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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

This question appears to be off-topic. The users who voted to close gave this specific reason:

  • "This question pertains only to a specific site in the Stack Exchange Network. Questions on Meta Stack Exchange should pertain to our network or software that drives it as a whole, within the guidelines defined in the help center. You should ask this question on the meta site where your concern originated." – Martijn Pieters, Danubian Sailor, Shadow Wizard, Josh Crozier, CRABOLO
If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

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
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: – 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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