So apparently there's a feature (undocumented or otherwise) that allows you to ping people based on the first three letters of their name. I guess I can sort of see what went through its developer's mind but it causes a problem.

My name is Oli. It's short for Oliver. In the Ask Ubuntu chat room, we've recently had three people who match the @Oli ping, me and two with longer names that start "Oli". There are hundreds of people like this in the network.

So when somebody talks to me, they get pinged too. I'm a moderator so people talk to me quite a lot. That means it's got to be pretty hellish if your nick starts with "oli". You're getting loads of pings that aren't actually for you.

In reflection (given that there's tab completion), this is a stupid feature.
It should be taken out back and shot.

This appears to have come up a couple of years ago and got a slight fix but has that since regressed? Today an Oliver was getting pings for me so the full-word-match thing advertised in the answers isn't catching any more.

And in terms of making tab-completion a viable option (not all people know about it, not all people have tab keys, eg phones), how about that if you write a possibly ambiguous @name:

  • It works out who based on who's chatting, and/or
  • Offers the user an option for each ambiguous @name used so only the correct people are ever pinged. Or something similar as the username is tapped in...
  • 6
    Or you pick another name? starts running
    – Rinzwind
    Jun 14, 2014 at 15:53
  • 3
    Tab-completion just forms the same text as manually typing in @Oli. There is no difference, Oliver and Olivier will get pinged when someone auto-completes your name using <TAB> too. Jun 14, 2014 at 15:53
  • 3
    @MartijnPieters What he is saying is that with autocomplete there is no excuse for being lazy and pinging Oliver with just @Oli because you can just Tab to his full name, so the reason the feature was there is now moot.
    – ɥʇǝS
    Jun 14, 2014 at 15:55
  • 1
    @MartijnPieters I'm saying that people don't need to be lazy and only use three-letters to (legitimately) ping somebody, they can just hit tab and say what they mean to say to the right person.
    – Oli
    Jun 14, 2014 at 15:55
  • 3
    @Oli: But your username is @Oli. Jun 14, 2014 at 15:56
  • 1
    @MartijnPieters And they're paying for it. Imagine being an Oliver in our chatroom. You'd get 400 pings a day that weren't meant for you. This isn't a complaint for me, it's one to save other people with longer names with common stems.
    – Oli
    Jun 14, 2014 at 15:56
  • 4
    I suspect it just needs tweaking to match on first shortest match instead of non-deterministic "everything cuz i don't know and won't guess" Jun 14, 2014 at 15:56
  • 4
    @Oli: Right, and pings for @Jon go to Jon Clements and Jonston and Jones, as well as a user named Jon. It should use the same rules as for comments: the most recently active match should be pinged (with a preference for a full match perhaps). Jun 14, 2014 at 16:01
  • cough reply button cough
    – Doorknob
    Jun 15, 2014 at 12:55
  • 7
    I'm getting this issue with '@all'
    – AllenJB
    Nov 6, 2014 at 11:05

1 Answer 1


Remove shortened name chat pinging has 20 upvotes at the time of writing. As you can see, this problem is still very real, and should be addressed.

In my case, the name that is being matched, is "nick".

Pinging @nick shows up for 3 people in room 17 (javascript).

  • nick
  • NickAlexeev
  • NickDugger

The issue is also not just when I'm in chat, but I also get notifications on my phone from the SE app.

The counter argument for keeping the feature is for mobile users, who previously did not have auto complete for usernames, which they now do: https://i.stack.imgur.com/yGnVi.png

This feature no longer holds the same value that I'm sure it used to; please remove it.

UPDATE: I've uninstalled the SE app from my phone, because the pings got way out of hand. You've lost an app user because of this feature... please, please, please fix this.

  • 8
    it has been almost a year since the original post has been raised. yes this is annoying in larger traffic rooms. Especially for people with more common names (like Nick for example). What (if anything) does the short name ping offer as far as positive UX? the system has tab complete, mobile has easily selectable username suggestions.. this seems like a feature which has become more hassle than it is worth. #myTwoCents
    – rlemon
    May 12, 2015 at 20:37
  • 6
    Hey that's me!!
    – nick
    May 12, 2015 at 21:01

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