link to anything that has been posted to the site, whether question, answer, or comment. If you want to refer to something, link to the item itself, not the user. It's fine, however, to use the user's name as the link text. – Cody Gray Apr 4 '13 at 0:55
  • Note that I'm not advocating linking to a user; I'm simply pointing out that it is one way to refer to a specific user – yoozer8 Apr 4 '13 at 3:41
  • In some cases it can be appropriate to refer to a user, but these would all be meta cases. Questions like Who should our moderators be? (typical of any beta site) come to mind. I'm sure there are other questions that can be found where a reference to some user would be acceptable as (part of) and answer. – yoozer8 May 19 '13 at 0:08
  • @Jim I also agree with Etiquette issue. But, is this etiquette generally documented someplace in Stack? I posted a similar question asking for a reference: Etiquette Reference Request – elika kohen Nov 14 '15 at 19:39
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    Hmm, what about the case where you want to give credit where it is due? E.g. in this answer I took the answer another user made, and rewrote it to run in parallel and added notes about CPU cores. Should it rather have been an edit then, or is giving credit/hat tips done some other way? – Johny Skovdal Oct 18 '16 at 11:58
  • @JohnySkovdal In that case I'd link to the other answer, or even just drop the "@" before the user's name (since it does nothing). The benefit of linking to the answer rather than mentioning the user by name is that usernames can change over time. If Motti changes usernames, people reading your answer may be confused - "you adjusted what answer?" – yoozer8 Oct 18 '16 at 15:05
  • Aren't we back to linking to their profile is better then? The answer might also be removed? :) – Johny Skovdal Oct 19 '16 at 5:23
  • No, because you're talking about the answer, not the user. If the answer gets removed....well, that happens sometimes. Text referencing an answer that is no longer visible (<10k) that links to a (seemingly arbitrary) user profile may be more confusing than a link to a deleted answer (do <10k users get a "this answer is deleted" page, or just see the question and existing answers in that case?) – yoozer8 Oct 19 '16 at 13:28
  • "You can reference another user using their name" how exactly do I do that in a way that links to the user (like in comments). I only want to give someone credit for helping me come up with my answer. – A Droid Feb 9 at 12:36
  • @ADroid what do you mean "links to the user"? Links in comments work basically the same as in questions/answers. – yoozer8 Apr 9 at 14:37
  • @yoozer8 I thought there was a simple way to do it using the @ symbol just like in this very comment but I guess I could just create a normal hyperlink. – A Droid Apr 9 at 14:55
  • @ADroid using the @ doesn't create a link... – yoozer8 Apr 9 at 15:01
  • You're right. I'm pretty sure it used to. Nevermind. – A Droid Apr 9 at 16:48
5

At this time, a feature like that is not available, for several reasons:

  1. No for it has been made.
  2. Replying to another answer in your own can lead to rot - it's never to have your content dependent upon content that you cannot control.
  3. It could be seen as abused as a way to be malicious to a user, for example:
    • User A posts an answer, that is incorrect in some minor case/scenario, and gets 3 upvotes
    • User B posts an answer, which points out those flaws, and gets 5 upvotes
    • Over time, user A's answer gets downvoted because of the edge case that wasn't handled
    • ???
    • User B profits

That's not the type of behavior we want to encourage on this site - compare to the following real-world scenario:

  • Person A begins a speech
  • Person B (in audience) interrupts the speech and points out that the speaker mis-pronounced a word, shaming him publicly
  • Person A is afraid to ever speak publicly again, for fear of being humiliated

So, essentially, by singling out an answer or a user, you humiliate them in a public fashion. As we are a community that encourages all helpful answers, and the input we can get, we don't need people becoming upset at other users and leaving the site.

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    I understand your reasoning. I personally wanted to give credit for an answer to someone who made a comment, but I can see the negative potential. – Mike Rylander Apr 3 '13 at 17:39
  • I definitely agree with your edge cases regarding the negative effects, but I also think there are plenty of positive benefits to offset them. My current use case involves a blog post someone wrote who is clearly a stack user. There's all sorts of concerns to be worked out but getting their direct input on an issue would be very valuable. – kraftydevil Oct 30 '14 at 15:07
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    The 'abuse' reason makes no sense. If SO trusts their users so little that they feel the need to prevent them from even being able to reference each other in their content, then they have no business running a Q&A site in the first place. The 'abuse' that is apparently so feared can occur freely in comments anyway, and the handful of edge cases where this might occur is massively outweighed by the normal usage in which this would be useful (assuming most of your users aren't complete plonkers). – Neutrino Dec 2 '16 at 16:42
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    The real problem that drives users away from SO isn't toxicity of the general community but the intolerant bordering on fascist application of SO ettiquette and policy by high ranking Stack Overlords who arrogantly close and lock topics at the drop of a hat because they don't like interesting discussion but do enjoy exercising their authority. – Neutrino Dec 2 '16 at 16:42
  • But how does not linking solve your scenario? Names can still be posted and it is seemingly not discouraged by moderators, so I think linking updateable names to profiles in answers is perfectly reasonable and will be used for perfectly good reasons and the use would be monitored by the community as all things are. In the current state, it would only improve posts as I see it. Otherwise, SE should disallow posting member's names full stop. – n00dles Aug 10 '18 at 6:36
1

If you want to cite a user's comment, I've found its best to type their user name and then make this a link to their comment.

Get the URL for the link by clicking on the time next to their comment, as documented here.

  • Yes, this is exactly what I was trying to do. – A Droid Feb 9 at 12:33

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