Let's say I want to reference a member in a question. The member would probably be a significant contributor to the field or a known expert in the field relating to my specific question, so they might be interested in joining in on the problem to find an answer. Good for them, good for me. Can this be done currently in SO? Perhaps using the @ in front of their name.

There is potential for abuse and members could become annoyed by such tags. However, the notifications could be separate from the inbox, or filtered out if desired. This feature will appeal to members who recognize that a tag to an expert (with a large reputation) might not be as effective as a tag to an expert of a field with a much smaller scope. The feature will draw out those members and could further the richness of answers on SO. And the tags could be required to be added separate from the question (so as not to distract from the question itself), limited to only a few in number, and an initial rep requirement before the feature can be used.

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    SO questions aren't for asking someone specific for help or to join a project. They're for sharing knowledge about programming related issues that can be used by others in the future to solve similar problems. In other words, it's not specifically about helping one person solve one problem, but about providing general solutions to problems that others will have as well. If it fits within the specific knowledge of a "known expert" that participates here, proper tags and a specific question should be sufficient to get their attention. – Ken White Dec 19 '13 at 1:40
  • I suspected this, as there can be obvious abuse that would change the nature of SO. However, there are gains too. A member could be more inclined to be active when they receive these types of tags. The tag notifications could be seperated from the inbox, or filtered out if desired. I think SO is a "community" and this fits within what it offers. Also I don't see this question as deserving a downvote? – David Graham Dec 19 '13 at 1:45
  • Downvotes to questions on Meta indicate disagreement when it's regarding a feature request. I disagree with this as a feature request, hence the downvote. Adding the feature you're asking for changes the nature of SO from a reference/knowledge base to that of other sites, and I vehemently object to the idea of doing so. As I mentioned before, asking a properly written question and adding the appropriate, relevant tags should get the attention of the people you're describing. – Ken White Dec 19 '13 at 1:47
  • Aww, gotcha. Wasn't familiar with the downvote in metastack as opposed to SO. :-) – David Graham Dec 19 '13 at 1:47
  • :-) Yeah, it's sometimes an attention getter at first. – Ken White Dec 19 '13 at 1:49
  • It does lower your reputation however. So I guess you have to be very mindful what ideas you want to mention. Or maybe that's just a glitch, because on my profile it didn't change? (but shows next to my name) – David Graham Dec 19 '13 at 1:51
  • Certainly it changes your reputation (as do upvotes if people agree with the feature request). It encourages people to research, and to think through all of the pros and cons of the feature before they request it. :-) – Ken White Dec 19 '13 at 1:55
  • I viewed down voting more for an irrelevant question. I'm not saying one shouldn't be mindful of what they ask, they should. I'm saying one now has to think if anyone else would not want the feature. However, thats a catch 22, you need to ask the community to find out. – David Graham Dec 19 '13 at 2:00
  • Certainly you need to consider whether others would want the feature before posting a request for it - a feature request should consider its impact on the site as a whole, not just on your particular wants or needs. Voting on whether the feature request is something that the community agrees should be added is a large part of how SE evolves. – Ken White Dec 19 '13 at 2:08
  • Regarding your edit: Look at just the first page of SO users by rep, and imagine the inbox message flow of each of them if your feature was implemented. How many times do you think people would individually name Jon, Darin, BalusC, or Marc in just a single hour, not to mention the others on that page? How many notifications would Jon Skeet get on questions regarding "string parsing into an array in C#" in the first 15 minutes alone? – Ken White Dec 19 '13 at 2:25
  • Right, I understand what you are saying. However, other "social" sites implement this with no worry. I know SO is not a "social" site in that sense, but where there is popularity and reputation, there will always be popularity and reputation. It will appeal to members who recognize a tag to an expert (with a large reputation) might not be as effective as a tag to an expert of a field with a much smaller scope. – David Graham Dec 19 '13 at 2:31
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    Right. Those new programmers who have no knowledge, no experience, and are posting the "Please write my program for me" questions will consider whether it's appropriate to send the question personally to the attention of those top users. And we'll magically just stop getting off-topic or non-effort questions, and all of the moderators can just retire because there will be no need for them, either. And we'll all get real unicorns under our Christmas trees next week, too. – Ken White Dec 19 '13 at 2:36
  • Well those experts could simply downvote those members. Or maybe a member needs to reach a certain reputation before they can do it. No unicorns required. :-) – David Graham Dec 19 '13 at 3:11
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    OK. So your "feature" is a request to annoy "the experts" by flooding their inboxes, and reduce their reputation by expecting them to downvote the questions that shouldn't have been sent to their attention. I'm clearly not one of the users on that first page, but I've posted 1700+ answers in 1000+ tags on SO as of right now, and might be considered quite knowledgeable in at least a few of them, and I'd be quite ticked off. :-) – Ken White Dec 19 '13 at 3:17

You can't notify people like this, but that's a good thing. If you could, high rep users or "known experts" would soon tire of the constant notifications and either tune them out or quit altogether. It's just too ripe for abuse.

If someone is already participating on a post, you can notify them in comments. For more on that, see How do comment @replies work?

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