I find I'm doing the Unix command completion/IRC name completion thing where I type a few letters of the username and hit tab when I'm entering comments.

Please consider adding a bit of JavaScript code that:

  • When focus is on a comment input box
  • When tab is pressed
  • If the preceeding 'word' is 'like' a username in the comment list or post then complete the name (else, tab to the next tab-able element as per normal)
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    I'd do just three characters, but that doesn't work well for assaf, fuchsia, etc... – Pollyanna Jun 12 '10 at 3:36
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    I'd rather support this meta.stackexchange.com/questions/4798/… even if it didn't include the auto-linking. – Jon Seigel Jun 12 '10 at 3:39
  • @jon that was declined, so support it at your peril.. – Jeff Atwood Jun 12 '10 at 3:51
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    Threatened by @Jeff? I feel special! Anyway, what I meant was that I assume that feature request was declined because of the complicated linking/JavaScript stuff. If there was just a reply button that copied "@<username>" into a new comment box, that would have been more likely to get implemented (less work, less complicated). – Jon Seigel Jun 12 '10 at 3:58
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    I think all text boxes should have code completion. – mmyers Jun 12 '10 at 4:08
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    @jon seeing "REPLY!" on the page sends the wrong message, though. I'm just saying, you can support that all you want, but I'm philosophically extremely opposed to it. – Jeff Atwood Jun 12 '10 at 4:16
  • @Jeff: Can you explain what you mean by it "sends the wrong message"? Do you mean with regards to promoting discussion? If you're opposed to seeing "Reply" links everywhere, okay -- but it could be implemented in another more clean way, such as a hidden image like the delete X graphic. – Jon Seigel Jun 12 '10 at 4:23
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    @Jon - in the same way that answers are meant to be a direct response to the question (and not other answers), comments are meant to be a direct response to the answers (or question). While discussion occurs in comments, it is not encouraged as this is not a discussion board. – Pollyanna Jun 12 '10 at 4:28
  • @Pol: Yeah, but then why did Jeff go to a huge amount of effort to support the @ replies in the first place? – Jon Seigel Jun 12 '10 at 4:30
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    @Jon - There is some value in being alerted that someone responded to your particular comment, and a lot of people wanted that feature. I suppose if you get a few hundred votes for it, Jeff might relent, but I don't think it's that important to most people. There's a balance that needs to be found, though, between making the system facilitate good interaction and productive discussion without going so far as to frivolously support unnecessary amounts of discussion. – Pollyanna Jun 12 '10 at 4:52
  • Comments inherited 'enter to submit' from chat, so this feature is a logical next step.... – Benjol Oct 27 '10 at 12:16
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    For those who want autocomplete enough to install a userscript, you can check out SE Modifications </shameless-plug>. – Tim Stone Feb 27 '11 at 3:04
  • @Tim That's awesome, great work. – user154510 Sep 13 '11 at 15:33

This has been officially implemented.

Screenshot of tab name completion with a comment on this question

Note that this feature will not automatically complete names when the conversation is between the OP and 1 other person: it's smart enough to know that the @mention is unnecessary.

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  • Yep, as usual, we're rolling out and testing here on Meta first. – balpha Sep 16 '11 at 20:19
  • @balpha Ah, cool. Thanks for the update! – Chris Frederick Sep 16 '11 at 20:39
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    @downvoter isn't working. :) – Mateen Ulhaq Sep 16 '11 at 23:42
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    @muntoo it's not supposed to be working, so that is correct – Jeff Atwood Sep 17 '11 at 12:30

@Chris Frederick

Note that this feature will not automatically complete names when the conversation is between the OP and 1 other person: it's smart enough to know that the @mention is unnecessary.

What about users who aren't "smart" enough to know that the system works in an inconsistent manner?

They might think that something is broken when the auto complete doesn't work as expected. They might even create "noise" by adding another comment about the fact that the @username functionality appears to be broken.

This isn't a hypothetical scenario, it just happened.

To clarify, the scenario that just happened was that someone commented on a question that I posted and when I went to reply to his comment, I expected the comment system to work in the same fashion as it had on all of the previous occasions that I has used the @username in a comment. It didn't, so it appeared to me that something was broken. I bothered to search in meta to see if I could find out why. Many users won't put in that effort and will wind up "misunderstanding" how the comment system works.

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    -1 So you're suggesting we pretend that it works? People who think it's necessary to @mention the OP have a misunderstanding about how comments work, and are probably the same people who think they can throw a @john somewhere where no John has been participating. The point of removing the unnecessary mention is to teach people. Instead you're suggesting that we make users think what they're doing is working, while in fact it's not. – balpha Jun 18 '12 at 11:58
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    Actually no, I'm not suggesting that we pretend it works, I'm suggesting that it should work in a consistent fashion. Also, the scenario I described was a case where the OP was replying to a comment from another user. – codewaggle Jun 18 '12 at 12:21

Although this has a purpose of making comments faster and easier, it has its downfalls.

For example, there might be multiple users who have their usernames starting with the same few letters. This can mean that you basically have to type out the entire name anyway.

Also, I'm not sure about this, but it might be expensive, one, and it would definitely be a little bit of trouble for the team. I am not sure exactly how much trouble, but it might be enough to create a bit of a hue and cry.

so, this is a good suggestion, and possibly implemented, if the team wishes too, but otherwise, why not just type out the entire name manually? It's simple, and it's not that difficult.:)

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    If usernames start with the same few letters then you tab through the list. Easy. – Aarobot Sep 17 '11 at 2:55
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    well, you don't have to type out the entire name, just the first 3 characters of it, or however many you like beyond that – Jeff Atwood Sep 17 '11 at 12:33

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