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Kind of hard to identify a user if there are two completely separate users with different names. According to this user Gilles (moderator on French Language, CompSci and this user Gilles (on Puzzling.SE), the only way to really differentiate from the two is to see the gravatars that hey have picked.

And since you can't tell which Gilles is the one you actually want to ping, how we would we go about this? The latter Gilles apparently insists that having identical names as someone is okay.

So here's my request. Add the gravatar to the names that pop up when you are attempting to tag someone, so that you get the right user. I understand this may be fairly niche, that two users with the same username could be active in the same question, but this can cause issues when trying to ping someone I didn't actually want to ping.

As psubsee2003 points out, the first thing to actually address is choosing a user to ping, THEN adding gravatars to identify the user.


2 Answers 2


Before adding a gravatar, you need to request a feature that actually will allow you to select the specific user you want to ping.

The way the system is designed at the moment, you can't select a specific user, so it won't matter which name you pick from the pop-up. Clicking in the dropdown will only ping the Gilles that commented last regardless of the name you select.

  • Good point, I didn't really catch that. So I'll re-edit my question, thanks!
    – yuritsuki
    Nov 22, 2014 at 0:32
  • The "only the one that commented last" part is correct, but the "any user with matching 3 characters" is wrong. When you type @Gilles, you don't notify anyone called "Gilbert". That wouldn't make much sense.
    – balpha StaffMod
    Nov 22, 2014 at 6:56
  • @balpha edited that part out then. I think I either misunderstood or misremembered the details in what I read before. Thanks for the correction. Nov 22, 2014 at 9:45
  • It should be considered a bug that when you click on a user's name from the popup, the notification may still go to the other user. Nov 23, 2014 at 6:51

Your proposal wouldn't remove reading confusion, which would be good to resolve at the same time.

Also, you'd have to view the profile of the comment you're replying to, to know which gravatar to use.

I think this already resolves your issue, including my two points above:

When same usernames are present in a question, the system can just serve up their unique ID next to their username.
It would need to show it on both the comments, and the ping options, so you can marry them up.

So comments when there's two users with username "James", would look like:

  • hmm, yeah, blah, rhubarb! - James (334455) 35 mins ago
  • ok, thanks, will do! - James (667788) 15 mins ago

Then when typing @Jam you'd get the options:
James (334455) - James (667788)

So the unique identifier (userid) shows which comments belong to the different James', and that gives you a unique identifier to easily choose which one to reply to (for the ping to work).

I don't see this being much of a real problem though, with such a likely low frequency.
How often do you see this occur?

  • And who's going to know what the ID refers to without looking at their profile page?
    – yuritsuki
    Nov 22, 2014 at 5:07
  • @euphoriaoverlord It doesn't matter. The question is not about trying to identify a particular user among same usernames. It's about identifying a specific user's comment, so when you reply your ping goes to the user you are replying to, not one of the other users with the same username.
    – James
    Nov 22, 2014 at 5:14
  • I hate it when people say "it's not a big deal since it doesn't happen often". Good programming should handle all edge cases. Not only that, but since SE is supposedly about quality content, then you would want to make sure the correct person is notified in case you want them to improve their Q or A. Nov 23, 2014 at 6:55
  • @pacoverflow I agree - if you're going to do something do it right. However, there's a difference between a bug, an issue, and this which is "by design", in that there is no "fault" just something extra could be introduced to add improvement. And the lacking of this functionality doesn't affect the quality or usability of the site, especially given the severity of the outcome and the frequency of occurrence. The reason I brought up frequency is because Stack usually doesn't make changes unless it's a bug or problem, is useful to many, or is incredibly useful to a few.
    – James
    Nov 23, 2014 at 15:20
  • @James Like I mentioned in a comment to the other answer, I do think this should be considered a bug. When you click on one of the usernames in the popup, you are telling the system to send a notification to that user, but the notification might still go to the other user. Nov 23, 2014 at 17:59
  • @pacoverflow Surely a bug is when something doesn't work as intended? "the notification might still go to the other user" You make it sound like it's random, or there's no structured process or system. The ping goes to the user based on what the system is scripted to do, and will every time. When commenting to one of two (or more) users with the same username, your comment will ping the user with the most recent comment. It is designed that way, and works fine, so not really a "bug". It could be improved, however.
    – James
    Nov 23, 2014 at 18:16
  • True, that's how the system is designed, but for users who don't realize that, it definitely seems like a bug. There was another meta discussion a few weeks ago describing how a user directed a comment to a user named "tim" by typing @tim, but the notification was actually sent to the user "timrau". The way this comment notification system is designed is definitely unintuitive. Nov 23, 2014 at 18:28

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