When I want to give a comment on a question/answer to a particular user, say David, i generally type

@David: This is blah,blah...

But recently that is the past 2 days, I am observing that the "@" symbol along with the username is never appearing when I give a comment.

I use Google chrome browser, latest version, on Ubuntu $10.10$.

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This happens when the system, in all its Artificial IOntelligence glory, decides that it is redundant (because, for example, you are writing a comment on a question, so it is obviously addressed at the OP) See meta.math.stackexchange.com/questions/2513/… for another instance of the same phenomenon. –  Mariano Suárez-Alvarez Jul 4 '11 at 19:38
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(I like the fact that "hello"s get removed, but I don't like at all the @User thingies to be removed...) –  Mariano Suárez-Alvarez Jul 4 '11 at 19:40
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3 Answers

There are two purposes for putting "@user" in front of a comment. The first is simply to ping the user. The second is to make it clear that the comment is directed to the user (and not, for example, at the person who wrote the previous comment).

The system seems to assume that all uses of @user are for the first reason and removes the "@user" if the user would already be pinged. Therefore, if someone needs to use @user for the second reason, they will need to use a different syntax now, I suppose. For example, "To user:" instead of "@user". I have had to do this myself in a comment recently.

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I love how the script for pruning comments has acted on comments addressed to me. :)

Before:

before script

After:

after script

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I just hope they can be convinced to stop doing this (it's probably too late already). I find the mutilated comments and answers so much more annoying and distracting from content than the way they were before. By the way: When I clicked okay to the user agreement it seemed to speak of "other users" that may edit the contents. By that I understood some mildly intelligent human entity, not the next best and terribly stupid bot. –  t.b. Jul 25 '11 at 7:02
    
Oh, this is definitely a bug! –  Willie Wong Jul 25 '11 at 17:10
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M. and @willie this is now fixed! –  Jeff Atwood Jul 25 '11 at 17:28
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@Jeff: The first bit was intentional then, I presume? ;) (I love it when my inputs break algorithms...) –  J. M. Jul 27 '11 at 2:05
    
An example I only recently found. Very awkward cutoff... –  J. M. May 19 '13 at 6:58
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A few guidelines:

  1. @name is not required, ever, when talking to the post owner. The post owner is always notified of every single comment on their post no matter what, in all circumstances, forever and ever amen. Thus, when we see @postowner used in a comment, and the only people taking in the comments are the post owner and one other user, we remove it to improve the signal-to-noise ratio in the comments.

  2. @name is optional in the case when the post owner is entering a comment after another person. That is:

    question -- User A

    comment (User B): why didn't you frozz the bimblee?

    comment (User A): I tried frozzing the bimblee but then my nachos reticulated.

    Here, B would be notified of A's comment even without @username because it can be reliably inferred. Obviously the post owner, User A, is not talking to him/herself here...

  3. You only need to enter the first 3 characters of a name for a valid match to a previous commenter username, so when replying to Oguers Ancewwa you do NOT need to type @oguersancewwa -- just type @ogu or @oguers

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It's a cardinal sin to sneakingly alter text composed by the user. Ditto for forging text, as in the text composed when the system automagically forces discussion into chat rooms (this is very unnerving to some folks - e.g. see the tail end of the comments here). Why don't you hire some professionals with solid human factors experience? They'd easily spot these huge gaffes. –  Bill Dubuque Jul 4 '11 at 20:47
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@bill Feel free to raise it on ux.stackexchange.com if you like, but all our traffic indicators keep going up. Suppression of noise and enhancement of signal is the goal. Editing of submitted text, ala Wikipedia, is part of the FAQ. math.stackexchange.com/faq#editing –  Jeff Atwood Jul 4 '11 at 21:15
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@Jeff Atwood: When the comment is "santized" from the @name it only removes the first word with the @, not the username. This results in comments starting with a proper final segment of the user name "M. Scott" or "Atwood", and so on. Please correct this behaviour by identifying the username wholly and removing it completely. –  Asaf Karagila Jul 5 '11 at 15:16
    
@asaf this was corrected a while ago, see meta.stackoverflow.com/q/97421 –  Jeff Atwood Jul 6 '11 at 2:59
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I would view it as very impolite to abbreviate the real name of a person I do not know. In fact I go out of my way to type the exact username of many users when I use an @ to ping them, with the exact capitalization they chose. I would find it odd for anyone to ping me as "@Car", because my name is not Car, and I would feel very uncomfortable mangling someone else's name in that way. –  Carl Mummert Jul 9 '11 at 1:52
    
@Jeff: in light of your response to Asaf's comment, can you take a look at J.M.'s answer above? –  Willie Wong Jul 25 '11 at 17:11
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