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Although I'm aware that display names are not unique, this is the first time I've come across a question answered by a user with the same display name as the OP (here).

The problem this poses is that if I want leave a comment on the answer that notifies the asker, I have to play a guessing game:

There's no clear way for me to tell which Kareem is the real Kareem (short of a certain arcane incantation) and I wouldn't want to mistakenly shoot (an answer to) the wrong one.

This is confusing (if infrequent). I can't tell whether it actually breaks notifications but even if a comment using @Kareem would "correctly" notify both users, a system that allows arbitrary identifiers should be prepared to handle collisions a bit more gracefully. How many people read the @replies FAQ? (More importantly, how many remember all of the implementation details?)

What I'd like to see is a slightly expanded notification syntax; for example, @: could allow notification by the user ID such that I would use @:2561 to notify the OP in the above conversation.

Being able to type @: to show autocomplete options as Kareem:2561 and Kareem:1661 instead of just Kareem and Kareem would be a nice additional functionality.

I'm assuming here that an arbitrary display name could be 2561 or user2561 but could not start with a symbol. Another approach that avoids expanding the syntax would be to reserve display names of the format ^user\d+$ to avoid spoofing the "default" display name of another user and then allow @-notification by either of the current and default display names.

One additional benefit of this feature is that it would be much easier to distinguish when a reply is made to a deleted comment vs. a comment from a user whose display name had later changed. Again, this will be infrequent, and it relies on people using the feature - but if user2561 changes their display name on realizing there's an active user already going by "Kareem," the @reply by the other "Kareem" will start to look a bit schizophrenic. It's in just those cases where a user is most likely to want the alternative syntax that it might be expected to carry this added benefit.

marked as duplicate by Dennis, bmike, CRABOLO, Martijn Pieters, Stijn Sep 23 '14 at 7:35

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  • As far as I understand, it doesn't matter which name you pick in the autocomplete. Either way, it will just insert the text "@Kareem" into the comment, and then it will notify users chosen by this algorithm. – murgatroid99 Sep 22 '14 at 20:49

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