This has been discussed at least once before but it was accepted and implemented but not the way it was originally intended. If I overlooked an already existing identical feature request, sorry.

When commenting on questions from new users, mostly asking for clarification or additional information, I often find that these users have replied, but forgot, or didn't know, to address me using @username. I will find some of those replies but only by accident, when browsing through questions. Askers will be waiting for feedback and never receive any. (At least not from me.)

I think this is a real problem.

Here is a list of real life examples. Obviously, this can only be the tip of the iceberg as those are the question I happen upon by accident later.

I propose that either

  • notifications about subsequent comments be sent to every person who has commented in a thread. ("Facebook style notification"). The vast majority of comment threads on SO is max. 2-3 comments long, I don't think it will clutter people's inboxes.

  • or: Facebook style notification be activated for questions only so abovementioned situation doesn't happen

  • or: Newbies are shown a big fat info that if you want to reply to a previous comment, please include the user's name prefixed with a @ (I have not checked with a low-rep account whether this may already be the case, but from the number of "lost" replies I assume it isn't.)

  • What does '@' give us? You mean there is some implementation logic to look for usernames after '@' and send notifications to those users?
    – user136634
    Mar 20, 2010 at 12:36
  • @Developer Art: Yes, this is a relatively new feature put in earlier this year. meta.stackexchange.com/questions/1093/… Mar 20, 2010 at 12:46
  • @Bill the Lizard: That's new to me! It should have been put into FAQ. I mean, who would be diligently monitoring all feature announcements on meta?
    – user136634
    Mar 20, 2010 at 12:49
  • The at-sign magic was also announced on the blog blog.stackoverflow.com/2010/01/new-improved-comments-with-reply @dev
    – random
    Mar 20, 2010 at 12:51
  • @random how is this a dupe of 4798?
    – Pekka
    Mar 20, 2010 at 13:01
  • If the comment system was made easier, say, spelling it out or giving them a quick pop action, then even the new users of the sites would be able to use it properly. @pek
    – random
    Mar 20, 2010 at 13:05
  • 1
    The real issue is that this info does not reach general public. What's the point announcing it all in blog or on meta? Only a small percentage of SO users drop by here and there.
    – user136634
    Mar 20, 2010 at 13:05
  • 1
    @Pekka: Without getting into whether it's a duplicate, it seems a much better implementation to solve the same problem, and I was looking for the link to it before I even read random's comment.
    – Gnome
    Mar 20, 2010 at 13:06
  • I didn't really get 4798 until just now. Yes, that would be a good solution as well. Why are these things getting declined? And without explanation?
    – Pekka
    Mar 20, 2010 at 13:12
  • At least a hint pop-up really should be done. I agree with @Developer Art that only a tiny fraction of SO users actually reads the blog.
    – Pekka
    Mar 20, 2010 at 13:13
  • @Developer: Maybe it should be in the FAQ. meta.stackexchange.com/questions/43019/…
    – Gnome
    Mar 20, 2010 at 13:59

2 Answers 2


Additionally, per:

Micro-refinement to notifications for comments of others posts

If a user comments on their own post and there is only one person who has previously commented, then that person should be notified when the author comments even if '@user' is not specified.


I'm not against this, per se, but it's becoming more and more like a discussion site. This means that when you comment on a post, you are notified of any other comments made on that post, whether they were aimed at you or not.

In theory it sounds nice, but I'm worried about being swamped by notifications I don't really care about, and it's going to be harder to read the notification page because the comments won't be in context - you'll almost always have to view the page.

At least right now I know that the notifications that show up on /recent are in direct response to a post or comment I made, and I can usually understand it and decided whether to respond without having to visit the page where it's posted. Even if I don't recall the context, I know it was to me or about my post, and so it's worth revisiting.

I suspect the better answer is education.

  • 1
    I could live with education. A simple "Add @username to notify a user" may already be enough.
    – Pekka
    Mar 20, 2010 at 13:37
  • 1
    We already get a ton of "helpful" notifications that often only get in the way.
    – Pollyanna
    Mar 20, 2010 at 14:20

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