[PR FAQ] Tagging users in posts and comments

by Aaron Gertler4 min read2nd Oct 20215 comments

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Effective Altruism Forum
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The EA Forum team is sharing our project proposals publicly on the Forum. They’re written as though the product were already finished, but they are in fact proposals. See here for a description of PR FAQs.

We appreciate hearing comments from everyone, even if they are brief opinions like “I quickly skimmed the PR FAQ and it doesn’t seem like this is something I would use, but I’m not sure.” 

Note that we’re not guaranteed to release any given feature we propose here, even if a lot of people like something — but feedback definitely helps us set priorities.

User tags give Forum readers an easy way to share conversations

The Forum’s users can now use “@” tags to alert people to the existence of posts and comments, in another step toward our eventual subsumption of Facebook.

Summary

You’ll now have the ability to alert people to a post or comment you think they should see by “tagging” them — typing their username and adding an “@” symbol in front. This will send them a notification, giving you their attention without the need to send a separate message.

Problem

Sometimes, you want to share a post or comment with another Forum user. Right now, that means sending them a message with a link to the post and an explanation of why you think they should see it. You have to leave the page, and you’re forced to write two separate things (the post or comment and the message), rather than smoothly combining them.

Solution

Tagging users is a faster, more convenient way to alert them to a post or comment. There’s a reason this feature is so widely used on platforms like Facebook and Twitter — it’s an efficient solution to a common problem.

Getting started

To tag a user, just type the “@” symbol, followed by their username. Once you’ve typed the “@” symbol and begin entering the name, you’ll see usernames pop up that match your first few letters. When you see the name you want, just click on it to complete the tag. 

Once you publish your post or comment, the tagged user(s) will be notified (as long as they have that form of notification turned on).

Quotes

“I expect tags to create lots of new conversations that might not have happened otherwise, by giving people an easy way to loop friends and experts into relevant threads.”

— Aaron Gertler, Content Specialist, CEA

“This is much easier than sending emails to people at other orgs when I want their thoughts on a post. I’m excited to see what Jason Schukraft thinks about this question on invertebrate welfare.”

— Anne M. L. Wellfair, animal advocate

Call to action

You can start tagging people right now! 

You can choose how to be notified when people tag you in your user settings, next to your other notification options. You can also turn off tagging for your account, so that your name won’t come up when people try to create a tag — just uncheck the “other users can tag me” box in your settings.

FAQs

What made you decide to build this feature?

We heard from quite a few users that they would be interested in this functionality. They often wanted to get someone’s opinion on a piece of Forum content, but found it onerous to send a personal message or email in some of those cases. 

We’re also interested in helping people curate their Forum experiences more generally — moving beyond a single page of articles to help people focus on content they find relevant. Tags are part of this. It’s a lot easier to decide what to read, and where to spend your time commenting, when people tag you to get your thoughts on something.

Are there any limits on who’s allowed to use tags? What about spam?

Anyone can use tags. The feature takes a bit of knowledge to find, so we don’t expect spam accounts to use it.

Is it rude or weird to tag someone I don’t know personally?

We don’t think so. The EA community is a place where it’s very normal to send emails to people you haven’t met, and most of us enjoy answering questions and being helpful where we can.

However, it helps to make your tags thoughtful — they should provide enough context that the tagged person doesn’t need to read through a long post or comment thread to understand what’s going on.

I can’t find someone in the tagging system. Is this a bug?

If you don’t see a username come up when you try to tag them, this almost certainly means one of two things:

  1. You have the wrong username, or the wrong spelling — see if you can find their account in the Forum searchbar to make sure.
  2. The person decided that they didn’t want to be taggable.

Is this going to lead to a lot of annoyance when people are tagged who don’t want to be bothered?

We hope not. That’s why we’ve made it easy for people to remove themselves from the tagging system. We also think that a few unwanted tags are a small price to pay, compared to the number of new comments and conversations that could follow from this.

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5 comments, sorted by Highlighting new comments since Today at 9:37 AM
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I'm a bit skeptical tbh. It feels as though it might lead to a lot of spammy consisting of either just a tag or a tag plus something like "Check this out"

@Aaron, please add this!

Yes, please!

Seems like a fairly reasonable feature, and it’s quite common across many platforms.