Community Service Announcement

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

11 replies on “Community Service Announcement”

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.

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”?

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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