Kicks Condor

Reply: Blind Person-Tagging

Chris Aldrich

I’ve never quite liked that Twitter uses @names highlighted within posts. All the additional cruft in Twitter like the “@” and “#” prefixes, while adding useful functionality, have always dramatically decreased the readability and enjoyment of their interface for me. So why not just get rid of them?!

I’m getting a lot out of these ruminations you’re doing about links as notifications. For me, I think I’m going to include a ‘cc’ bit of post metadata, much like I already have ‘via’ metadata, to advertise the original source for a bit of hypertext. Cool idea.

The idea of a ‘bcc’ is even more interesting—it isn’t possible to have secret recipients listed in the HTML. They would need to be encrypted or something. E-mail actually removes the ‘Bcc’ header for recipients. I put this in the same category as encrypted private posts—very tricky to fit into the Indieweb and possibly just wrong for it.

So, I think person-tagging encompasses all of the normal e-mail send actions:

  • Direct reply. The text is meant for that individual to read. It’s important to show the person-tag, because it is important context.

  • Cc. The text is relevant to the individual and it’s relevant to show the person-tag to all readers.

  • Bcc. The text is relevant to the individual, but their connect to it is meant to be private.

And there seem to be other connections beyond these:

  • Mentions. The individual is a subject of the text. While they might be notified of this, it is more important that readers see the connection.

  • Unlinked mentions…? What if you had an individual who was the subject of the text, but you didn’t want to notify them? You may want to include an unlinked @boffosocko, to refer to someone without summoning them. But—what if you wanted to link readers to the person without notifying them?

  • Group syndication. All of the above actions could be used for a group URL (such as IndieNews or as an alias for a group of individuals. This is similar to a mailing list e-mail address.

It feels like there might be much more than this.

I do see the purpose of these “@” and “#” prefixes—as a type of miniature language for simplifying linking. However, there is no distinction between ‘reply’, ‘cc’ and ‘bcc’ with the “@” prefix. ( has a problem—or, at least it did a few months ago—if you send a Webmention to a username, it prefixes the post with an @-mention, even if you’re only mentioning them in the post. This is confusing, because the post may not be a direct reply, but it ends up looking like it.)

I do think Indieweb blog software could improve on these by letting you type shortcut prefixes for ‘reply’, ‘cc’, ‘mention’, etc. types of person-tagging—and then turning them into just normal links or post metadata, rather than keeping the prefixes in there. (I think Facebook does this.)

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