In the context of looking-up users with @-mentions, what are the pros and cons of starting showing results right after @ has been typed or only after first letter (eg, @e. The number of users can be anything from under ten to 200-300, and more.

Eg, should typing @ serve as discovery mechanism of this feature in the particular field? If not, what can be the affordance for that? (or is it even a problem for users to discover the feature? In this setting, many other fields do not have @-mentions capability when some do)

(I have seen What is the recommended minimum characters limit for auto-complete/filter? , but thought to ask more specifically of 0 or 1 characters after @)

1 Answer 1


If you only start showing results after the first character is typed, you'll want to either recognize similar characters, accented vs un-accented characters, etc, or make sure all names start with ASCII characters. (Otherwise, Americans at least will have a bit of trouble targeting the right username.) On the bright side, you'll have fewer names to show in your results, and you're less likely to pop up a bunch of names when the user wasn't trying to mention someone.

If the character @ can appear other than in a @-mention, then popping up the box immediately on seeing a @ might be a bit distracting, and without anything to filter it, may contain hundreds of results -- and thus will be near useless at first as anything other than a hint that @ is magical in some way.

Discoverywise, showing on @ will be easier to find without preexisting knowledge, but both options depend on a user knowing that you can mention them by prepending @ to their name. That's a common convention thanks to Twitter, but others might not already know about it.

  • Ok. What about other ways to tell "this field supports @-mentions"?
    – Roman Susi
    Commented Aug 28, 2018 at 15:26
  • @RomanSusi: One way would be to have a button to do it. Personally, i'd click a new button just to see what it does. And if all it does is prompt for a name and then insert that name with a @ before it, or insert or remove the @ before the current word, that ought to hint that @ is somewhat magical. (Even if the user never gets the hint, though, they still have a way to do mentions.)
    – cHao
    Commented Aug 28, 2018 at 15:52
  • Do you mean placing a [@] button near the input area and when button pressed, the normal lookup list appears and then what? Will it insert the mention at the cursor in the text input?
    – Roman Susi
    Commented Aug 28, 2018 at 15:55
  • @RomanSusi: Something like that, yes. A button doesn't require the user to already know about @-mentions. (But you might need a slightly more descriptive button text. With no context, i'm not sure why, but i'd assume a button labeled [@] has something to do with email addresses.)
    – cHao
    Commented Aug 28, 2018 at 16:06

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