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Question on "Netiquette": is it okay to use @ mentions to get specific people interested in a question?

Every once in a while when I write a question I already have specific community members in mind who - based on past experience - may have an answer. Is it okay to then make them aware of the question via @ mentions or is it better to just wait and hope they'll happen upon the question in the not too distant future?

So, by way of an example, I was wondering if I could simply have mentioned Olga Dolinskaja in the ATC-related question I asked today. Uwe Fetzer recently did this and mentioned both Olga and myself at the end of his question and while I most definitely don't mind getting "@ mentioned" that doesn't mean that everybody is happy to receive them, esp. dependent on the potentially high numbers of mention-notifications some members might get.

So, is there a guideline if, when and how (often) to @ mention somebody?

Cheers

Bärbel

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11 Comments

  • Oct 11 at 07:10 AM

    If the rest of social media is any indication then @ mentioning is basically the thing that happens. I got into a debate with a few analysts not long ago about this very question and the consensus seems to be, at least from that group was, if you don't want to be tagged into conversations then don't make yourself available on the platform. At first I thought it was a harsh response but at the same time it seems to be the choice we make when using platforms that allow it. Their logic was for example in Twitter was if you don't want to be tagged then don't use it same for Facebook, StackOverflow, etc. it's a choice we all make when signing up. My stance at the time was how I wondered about the issue since for years I would hunt down folks like Thomas Jung and Rich Heilman at TechEd when an attendee had a question I thought they could answer. Neither of the two ever refused to help a person and only occasionally gave me a hard time about it. Now the crazy thing is - I did that in the real world but this probably the first time online where I am dragging them in via an @ mention to a virtual thread. The analysts I was debating with told me that in their minds it was all par for the course and something that in today's world was becoming the norm.

    What we all agreed to though was that you would only do it so long as the person you pulled in didn't complain or ask you not to, or as long as you didn't do it repeatedly or over use it.

    Personally I actually prefer it these days as it's the only way I can usually keep up with the massive number of conversations that are happening and not miss something, but then I also don't get a choice either based on my role. I've also a new profound respect for our "messages" system here in the community and an even deeper respect for some of the folks who have reached out to me directly with open minded feedback and new ideas and suggestions for the future.

    • Oct 11 at 07:47 AM

      Thanks, Craig!

      From your comment:

      "What we all agreed to though was that you would only do it so long as the person you pulled in didn't complain or ask you not to, or as long as you didn't do it repeatedly or over use it."

      Not sure if this has merit or not, but how about providing an option on our profiles where we could individually indicate something like "happy to have content brought to my attention via @ mentions" or "please refrain from using @ mentions to get my attention" (or whatever wording makes sense). I for one would be happy to check profiles and to take my clues from there.

      Cheers

      Bärbel

      • Oct 11 at 07:54 AM

        No promises of course but let me see if the current setup would allow for something like that, it's an interesting idea but based on the implementation could determine if something could be done or not. Might be something where we can split the notifications and move the "mentions" to separate tab or something...

      • Oct 11 at 12:52 PM

        Well, if no-one has complaint so far, I would suggest to leave it as it is: Feel free to mention someone unless they tell you not do do so (or not in that context)... Say, if you would mention me in an ABAP-related topic, I would certainly have to tell you that this is not my area of expertise... Therefore, a general "don't mention me" rule might be not fitting, either.

        ----

        I'm sure (and I'm sure you will agree) there are lots of more important issues to fix and/or optimize within the SAP Community platform...

  • Oct 11 at 11:04 AM

    I think it's generally ok, and I occasionally use it. I indeed do think that's at least 50% of what @-mentions are made for.
    (The other part contains "shout-outs" like "Thanks Bärbel Winkler for bringing up this topic!").

    In regards to state of the art social media platforms, and how they handle this, I checked Mastodon and found out it's just like I expected:

    I can control how (/if!)mentions are presented to me:

    So this is something I would disagree with your groups consensus, Craig Cmehil : I, the user should be able to control my experience, to make it fi to my needs.

    For SAP Community this could be achieved by providing switches "get notification yes/no" similar to e-mail notifications.
    (The caption actually has the right wording already: "What notifications would you like to receive?" )

    Best

    Joachim

    • Oct 11 at 11:51 AM

      Good points but that dives into technical requirements and specifications - hence jumps beyond the original question and makes the suggestions that much more complicated. Again I'll take the suggestions and see what might be possible.

  • Oct 11 at 01:02 PM

    I think it's fine to do. We all get busy with "real" work. When that happens, we don't get to the community as much as we can. If I get that e-mail with my name mentioned. I make an effort to get to the that specific question/blog. I'm guessing others do the same thing.

  • Oct 11 at 02:33 PM

    The topic sorta came up before: https://answers.sap.com/articles/419165/dont-tag-me.html.

    People didn't like the idea of their names becoming user tags, but nobody seemed to object to @mentions.

    --Jerry

    • Oct 11 at 02:46 PM

      Yes, I had seen that thread but didn't want to "tag on" my only somewhat related question :-)

      Cheers

      Bärbel

  • Oct 11 at 05:05 PM

    Note today's example (https://answers.sap.com/questions/661960/what-procedure-have-to-be-followed-to-prepare-the.html) where the OP made an attempt to tag a bunch of folks in the user tags (not @ mentions). Now, in this case, no notifications would have been sent to the individuals in question, but this sort of "shotgun" tagging, if it was used "correctly," would create a lot of spam notifications to people who probably don't care about the topic of the question (and a few who do, like Craig, who in fact did respond to the question).

    I worry about this sort of "abuse" of tagging people who are, after all, mostly volunteers here with day jobs that occupy their time. It doesn't seem to really be happening in the @ mentions, but it is happening a lot in the user tags. If you're curious whether anyone has tagged you in this way, try navigating to https://answers.sap.com/topics/matt+fraser.html (my name as example, but put in your own). Of course, that assumes they spelled your name out correctly or fully.

    At the moment, it seems to be a non-issue. As far as "netiquette" of doing so is concerned, I would think it's appropriate if you are tagging someone with whom you've had prior interaction on a related topic, or if you think it's something they would be especially interested in, but it's inappropriate if you're simply tagging everyone you've seen as some sort of expert, no matter how unrelated to your question. The latter is no different from the old cross-posting in multiple spaces issue, or adding dozens of unrelated secondary tags, and would only serve to annoy people.

  • 4 days ago

    Yes it is fine. However, there are limits. Don't overuse or overshare. Stay relevant and on point and try your best to tag someone who may be interested in. Similar to polite dinner conversation. :-)

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