I posted about this like 8 months ago and wasn't sure if I just forgot about them. But since the new header bar was rolled out it is much easier to keep track of all the comments on your posts.

Here's what happened:

  1. I posted a question on Politics.SE.
  2. I received an answer and was notified.
  3. I received a comment on my question post and was notified.
  4. The answer from point 2 received several comments and I was not notified.

It seems like this is by design, but that seems counter-intuitive to me. The question is the first level. Comments on the question and answers are the second level. Comments on answers are the third level. They are all under the question. It makes sense to me that the original poster of a question should be notified of all answers and comments under the question.

What is the reasoning? Why should I not be notified that there is activity on my original post?

  • I've seen several "missed" notifications as well, but haven't done enough research to see what's common about them. – Aaron Bertrand Feb 20 '14 at 21:17
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    You don't get notified when comments are made on answers to your question. That's by design. – Oded Feb 20 '14 at 21:17
  • @Oded Right, I have edited. – user212646 Feb 20 '14 at 21:17
  • @Oded I've seen this at least once about every other day - and yes in cases where I'm sure I should have been notified. I will make sure to take note the next time it happens and provide less hand-wavy details. – Aaron Bertrand Feb 20 '14 at 21:25
  • @Aaron I have edited the post. Maybe you haven't see the update yet. It is clear when it will and will not notify you. My question is now "Why should I not be notified about activity on my original post?" – user212646 Feb 20 '14 at 21:27
  • @AaronBertrand - not saying there isn't a bug. Just that comments on any post that isn't of the OP (so, comments on answers by others to a question by the OP will not notify the OP). – Oded Feb 20 '14 at 21:29
  • Ah I see, you are trying to change the design (where you want to get notified, but the system currently doesn't attempt to notify you, on purpose). I'm talking about cases where I absolutely should have been notified (on purpose), but wasn't. – Aaron Bertrand Feb 20 '14 at 21:29
  • @Oded right, I thought originally this was describing a real bug that I, too, have experienced. Having re-read after the update I think my experience is unrelated. – Aaron Bertrand Feb 20 '14 at 21:30
  • @Aaron Yes, narrow down the bug, if there is one, and post a new question. I'm asking for the reason of this design. It's a pinch less than asking for a feature request. – user212646 Feb 20 '14 at 21:31

Comments are designed to notify the user they are addressed to. By default, the assumption is that they are addressed to the author of the post they are directly attached to - so the corresponding question or answer. They may also be directed at a specific user via the @ syntax, but the carry-over is that this sort of discussion is still directly related to the post it is attached to, so the post owner remains notified of those.

The reasoning that comments on answers do not propagate to the question asker is primarily noise reduction. We assume that for the most part, unless the question asker is directly in the comment exchange and the recipient of a direct address, the comments are probably directed either at the answerer or at others in the comment chain. They may not be useful to the author directly, and in the situation that they are, in most cases it should possibly result in the answer getting edited (which produces activity on the question and thus bumps it). Otherwise, they could be the equivalent of idle chatter. Since the question author's immediate attention may not be necessary, they thus aren't notified.

This becomes very relevant when you have a fair number of questions with a fair number of answers - this can result in a lot of comments in a short period of time, far more than is reasonable to have to sift through. There's no settings for "digest" notifications yet, which I figure is something people would prefer when dealing with that kind of a large amount of stuff. Otherwise, it's far less likely that comments on the answers are of immediate need for attention by the question author in comparison to the other kinds of activity.

The system was designed with the impression that comments are used to strengthen the answer by providing clarifications that result in revisions. But in practice, comments can be entities of themselves that are worth some measure of value. I could see that we could look into some kind of notification about comment activity on responses to one's questions, but it'd warrant some more analysis of the common value of such comments to decide how best to approach it without producing too much noise potential.

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