Community Service Announcement

Prepending ‘@’ to somebody’s name does something useful in Twitter.  Outside of Twitter, it’s extra typing and looks silly.

11 Responses to Community Service Announcement

  1. Pre-twitter, it was commonly used in forums and blog comments (and probably other unthreaded systems) to indicate to whom you were replying. Especially useful when replying to multiple comments/posts in one response.

    • Nicholas Nethercote

      Really? I read blogs and forums for numerous years before Twitter and never saw it.

      But what’s wrong with saying “shaver: blah blah” instead of “@shaver: blah blah”?

  2. Looks like github just implemented something to notify you if someone @usernames you: https://github.com/blog/821-mention-somebody-they-re-notified.

  3. Wikipedia mentions usage on forums where there isn’t “proper threaded discussions” [1]

    [1] https://secure.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/wiki/At_sign#Modern_uses

  4. Get with the program.

    @ has always been known as the “AT sign”, because in email it indicated a user at a machine.

    If used at the top of comments on blogs etc where the software is primitive and doesn’t offer proper quoting facilities it indicates a username who has posted before.

    If used at the end of a message it is the signature of the poster, indicating their twitter user name.

  5. It does call extra attention to the fact that a person’s name was mentioned. But I agree it looks silly, too silly for the benefit of the visibility to outweigh how ridiculous it looks.

  6. Twitter only use the at sign because their users did first. The chicken came before the egg, that’s how community innovation happens.

    • Nicholas Nethercote

      Well, today I learned that “@Name” usage predates Twitter.

      I still think it’s stupid to use it in a messaging medium, such as email, where it doesn’t do anything. “Name” works just fine, IMO.

  7. I learned that it does something useful in stackoverflow.com too.

  8. It does something useful on Facebook, too. Type an @ in your status update and start typing a name, and you’ll get a dropdown to pick someone from your friends list to link to.

  9. It’s not just useful for Twitter, Facebook, and Github, but it’s a Uniform Resource Identifier (URI) that identifies the user that’s referenced to.