Facebook has enhanced its auto-suggest and tagging feature so that the @ key is no longer required.
Now if you start to type a proper noun into the status bar, you would be prompted with a drop-down menu listing any corresponding names among your friends, pages or groups. If you select one, the name would appear in your status update or wall post as a hyper-link. Previously you needed to trigger the tag by typing @ first.
It seems that the feature only works when you use a capital letter. So for me, typing “Book” prompts suggestions related to BookCrossing or the Book Passage Travel Writing & Photography Conference, while typing “book” is just treated as a normal word. As ReadWriteWeb comments, this is probably sensible – you wouldn’t want Facebook to suggest your friend Tom every time you type the word “tomorrow”.
Facebook introduced tagging in September last year and it has proved a popular feature with users, because it’s an easy and elegant way to notify your friends when you mention them. If I tag my friend Sara in an update, that update will appear on her wall. Since I can tag more than one person in an update, it’s also a great way to write on several walls at the same time. I think the tagging leads to more social interactions because people are trained to links.
The same functionality works with pages and as an administrator, I appreciate being able to link to other pages and know that the favor will not go unnoticed.
I imagine this enhancement, while it seems minor, would lead to an increase in tagging activity. The system will now prompt users to tag rather than relying on them to remember the @ trick and act upon it. I believe that the easier and more intuitive tagging is for users, the more they will do it – and that’s a good outcome for Facebook and all its users.
I think this is a simple enhancement that will improve the user experience without being a disruptive change. What do you think?