Could one of the tech support guys (or anyone else who definitively knows) explain precisely how EL&U inbox works?

Does having @username anywhere in comment text cause that comment to appear in username's inbox? Or only if it starts the text? Sometimes I reference @anotherusername within my comment text - and I put the @ in to alert username that the following string is in fact a name, since it might read oddly if he didn't know that. I've no idea if anotherusername is notified or not.

Is username notified of comments starting with, say, just @user?

Does (or could) "inbox" automatically update in any circumstances other than in response to @username in comments? For instance, the next comment immediately following one of yours, if it doesn't have an explicit @username for someone else.

That last one was a bit sly. However it actually does work, might there be (possibly optional, configurable) tweaks to improve the @user experience, that could usefully be discussed here?

Sorry if this has all been covered before, but I can't see anything in FAQ, and obviously I can't actually search for @ in previous questions.

  • @Jasper Loy: Many thanks, that's just what I wanted. Surfing around from there I ended up finding another useful page, which inter alia helpfully explained 'favouriting' so I was able avoid losing it in future... meta.stackexchange.com/questions/7931/… Jun 6, 2011 at 2:17
  • On meta, I don't see 'general reference' as a close option. ;)
    – Mitch
    Jan 26, 2012 at 14:28
  • @Mitch: Will Hunting's link contains significant details that aren't included in any pages directly or indirectly accessed through the standard "Help" links. Also bear in mind that when this question was first asked, the "Help" link shown when entering comments had only recently been introduced. In light of these considerations, and the potential for future changes, I think it would be a retrograde step to actually close this question - this would simply prevent it from being kept current, with no advantages that I can think of. Jan 26, 2012 at 16:41
  • Sorry, I was worried it might be taken too strongly. It's all apparent now, but at the time, actually even now, I can see that it was difficult to find out the information.
    – Mitch
    Jan 26, 2012 at 17:26

2 Answers 2


If you click help under "add comment"...

enter image description here

You will get the comment help text which explains basic @reply functionality. Is there anything there which is not clear?

enter image description here

  • Indeed not. Obviously I'm just too thick to have noticed that Help hotspot before, but it's tempting to think @Jasper Loy didn't either, or he'd hardly have needed to find, hang onto, and pass over to me the more extended version. Something that isn't clear to me though is that I could have sworn I saw your profile earlier today with 131,000+ rep! Am I mistaken, or have you just accepted a rep restart in order to join us lesser (read 'thicker') mortals for a while? Jun 6, 2011 at 5:02
  • oic. That was your rep on the other se site. Proves my point about being thick. Jun 6, 2011 at 11:25
  • @FumbleFingers To be more exact, he is one of the founders of Stack Exchange Inc., the company that is behind the Stack Exchange sites. His reputation is 137K, on Meta Stack Overflow, and 15K on Stack Overflow; On EL&U his reputation is 130, which means he didn't actively partecipate on EL&U.
    – apaderno
    Jun 6, 2011 at 19:39
  • @kiamlaluno: I slept between my first & second comments above, and it was as I got up that I realised about the different sites. So by the time I actually made the second comment I'd already confirmed my suspicions and checked a few more details about the history of SE. I feel slightly honoured, to be honest, and only very slightly miffed at the curtness of his response. He must be a very busy person, obviously, but given that help button wasn't even there until recently I don't think I'm that thick for not noticing it myself after it snuck in quietly! :-) Jun 6, 2011 at 20:19

The definitive guide is at Meta Stack Overflow.

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