Often when I type @[person] at the start of a comment, the @[person] disappears without warning when the comment appears, and even when I try to click on the little white box above to auto-select, it won't allow me to do so. Why is this happening? I seem to always be able to @ people as long as it's not the first word of the sentence, but it sometimes fails when I start the sentence with @. Other people seem to be able to do this fine.

Have I been stealth banned from @ing, is this a bug or is there some bizarre and complex reason for it (like with the weirdness that is the 'Curious' badge rules...)?

  • Sometimes this happens in chat too. Commented Jun 5, 2016 at 17:55
  • 6
    No, not everything is a secret conspiracy against you. In fact, not everything is about you at all. This is a well-documented behavior of the software (and one of the more controversial ones). Before you ask any more Meta questions where you suspect you're the personal target of abuse, you might want to check the FAQ on Meta.se.
    – Dan Bron
    Commented Jun 5, 2016 at 22:09

1 Answer 1


You can't use @ at the start of a comment when you are addressing the post owner and there is no ambiguity about who the comment might be addressed to.

The post owner gets notified of all comments regardless of who they are actually addressed to, so when a comment is actually addressed to them and there is no-one else it could be addressed to, the @ addressee is not required. Where there are already two separate participants in a comment chain, the @ addressee will be retained.

The upside is that those characters within the character count are available to you for your message rather than the name.

Another potential reason is that a username you enter by hand might not actually match the user's actual username, especially if their name uses non-Latin characters. A Cyrillic ะก isn't the same character as a Latin C, even if it looks the same. If you type a name which doesn't match, the system may decide it's irrelevant and discard it.

  • How does the software assess ambiguity? Why does it do it in chat as well? Commented Jun 5, 2016 at 20:03
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    Chat is different and has its own engine (@ will work if the user has been around recently, but won't magically summon a user out of nowhere). In comments, the software assesses ambiguity by the number of separate participants in a comment thread. If there two or fewer, there is no ambiguity about who is being addressed in any comment.
    – Andrew Leach Mod
    Commented Jun 5, 2016 at 20:08
  • So in chat you can't use @ at the start of a sentence if the user hasn't recently been around? That's not the only problem, then, because I've often been unable to @ people when they have written the chat message immediately above me. Commented Jun 5, 2016 at 20:10
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    If you want to link a chat message as a reply to an earlier one, use the arrow symbol at the end of the message, which will prefix your message with :[message-num] -- although this will appear as @[user] when it's posted.
    – Andrew Leach Mod
    Commented Jun 5, 2016 at 20:13
  • 1
    @Peter And you may wish to read through the Meta posts that are tagged [chat-faq].
    – Kit Z. Fox Mod
    Commented Jun 6, 2016 at 11:40

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