The @ mention of friends or pages on Facebook has been a success since it debuted in 2009. People inherently like to include others in their communications, and tagging a friend is the surest way to make sure that they see the post.
But the problem with mentions is that they can feel clunky, and can unnecessarily lengthen a post. Nobody wants to produce a clunky, long post - much less read one. I have plenty of friends with long names, or those who use their middle names, or those that make up middle names (you know who you are). No offense, but if I want to mention you in my status update, I don't want "Jessica Danger Womanofyourdreams Johnson" taking up real estate in my post.
To that end, Facebook is now allowing the shortening of @ mentions within posts. My long named friend above can be shortened to "Jessica Johnson" or even "Jessica." They will still be tagged in the post, linked, and notified. Here's how it works in practice:
Any friend's name can be shortened to names that are adjacent, meaning my good friend "Karl Thomas Wetzel" above could be shortened to "Karl," "Wetzel," "Karl Thomas," or "Thomas Wetzel," but not "Karl Wetzel." You can also only shorten friend's tags, not events, groups, pages etc. Unfortunately, that means that every time I feel like @RIDING IN ON A UNICORN AND STABBING SOMEONE IN THE FACE, it's going to be a long post.
Another @ mention feature that was being tested is now rolling out live for everyone. You don't need to use the @ sign to tag friends. If you start typing a friends name with a capital letter, Facebook will drop down the tag menu after 5 letters for a person's name longer than 5 letters, and after the completion of their name for those with less characters.
Like I've said before, it's the little things, Facebook. And this will help to shorten and de-clunkify tagged posts. And anytime we can de-clunkify Facebook, that's a good thing.
Hat tip to Google+Reader">Inside Facebook