To @ or not to @

When replying to someone, is it good practice to also @ the person in the reply message or is that redundant?

On one hand, I can see how @ them makes it more personal and shows intention, but on the other hand I can see it being annoying and possibly giving them too many notifications (depending on what notifications they have set up).



It depends? As always, it depends on your specific community. As you said, it already notifies you if someone replies to you so mentioning someone is just a way to grab one’s attention so they really read your post.

Sometimes I mention people when replying because they have a strange username AKA not a name. (example).

In my opinion it sounds odd to do this: “Hello ExyTa165A” in comparison to “Hello Stephen”. So I just @ them if they don’t have a name as a username.


It’s redundant if you hit the reply button on their Post (and also if you reply to their Topic)

@ is generally useful when invoking the attention of third parties (though over-use is discouraged because it might not be appropriate to bother someone with a notification)


I don`t mention anyone here never. I learned my lesson :smirk: So, if a system does notification that is enough. And if not, so it will be.

On other forums I use mentions, though.


The notifications won’t be duplicated if it all happens within a single post — this post is a reply, has a quote, and I can mention you @pamelay… and you should only get one notification.

I believe the mention gets priority in this situation when determining what kind of notification this will create, because saying someone’s name is probably a slightly stronger signal than simply responding to what they said.

If I didn’t mention you, you’d get a notification for the reply. And if it wasn’t a reply, you’d get a notification for the quote.


I don’t think so. I’m notifying you by just replying to this, and even though replying and pinging is just one notification, it’s the very small bit of effort and time you could’ve saved by just not hitting two keys on your keyboard (or technically one on mobile, but I’m not here to complicate things).

I think there’s often an ambiguity about whether a response is to the head post or to the immediately preceding post. In which case it can be useful to quote a few words or to @ the author.


In general would say is probably better to use the @ symbol if you are going to write someone’s user name, so then if the username is changed or account is anonymized the mentioned name will update to reflect that.


We encourage it for this reason. Keeps us more gdpr compliant.


And has absolut nothing to do with GDPR.


I would say that it very much depends on the culture and use-case of the community.

If people @ me here it drives me nuts, but I recognise that I’m an outlier because of my profile and the fact that I spend my life on here.

In our internal Discourse instance we @ people if we need their specific attention but we actively don’t if we are just referring to them because it creates notification fatigue.

If I put on my community manager hat I would say that you should generally only @ someone if you are calling them into a discussion that they haven’t already been a part of.


I left out a lot of context. When I anonymise an employee’s account, all @ are also anonymised. However normal mentions of the name are not.

For example, if I say your full name here in this topic, but you invoke your right to be forgotten: you aren’t. The account name etc is anonymised, but i can get your full name from the post it was written in.


That’s true. And has nothing to do with GDPR.

Can you elaborate?

My point here is that the ability to anonymise is not satisfied when i use your name Jakke Lehtonen instead of @Jagster .

Recital 26 defines anonymous information, as ‘…information which does not relate to an identified or identifiable natural person or to personal data rendered anonymous in such a manner that the data subject is not or no longer identifiable’.
The GDPR does not apply to anonymised information.

Anonymisation and Pseudonymisation | Data Protection - UCL – University College London.

However, now you can be identified because the non tagged version of your name is not (currently) handled during the anonymisation process. I.e. your account, even if annonymised, can now be identified as yours because i used your full name instead of the tag. In public forum, perhaps there is more doubt, but in a company that has a registered list of employees and deep personal contact, i know exactly who owned certain “anonymised” accounts because their name is used without the @ mention.

Could you explain how gdpr is still satisfied in spite of this so I can see where my misunderstanding is?

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To meet the requirements of GDPR all that would mean is that Jakke could request removal of his name. There is no requirement to automate that in any way.


Agree, the “how” is not part of the requirement.

My understanding of the requirement is as follows:

if a person leaves a company, you generally need to assess whether there is a legitimate reason to retain their personal information. If there is no legal, contractual, or legitimate business reason to keep the data, GDPR principles dictate that you should delete or anonymize this information to comply with the regulation’s requirements for data minimization and purpose limitation.

Which raises the following questions:

How do we ensure anonymity if the user’s name is attributed to the account in ways which don’t get automatically anonymised? Do we need to manually search for the name of the user and manually remove those traces tied to the account?

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How you decide to act is up to you – it’s probably legitimate to put the onus on the person requesting anonymisation to find the posts that need editing.


Unfortunately this is only possible in a platform where they have indefinite access to their account. When they leave the company they have no ability to do this. Many don’t even know about their right to do this too.

To get ahead of this, our data office expects anonymity within 90 days of leaving the company. We currently use the anonymisation functionality as part of that. Unfortunately the casual use of names without @ doesn’t get included with this, so it leaves us with an extra effort and uncertainty when anonymising accounts.


Yeah that’s pesky, but that’s your rules, rather than what the law dictates (noting for other people).