I do see that there are many questions about having a reply button but they all refer to this question for the answer:

"Reply" links on comments

This link allows users to install a script which does it for them; however, if I am a new user coming to this site, chances are great that I won't find that script. Instead I will post a reply to a comment not knowing I need to put @user in front of it and then that user is never notified I commented.

While the @user method works once you know it, it is not very intuitive for new users. A simple reply button would be far more intuitive for new users. This could greatly help productivity of the OP's to get their answer as well as for people attempting to help to know when the OP has responded.

Without a reply button, I have seen so often that new users simply type their response to a comment and therefore I am never notified. I can periodically check those questions I have commented on but of course I am not going to do this forever.

Why has the community been so against an actual reply button instead of a work around script?

  • There are things that help with this... for example, if there's only one person who has commented on your post or if you comment on someone's answer to your question, they are automatically pinged.
    – Catija
    Commented Dec 7, 2017 at 21:00
  • superuser.com/questions/1275189/… Someone else commented, but for me to get more detail about the OP's problem, I need to ask more questions. He is not using the @ way to reply.so I have to check back ever so often to know if he responded. May I ask the reason why the community seems against having one?
    – Eric F
    Commented Dec 7, 2017 at 21:01
  • I wonder if there was a deleted comment... I've had people in a similar situation write several comments and I still get pinged as long as there's not a third person in the discussion... and I don't see anyone else there?
    – Catija
    Commented Dec 7, 2017 at 21:05
  • Well, he just replied to you. :P PING.
    – Catija
    Commented Dec 7, 2017 at 21:07
  • haha yes he did.. and perhaps that question is a bad example. You do know though that it happens quite often where someone asks, someone else comments, but the next comment is the driver for information to the question. That driver never receives a ping. The same applies to question comments as well as answer comments. For the post above, if you were to comment at this state, and the OP replies, you would never see it
    – Eric F
    Commented Dec 7, 2017 at 21:08
  • Well, any comment on an answer will notify the person who wrote the answer. But I definitely did get a notification for your most recent comment. I don't know whether we need the system to implement something but you can say, "hey, please use @ericf so that I'm notified of any responses in the future, otherwise I won't know when you reply". Also worth noting that you're not the only one who can take action on the information they give. You're certainly interested in it and that's really helpful, but someone else can pick up the thread, too.
    – Catija
    Commented Dec 7, 2017 at 21:15
  • I agree with everything you are saying here. I can tell them to use the @ in their response but that seems to be going around something that could so easily be fixed. To have to ask all new users to do this seems to be the harder (band aid fix) way to solve the problem. I get that I am not the only one helping. My thought is the reply button would appear next to everyone's comment. If clicked it would simply put @user in front of the next comment for the OP. This helps so then the OP can clearly show who they are talking with
    – Eric F
    Commented Dec 7, 2017 at 21:20
  • There's a very early request for this here that's been status declined for a while. The question did lead to the current system of replies that we have but doesn't really explain why they don't want to build this into the UI. If I had to guess, comments aren't really full citizens of the site. Making comments more like a chat room may make people more likely to abuse them.There's been a lot of discussion about how to integrate chat and comments more or find a better way.
    – Catija
    Commented Dec 7, 2017 at 21:23
  • I get your point of not wanting to make it a chat site or forum. It seems the consensus in your link was to revamp the reply system and to put in the rules "use @" basically. So I know a few people in person that have used this site and know how hard it can be as a new user. Some of the people I know have given up trying to use this system. I wish only to help grow the number of users on here being why I ask questions like this on the meta even if people don't like them
    – Eric F
    Commented Dec 7, 2017 at 21:29
  • Yeah. Also, if you care, I think the reason you're not getting replies is because David edited the question. Users who edit questions are also pingable, although their names don't autocomplete... so I guess that someone editing also removes the automatic notifications.
    – Catija
    Commented Dec 7, 2017 at 21:30
  • Do you know the cons for adding the reply button? The only ones I can think of are cluttering the UI (which can be solved depending how a button is added) and taking effort to implement. Most of this feature is already there with the @ feature.
    – Eric F
    Commented Dec 7, 2017 at 21:35
  • Not specifically... though because replies aren't actually linked to a specific comment, only to a user, it can be really confusing when the reply doesn't somehow actually link to that comment... and I'm going to guess that they're not going to want to add that to the comment reply logic. In chat it's already somewhat confusing when users don't realize that there's a direct message reply option in addition to the general user ping.
    – Catija
    Commented Dec 7, 2017 at 21:39
  • The same problem exists with the @ system but don't think it is that big of a deal to have the reply only linked to the one being replied to only as that is how the entire comment section works right now as is.
    – Eric F
    Commented Dec 7, 2017 at 21:56

1 Answer 1


Here's the funny thing. Comments have never been designed for long conversations - and I suspect the @ notation is kind of poor man's threading. We don't actually want people chatting in comments - comments are meant for quick clarifications and other such things, and a long comment string, with multiple replies is typically something we want to minimize.

One of the big problems new SE users has is... it isn't a forum. Adding forum like features is probably not going to help.

  • So if a question needs too much clarification, should I flag it then? To avoid chatting?
    – Eric F
    Commented Dec 11, 2017 at 20:54

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