Mention users in comment

As discuss on #3742, this is something asked but not so easy to implement. If someone has an idea about how to deal with that…

Btw the real issue is #1851 the first one is a duplicate

Note: This discussion was imported from Loomio. Click here to view the original discussion.

For the scope issues Jonne brought up, what are the rules for resharing? Would it be possible to auto-reshare (the post) when mentioning so that the mention-ee (my imaginary word for the person being mentioned) would be guaranteed access.

I’m not familiar with how re-shares work though (only allowed on public posts maybe?) but even a minimal impl of only allowing mentions where re-shares are possible would be a step forward, right?

Reshares are only allowed for public posts. If it’s a limited post it cannot be reshared since that would violate the privacy that the original poster has set for the post.

If anyone feels like wanting to develop this feature I think we should have a quick vote first on how to do it :slight_smile:

How about only allowing mentions in comments of other people who have posted a comment on that post (or of the person who posted the original post)? That way you could alert someone that you were responding to their comment, and wouldn’t have the problem of privacy leak.


  • Mentions in posts of people whom you have placed in an aspect.
  • Mentions in comments of the person who posted the post to which your comment is attached, or of people who have already commented on that thread.

That should avoid problems. It’s a limited functionality, but is better that introducing privacy leaks and shouldn’t introduce difficult database issues.

How does that sound?

@goob, yep that would certainly work and would implement some of the functionality without introducing hard to solve problems due to decentralization.

@Goob the problem is, users will not understand that and will always complain that mention is broken.

And, second, when the user is commenting on the post too, he has a notification anyway, so mention is not really useful here. Personally, I will use it when I read a post which can interested someone but I think this person will not have this post in his stream, so I mention him to show him something which can interest him.

So I am in favor of mention for everyone in public posts for the moment, I think it’s there that it is really useful.

In a different social network (that is not federating yet) I use mentioning as the tool to expand a private posting/discussion to more people.

I am not quite sure if this would be even possible in the architecture of private postings in Diaspora*. But to be honest, everyone who can read a posting is always able to copy and paste this posting to his/her aspects or even public. But if the user is doing so, the discussion is split in two, which is quite annoying, too. And since there might be usecases for expanding the private group of the posting, I would simply allow this feature if it is technically possible.

I’m afraid I disagree, Rasmus. Once a privacy level has been set, it would not be good practice for someone to be able to retrospectively widen the visibility. For example, if you had made a post just to your close friends aspect, and I was in that aspect and commented on it (perhaps giving some private information), and you later made the post public, that would be a bad privacy breach. It’s that sort of thing that Diaspora was set up to avoid (among some other things, of course).

@rasmusfuhse I think you went into a fallacy there. While it’s true that you can just copy & paste something to distribute it further, that’s not intentional, it just can’t be prevented. It’s no feature. And it really is no feature to widen the audience, that’s just the effect it can has. On the other hand if we allow mentions in comments that is a feature, a thing that should work, something your meant to be doing, are encouraged to do. That’s not the case with copy-pasting, that has a way higher mental barrier.

That one is possible doesn’t justify the other. Not at all.

If it isn’t intended to be able to widen the audience of a private posting, that’s okay. Then it would be consequent to not allow mentions in comments of private postings.

So, what to we decide, allow mention in comment only for public post, like reshare ?

I’d say what Goob wrote some way below

  • Mentions in posts of people whom you have placed in an aspect.
  • Mentions in comments of the person who posted the post to which your comment is attached, or of people who have already commented on that thread.

This way for sure technically it can be done. I don’t think “users will not get it” is a good excuse to not introduce wanted functionality.

so if i find a public post written by somebody i don’t share with and i want to point it to you, will i be able to mention you in comment?

I don’t think you can even mention people not in your aspects when creating posts. How would the pod know who to suggest?

But you are in my aspect. The creator of the post is not in.

@jasonrobinson Right now you can mention people in an post using the @. I’m not perfectly sure how it works, as it’s for example possible to share to an aspect and mention someone not in that aspect.

If we’re going to implement mentions in comments, I propose that we do it this way:

  • You can mention anyone in your aspects or anyone of those who have already has commented.
  • If the original post isn’t shared with that person, then the mentionlink is coloured, for instance red. When clicking “Comment” a dialogue is shown, telling you that this person cannot show the post. If you click Comment Anyway, the mention just turns into an ordinary MarkDown link to the mentioned users profile, and the users don’t get any notification.

Then we have no privacy leaks and the ability to mention people! The only thing is that you could use the feature to figure out which of your contacts that belongs to which of the other persons aspects. Don’t know if that’s a problem though.

I’m afraid I disagree with that, Ivan.

I don’t think there is any benefit in @-mentioning someone if they are not going to get notification and will not be able to read the post or their mention. That sounds like a sort of reverse privacy leak - you’re giving other people, who that person might not know, knowledge of their existence with a link to their details. I think that’s a bad idea.

The only workable (technically, and from a privacy point of view) solution seems to me to be @-mentioning people only who are already part of that conversation.

From a privacy point of view, you could also add:

  • people in your aspects, for a public post.
  • people in your aspects and who are also in the aspects to which this post has been shared by the original poster, for limited posts.

But I suspect this would create enormous problems regarding federation and so on. The benefit would not outweigh the problems, from my point of view.

That’s true, you certainly have a point. But the ability to see peoples’ profiles is already some kind of privacy leak. Sure, you give away the knowledge of their existence, but as all profiles are public then doing so without the use of mentions is not super-duper-hard. Nothing prevents you, it’s just to type and you’re done. But yeah in reverse it’s kind of an privacy leak, as this feature makes it easier.

I say the problem lays with the non-anonymity of the profiles. You can only prevent your profile to pop up in the diaspora search bar, not stay anonymous. So there are two alternatives if we want to keep our privacy standards:

  1. We could implement mentions for the ones that has already commented on a post.

  2. We could update how the profiles work and include mentioning all people that’s in your aspects too (maybe we should a new loomio discussion about that?)

As the user agreed if they want to be searchable or not, we can simply check that, no ?

I think we should allow this feature maybe with some restriction but it’s to bad to not have it only for really few weird use cases…

If it’s possible to @mention people in comments who are in your aspects, and you @-mention someone who isn’t involved in a discussion, it also gives away to anyone who sees that that they have a connection to you.

In practical terms, this might not be a problem in many instances, but no one is supposed to be able to see who is connected to whom in Diaspora, and by allowing comment-mentions of people in aspects, we’re breaking the ‘promise’ that connections will not be revealed. It’s a matter of principle rather than practical safety.