Often, commenters will respond to a specific previous comment by commenter 'Bob' like so:

"@Bob: Good idea, but ther's a problem."

Some months later, Bob changes his name to 'Bobby'. Now, his comments will be signed with 'Bobby', but the comment referring to his still reads '@Bob'.

Could the administrators refactor the site, so all @Bob references get changed to @Bobby?

This issue can become confusing or even indecipherable in a comment discussion.

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    $\begingroup$ 1. I think your question may be more appropriate on the mother Meta.SE. 2. Comments should not be used for discussions, so this should not be a problem. $\endgroup$
    – Bernhard
    Commented Aug 30, 2015 at 8:49
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    $\begingroup$ @Bernhard 2 is correct, but one may change names for privacy/safety/security reasons, in which case it may be desirable for all references to said name change. $\endgroup$
    – tpg2114
    Commented Aug 30, 2015 at 13:27
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    $\begingroup$ This is covered many times on the mother meta. Because names are note unique, changing the @-tags is fraught with danger and difficulty, and comments are ephemeral anyway. $\endgroup$ Commented Aug 30, 2015 at 15:32
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    $\begingroup$ I was not aware that a mother meta existed. However, the rare situation where two identically named commenters comment on the same question and one of them changes his name can be spotted and refactoring could be suspended here, as confusion in this case will happen any way. $\endgroup$
    – yippy_yay
    Commented Aug 30, 2015 at 16:17
  • $\begingroup$ @yippy_yay I am also bothered by your misuse of refactoring. From line 1 on the wiki: "Code refactoring is the process of restructuring existing computer code without changing its external behavior. " $\endgroup$
    – Bernhard
    Commented Aug 30, 2015 at 18:18
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    $\begingroup$ Well, it might be bit sloppy, but renaming a variable is a prime example of refactoring in code, so the analogy to the process of relabeling all the references to a user should be obvious. BTW, thanks for pointing out the existence of mother.meta - I simply wasn't aware it existed. $\endgroup$
    – yippy_yay
    Commented Aug 30, 2015 at 19:04
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    $\begingroup$ For more clarity, here's a link to the mother meta, a.k.a. Meta Stack Exchange. That's the place to go with overarching questions and suggestions about the site engine and which hold throughout the Stack Exchange network. And, of course, search first before you ask there. $\endgroup$ Commented Aug 30, 2015 at 20:11
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    $\begingroup$ This is a nice idea, and one that comes up fairly frequently. It's also been declined since at least 2009. One of the main reasons is that comments are pure text, so if (to continue your example) there are two or more Bobs in the thread, there's no way to know which Bob the comment was intending to refer to. $\endgroup$
    – Pops
    Commented Sep 1, 2015 at 14:31

1 Answer 1


I'm not an admin, but I suspect if you ask them, they would say no, for the following reason: comments are ephemeral. They're meant for requesting clarification or suggesting changes, both of which are inherently temporary purposes. By the time a few months pass, a comment will have outlived its usefulness, and if it contains a confusing reference to another member, the better solution is to just delete the comment. (Corollary: please flag such comments!) Keeping all comments updated with name changes would be a waste of a considerable amount of computing power.

I will note that we don't actively enforce the rules on what comments can be used for (i.e. clarification and changes), but still, this feature would only be relevant for comments that should be deleted anyway.

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    $\begingroup$ Right, but if I make comments and then change my username, the comments that I made DO change their attribution. This seems rather inconsistent. $\endgroup$
    – ProfRob
    Commented Nov 10, 2023 at 13:02
  • $\begingroup$ Yup. Those two uses of usernames are stored very differently under the hood (or at least, it's a very reasonable assumption that they are), so it's natural that they will behave differently. Specifically, when you make a comment, your authorship is recorded as an account number/identifier, and every time the comment is displayed, the system just looks up your current username; whereas when you mention someone else in a comment, their name is just part of the text of that comment. $\endgroup$
    – David Z
    Commented Nov 10, 2023 at 22:06
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    $\begingroup$ @Prof The problem is even worse, since to ping people it is sufficient to use parts of the username, making such an attribution even harder. $\endgroup$ Commented Nov 12, 2023 at 2:46

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