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Is it S[OUF]?

Just wondering

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closed as off-topic by Martijn Pieters, Danubian Sailor, Shadow Wizard, Josh Crozier, CRABOLO Apr 30 '14 at 22:23

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Doesn't this belong on SO? – Nathan Fellman Aug 12 '09 at 6:19
For some reason, I wish they all spelled out STFU. – Troggy Aug 12 '09 at 7:02

5 Answers 5

up vote 2 down vote accepted


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oops I think I've just ruined you beautiful 404 rep number ( not found? ) – OscarRyz Aug 12 '09 at 4:41
now it's either a Nigerian scam or a dead body: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/419_(number) – Kyle Cronin Aug 12 '09 at 4:47

Well, you should specify begin and end with word boundaries, otherwise if someone curses:


you might get an unintentional match. So that gives us:


We might also be interested in detecting things like S.O.. But we don't want to pick up S.O -- that's just silly. So we can introduce an optional . in a group, and then refer back to it:


At this point, things get a bit tricky, since we still want the trailing wordboundary, but only if we didn't match a dot (since \b won't match between a dot and a space, for instance). Maybe a negative lookbehind..? I'm open to assistance on this point.

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who refers to it as S.O. ? – Jeff Atwood Aug 12 '09 at 6:28
Me, as of now. – Ian Elliott Aug 12 '09 at 6:38

Yes. There are many possible ways to write it:








(Notice that ?: makes a non-matching parenthesis so that it doesn't affect the result of the match.)

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I prefer plain old (SO|SU|SF|MSO).

A regex to match 4 possible sites is overkill if you ask me anyway.

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Why even abbreviate Meta at all - you only save 1 character going from "Meta" to "MSO" – Kyle Cronin Aug 12 '09 at 5:54
To save a character.:) – jjnguy Aug 12 '09 at 6:24
I just go with "meta". It's as many keypresses as MSO and doesn't make me think of miso. – Hilarious Comedy Pesto Aug 12 '09 at 12:49

If you're talking regular expression, then it has to be something like


where you're given a choice among the letters in the parentheses, but at least one is to be chosen at a time. Or streamlined to:


Which, as pointed out, matches up with one character. And the S is looking to join in on that bracket orgy.

Or this dupe: What's a good way to refer to all four sites?

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Nope. [OFU] matches exactly one character, it's not optional. Not to be confused with [O|F|U] that also matches the pipe character. – Guffa Aug 12 '09 at 5:43

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