What are mentions on Mastodon? What does @-ing mean?

The word “mentions” on Mastodon and other social networks means typing @ and then a username, so that the username appears in your post. It’s also known as @-ing (pronounced “at-ing”) a person.

When you type @ and then begin typing the username, Mastodon will automatically suggest accounts that you can select if you want. You don’t have to accept these suggestions though, you can keep typing, and the suggestions will change as you type. The ultimate aim of a mention is to get an account’s complete Fediverse address to appear in the post. If the Fediverse account address you want isn’t in the suggestions, just ignore the suggestions and type the account address in full.

Why would I want to mention an account?

Mentioning an account can be useful for several reasons on Mastodon and the Fediverse:

  • Mentions cause a notification to appear in the account’s notifications section, so the account’s owner will know they have been mentioned.
  • It means other people reading the post will be able to click on the account’s mention which will take them to the account’s profile page. They will then know exactly who you are talking about, and perhaps follow them or interact with them in some way.
  • The “Mentions” post visibility setting mean only people mentioned in the post can see it. Have a look at the post visibility guide for more details.

Can I just mention Mastodon accounts? Or can I mention other Fediverse accounts as well?

You can mention any type of Fediverse account. All Fediverse accounts use the same address format of @ (user name) @ (server name).

Most Fediverse account types do notify the account owner if you mention them, but a few (PeerTube for example) do not have a notification system for mentions.

I tried to mention an account but it didn’t work. What went wrong?

If you can’t get a mention to appear properly in your post, hopefully one of these suggestions might help:

  • Are you using the correct Fediverse address for the account you want to mention? You can find the account’s address on their profile page.
  • Did you include the @ symbol at the start of the address? All Fediverse addresses begin with an @
  • Sometimes servers have trouble with mentions for accounts they have never “noticed” before. To solve this, copy and paste the account’s Fediverse address into the search box on your server. After you’ve done this once, mentioning the account should start working and the account should start appearing in the suggestions when you’re typing a mention too.
  • If the account is on a server that your server has defederated, you will not be able to mention them.

Where can I see when I am mentioned by other people?

Mentions will appear within your normal notifications in Mastodon. If you want to see just your mentions without the other notifications, go to the 🔔 Notifications section and click the Mentions tab at the top of the screen.

If you do click the Mentions tab, remember to switch notifications back to the All or Everything tab afterwards if you want to keep seeing other types of notifications. If you don’t do this, you will still get beeps for other types of notifications but you won’t see what they actually are.

I mentioned an account but it appears in the post as a short name instead of a full address. What’s happening?

Fediverse addresses all have two parts: the username and the server they are on (similar to how email addresses are written). For mentions to work, you need to include the full Fediverse address with both parts.

However, for the sake of readability, when the post is published Mastodon usually hides the second part of the address. The second part is still there underneath the surface, and if you click on the mention it will take you to the account’s profile page.

Some mentions have their addresses written in full, while most are shortened. Why is this?

Every account on the Fediverse has a unique Fediverse address, but accounts on different servers may have the same username or first part of the address. This is similar to how in real life people might have the same first name but different surnames.

If two accounts with the same username are mentioned in the same post, then when the post is published the account addresses will be written in full. This is similar to how a real life conversation might mention people’s surnames if they have the same first name, to help distinguish between the two.

I tried to mention an account but it keeps abbreviating it to @example instead of @example@server. Why doesn’t it let me write the full address when I’m editing the post?

If you’re mentioning an account on the same server as you are, then it will by default just show the first part. The second part will be automatically added for anyone viewing the post from another server.

This is similar to how traditional landline telephones allow you to dial a phone number without the area code if you are in the same area.

Can I edit a post to add a mention later?

Yes and no.

You can edit a post and add a mention, but the mention will not generate a notification and it will not make a mentions-only post visible to any mentions that are added by editing.

If you want to get someone’s attention or make a post visible to them, it is better to write a new post from scratch and mention them in it.

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