While I personally despise this change, so long as we have to live with it it needs to be made clearer to new users. I've seen people who are not aware of the @ syntax's affect on notifications get confused. For example, see the second comment on this answer.

If the system is going to edit the user's content for them in this way, then the user should be told what is going on.

  • It could be another pen graphic (in red or something so it's a different color from the one placed there if the user edits) next to the comment to let the user know if it's been edited by the system.
    – jonsca
    Jul 5 '11 at 7:05
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    @Jonsca: I don't think that really solves the problem though. Then the new user just goes "what the hell is this red pen thing?" Jul 5 '11 at 7:06
  • Just like we all went "What the hell is this pen thing next to my comment" the first time. It can have a mouseover to explain just like the "This comment was edited" you get from the black pen graphic. Anyway, just a quick suggestion that popped into my head.
    – jonsca
    Jul 5 '11 at 7:08
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    @Johnsca: An on-hover notification like that might work. Still think that might be misleading though. I would rather see a textual notification to the user. Jul 5 '11 at 7:09
  • Why not both? No, just kidding, a text notification could be useful, it's just a little obtrusive is all.
    – jonsca
    Jul 5 '11 at 7:11
  • I agree...send a notification about this, please.
    – AJ.
    Jul 15 '11 at 0:54
  • I agree, the automated disappearance without explanation confused me repeatedly. Visible change — for example, removal of white space — can help the user to learn. Invisible change — complete removal without explanation does nothing to help learning. Aug 3 '11 at 5:20
  • @Graham try also to start a post with "Hi" and probably also "Hello" and see what happens. Aug 3 '11 at 6:22
  • @ShadowWizard hi, sorry, if that comment appeared ill-mannered or terse. I said please three times in the chat that preceded (linked from my previous comment), thanks three times, and a smiling goodbye. Here in Q&A I assumed that it's good form to not be too chatty/familiar in comments, especially with people I don't know personally — it's so often seen "not a discussion forum" etc. :-) Aug 3 '11 at 9:34
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    possible duplicate of Don't remove the @ part of my comment Mar 21 '15 at 22:28
  • @ʇolɐǝzǝɥʇqoq no it's not. One clearly asking "don't remove" the other asking "alert when it's removed". Mar 30 '15 at 12:39

This is a good idea to help mitigate confusion over a controversial change.

It seems like it would be pretty easy to do, and the same method as the Consider adding a comment to the question popup could be used. It's unobtrusive but noticable:

The @alert at the beginning of this comment was removed as it is unnecessary. See the comment help dialog (under the ADD COMMENT button) for more information.


If you want to understand how comments work, there is already an on-screen display. Simply click the "help" link under the Add Comment button.

comment help link, expanded

Note that this help is pre-expanded by default for all new users, so it is effectively mandatory.

  • 18
    But this help does not contain any hint that @peter is going to be removed, so it's not really relevant to Billy question. Jul 5 '11 at 7:20
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    @Jeff Also the users that are confused are not necessarily new. In the example link that user had 10k rep.
    – JNK
    Jul 5 '11 at 15:04
  • +1 - That actually solves my biggest issue. Would it be possible to link to something like this? meta.stackexchange.com/questions/97524/… Jul 5 '11 at 23:04
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    @billy sure we can add a "learn more" link Jul 6 '11 at 3:24
  • -1 — the visible help teaches the user to explicitly address the one commenter. The system inexplicably undoes what the system tells the user to do. An up for @ShadowWizard Aug 3 '11 at 5:37
  • @graham try reading the screenshot again, the text was updated a while ago. "the post author will always be notified of your comment. Aug 3 '11 at 7:07
  • Maybe there's confusion — at least for me, maybe also for other relative newcomers — about what is a post, what is a comment. To me: this post is an answer authored by poster Jeff Attwood, a response to a post (the opening question) by poster Billy ONeal. Within this one post I see comments (not posts) authored by commenters Shadow Wizard, JNK, Billy ONeal, Jeff Attwood and me. Aug 3 '11 at 9:51
  • @graham I see, that makes more sense Aug 3 '11 at 10:45
  • I must say it's amusing this got [status-declined] even though what I was looking for got implemented. :) Aug 3 '11 at 16:53

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