Yesterday, I was commenting on a post, and another user named Chris was also commenting. I came back on a while later, and I had a notification on the question. I went to check the question and saw that the original poster had replied in a comment, but used @Chris as the user they were pointing the comment to.

Should I have been notified for this? Or was there some logic confusion between my name (christiandev) and the other users' name (Chris)?

  • Care to link to the comments in question? But yeah, if it matches a partial name, you will get notified as well.
    – Bart
    Commented Aug 10, 2013 at 10:51
  • I will dig through and try and find it, but I will definitely take note if it happens again. Is the partial match an expected behavior? Commented Aug 10, 2013 at 10:53
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    Afaik yes meta.stackexchange.com/questions/43019/…
    – Bart
    Commented Aug 10, 2013 at 10:54
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    As far as I understand (see #4 in the linked answer), both people will not be notified. Matching happens in reverse-chronological order, so you were notified because you were the last Chris that was participating. The other Chris is blissfully unaware. Commented Aug 10, 2013 at 11:01
  • So, this is correctly marked as a bug or an undesired behavior? Commented Aug 10, 2013 at 11:03
  • Not sure what the official opinion is. It has been discussed before, both in the context of chat notifications and as a somewhat-related feature request. Commented Aug 10, 2013 at 11:06
  • OK, my 2P worth would be to alert the user it's aimed at, but then that takes away the ability to shorthand in the comment I guess. Im sure there's more thought that my 20 mins worth gone into it :) Commented Aug 10, 2013 at 11:10
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    To me the sensible thing would be to be to find all possible targets of the @ and have exact matches trump partial matches. Otherwise if Chris comments before christiandev there is no way they can be notified. Commented Aug 10, 2013 at 11:19
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    Well I think we should get someone from the C++ committee who designed the overload resolution rules to see if they can formalize the @reply semantics - then that situation would become undefined behavior and you'd get a unicorn when attempting to post the comment.
    – Mat
    Commented Aug 10, 2013 at 11:27
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    @Arjan - here. The auto complete gives the impression that Chris would have been notified. Screenshot. I would definitely expect that selecting the "Chris" option would notify Chris. Commented Aug 10, 2013 at 11:39
  • You're right, @Martin, though the rules indicate that indeed @Chris first matches "christiandev" in reverse chronological order (and there's no way to explicitly select "Chris" in this case), the auto complete does suggest otherwise.
    – Arjan
    Commented Aug 10, 2013 at 11:45
  • Now there is auto complete I wonder about the value of even catering for partial matches TBH. Sometimes it makes it confusing who the response is intended for. Commented Aug 10, 2013 at 11:49
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    Well the issue is already solved in chat. Just a reply link next to the comment would do it. Prioritising exact matches over partial matches seems like something that should be easy to do with the current system though even though the edge case of people with the exact same user name would still crop up occasionally. Commented Aug 10, 2013 at 11:56
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    @Arjan - I'm pretty sure it does because the replied to comment is permanently linked to the other commment. (You can click on it to navigate to the comment it was in reply to) so there should be no possible ambiguity or need to parse names at all. Commented Aug 10, 2013 at 12:02
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    Related: Can we have a reply button in comments too?
    – Arjan
    Commented Aug 10, 2013 at 12:12

1 Answer 1


Here's what happened:

You were both commenting on the post. christiandev and Chris start with the same five letters. Comment @replies are case insensitive.

When this happens, the system's default is to pick the last commenter. Since you had commented chronologically just before Chris, the system pinged you. See rule 5 in How do comment @replies work?. This is definitely a bug; if there is an exact match for a name, the system should go with that. However, the system currently defaults to rules 4 and 5 in conflicts. This means that you, chronologically, were notified.

I propose bypassing the rule set if an exact match is found. While this is currently technically by design, it really shouldn't be.

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