Using @ to reply ... grrrr!


Does anyone else find this annoying?

I have users that are starting to do the following:

  • using @ username to aim replies instead of hitting the reply button on their post
  • using this technique to reply to multiple users in the same post (>3!)

What happens is that then we start to get several threads of discussion going on within each post that invariably get off Topic and it makes it impossible to unpick this by shifting posts around and creating new topics where appropriate, rendering the ‘soft touch’ moderating tools not useful.

Then to top it all we started getting:

  • Off-topic personal one to one’s in posts tacked on so someone would direct an aside to an individual user (“Oh hi @ Jake, how’s your wife doing?”) (A pet hate: the "Get a room! " publicly-private message)
  • then that user replies back with another @ username reference.

Now of course I’ve followed up by highlighting how annoying this is and hopefully it will have an effect.

And yes, of course, I am partly to blame as I let this mode of behaviour emerge too much without nipping it in the bud … but I was trying to be hands off and let my users ‘enjoy’ themselves. It went too far.

If it persists I’ll start by deleting all but the first reply in each post.

Anyone else had this happen and got annoyed by it?

Am I being too harsh on my users wanting to stamp this out?

NB I’m not blaming Discourse for any of the above. The functionality is all there for a reason, it’s just not being used correctly.

Perhaps we could have a setting to limit the number of @'s allowed in a post (does it exist?)?

(Stephen) #2

My only real objection to it is when people start a fresh topic on a community but call out a specific user they want to respond. I don’t mind it in replies if the topic is one the mentioned user has already participated in.

Nine out of ten times that knowledge exists in more than one head.

My bigger irritation is bumps and self-replies. I would love to see self-responses auto-merged with no bump.


Yup, that would be great!

(Jeff Atwood) #4

That’s a very interesting proposal.

Right now @nbianca is working on a numeric limit to the number of sequential replies a user can make to a given topic, controlled by site setting, default to 3. I think that will be very helpful and is in the same vein as your proposal.

(Stephen) #5

That will certainly help, the bumps are an annoyance but so is the extra UI between posts. Wondered for a while if it was achievable with a plug-in.


On my issue in an ideal world I’d love to have the ability to split a post in two at an arbitrary point to tackle where parts of posts are going off topic. Then it’s much easier to shift that off topic section to another Topic.

Right now you have to manually cut text, create new post as yourself, and Change Ownership back to original poster. But of course this creates a post potentially very out of step with the original post if you are intervening late.

I respect that due to data schema optimisation this may not be possible as post IDs maybe consecutive?

(Jeff Atwood) #7

See, that was your first mistake. :wink: