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Sometimes I get a red number beside the StackExchange logo, telling me of new stuff in my inbox. What events cause this?

I know that new answers in my questions get added to my inbox, but what about ...

  • comments on a question/answer of mine;
  • comments on someone's question, directed at me (@name);
  • same as the above, but if I've never even read that question;
  • mention of my @name in a chat room I've never been to;
  • partial mention of mine, i.e. @bruce instead of @bruce connor?

Would all of these generate notifications?

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FYI what triggers the inbox doesn't match what triggers the envelope, but I'll only answer RE the inbox.

  • comments on a question/answer of mine;

Yes.

  • comments on someone's question, directed at me (@name);

Yes, but only if you've done at least one of:

  • Made a previous comment against that question or answer.
  • Previously edited that question or answer.
  • same as the above, but if I've never even read that question;

No, for the reasons stated on the previous point.

  • mention of my @name in a chat room I've never been to;

Don't know for sure, but I think not...

  • partial mention of mine, i.e. @bruce instead of @bruce connor?

Assuming the request meets the relevant criteria above, Yes (except possibly on Chat, which needs full names I believe).

The @reply system requires only three letters to match (so @DMA would hit me), and only considers the name given up to the first space. It will ping the person who's name matches, and in the event of multiple possibilities will only ping the person who's activity was the most recent.

Example situation:

  • What OS? - John Smith 15mins ago
  • Should this be on SO? - John Fredrickson 13mins ago
  • @John Smith, I'm on Win7. - OP 5mins ago

Here, the inbox ping will go to John Fredrickson, because they were the most recent user who matches "John" (because the system doesn't consider spaces, the Smith is ignored). Note that (as per the comments) you could use @JohnSmith to target the correct person.

Additional Causes (that you didn't mention)

  • New answers against a question you created.

Additional Breaks

  • You cannot use two @name calls in a single comment - only the first is considered.
  • @DMA As long as you have entered chat and associated the IDs, the inbox notifications will pop up – Sathyajith Bhat Dec 27 '10 at 17:18
  • In the example you mentioned (john smith vs john fred), would it work if I did @JohnSmith (no spaces) ? – Malabarba Dec 27 '10 at 21:01
  • @Bruce I think that would signal no one because there isn't a JohnSmith - I'm not sure though, let me know once you've read this msg and I'll try an @BruceConnor so we can see. | Here is (possibly?) the first post on MSO announcing comment notifications, which might be useful, ignore the bits about it not notifying editors, this was added later. – DMA57361 Dec 27 '10 at 21:08
  • @DMA ok, give it a try. – Malabarba Dec 27 '10 at 21:12
  • @BruceConnor - lets see what happens :) – DMA57361 Dec 27 '10 at 21:15
  • @DMA It works :-) – Malabarba Dec 27 '10 at 21:20
  • @Bruce Well, what do you know. It makes sense I guess! I'll edit something in to the question. Good catch! I wonder if we'd had another user called BruceConnor in this comments thread what would of happened... :) – DMA57361 Dec 27 '10 at 21:22
  • @DMA yeah, in the end there's always the possibility for redundancy. – Malabarba Dec 27 '10 at 21:28
  • As for the chat room part, you may receive the notification if you visit the chat room and say something on it and there's a corresponding @[partialyourname] message within 2 days. See my discussion with Marc in the comments to the answer. I can't verify this but I think we can trust him. :) – Jeff Mercado Dec 28 '10 at 8:21

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