We are working in teams on the same files. We developed a mechanism to add markers for oneself or to address other people with the following syntax (similar to the @ addressing mechanism here at the StackExchange networks):

//Bob: I need to remember this place and come back later (addressed oneself)
//Bob @ Alice: Please continue here or please fix this error

With the words of 1006a:

So to put this in English, you currently have a notation that means something like

Bob says to Alice: ...

but you want something that can be read:

Alice, Bob says: ...?

In the tools we use there is a special view where everybody can see this "note". However for a better ordering we need to switch both names but want to keep the meaning. Is there an opposite symbol for the @ (at) sign? I didn't find any so a short word would also suffice. But all the words I can think of don't exactly match the meaning.

// Alice (by Bob): Please continue here or please fix this error
// Alice (from Bob): Please continue here or please fix this error
// Alice (addressed by Bob): Please continue here or please fix this error

The first two sound strange and the last one is too clumsy - isn't there a short version or an @ antonym symbol? Unfortunately a leading @ (e.g. //@Alice (by Bob) ...) is not allowed since that would throw off the ordering. So the addressee name needs to come first.

  • 6
    There is no common answer to this. You are free to make up whatever convention you want. Personally, it looks to me as if you almost have anyway—with the parentheses. // Bob @ Alice: could be seen as semantically equivalent to // Alice (Bob):. Or forgo the parentheses and use something else graphically suggestive. // Alice < Bob:. But anything you do will be quite subjective—and have little to do with English. Nov 19, 2018 at 15:36
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    @Lonzak stack exchange uses – to signify "from" in the comments and @ to signify "to" (but the ndash, mdash, hyphen confusion would discourage me from emulating this). Personally, I'd simplify further and just go with the traditional email version of To: and From:. Or do you require a single character? I'd rather match a string in code than require new team members to decrypt a team-specific alphabet.
    – Pam
    Nov 19, 2018 at 15:45
  • Not a single symbol, but we use "Bob->Alice".
    – jimm101
    Nov 19, 2018 at 16:53
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    So to put this in English, you currently have a notation that means something like Bob says to Alice: but you want something that can be read hey Alice, Bob says:?
    – 1006a
    Nov 19, 2018 at 17:17
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    I suggest this has nothing to do with English. You are working in a language of your own construction, with your own rules. If they don't work then why not either use English, or change your invented language to match whatever constraints you need? Nov 19, 2018 at 20:00

3 Answers 3


The caret (^) is sometimes used for a similar purpose, to identify the author of a tweet.

Mashable said in 2013: "The caret, or hat sign, is used to denote a tweet composed and sent by an individual on behalf of a group account used by multiple people (often a company or organization) account. It usually appears at the end of a Tweet and precedes initials, to indicate which user sent the tweet (e.g., ^JS)." Wikipedia calls this a "Signature tag" (in the Caret article): "a caret placed before a word is used to tag that word as an individual's signature".

Some people say the caret is used because it looks like a hat, and hence in the sense of hat tip (used to acknowledge a source), but I don't know if this is a folk etymology.

  • Thank you! This might have been what I have been looking for. So it could look like this // Alice: Please continue here or please fix this error (^Bob)
    – Lonzak
    Nov 21, 2018 at 7:43

The @tention, in some cases, @ is used for "attention" in email messages originally sent to someone else or @mention symbol is a well known universal concept, there is little need to not draw attention to oneself, however it's not uncommon in such context to bracket [oneself] as editor or even embrace {yourself} pun intended [KJO]

// Alice: you could try this [Bob SquarePants]

Such usage may depend on other syntax clashes. The hashtag was intended to use CamelCase as in this first case

If case acceptable
// Alice:#BobSquarepants Shall I exchange the stack here.


// Alice:Bob=Did * you exchange the stack here.


// Alice<Bob: I suggest you exchange stack here.

End case

  • equally note I have used the = same as in triple tag structure
  • My suggestion was going to be Alice<Bob (or, perhaps, Bob>Alice) where < /> are read as 'from' and 'to'. Not necessarily obvious, but meaningful if they are thought of as arrows (and you could even use/allow <-/->).
    – TripeHound
    Nov 21, 2018 at 15:00

Your project is using the at symbol in a different way than Stack Exchange and social media; a more mainstream way would be

//Bob: @Alice Please continue here or please fix this error

Note the lack of a space after the @ sign, and the fact that it's part of the message, not the header. Your symbolism could be interpreted as Bob directing a message 'at' Alice. But I doubt that there's a commonly accepted antonym for this.

What you could do is replace the @ symbol with something else that represents addressing, e.g. → (or -> if it needs to be ASCII). It's very easy to see what the antonym of that symbol would be.

  • Interesting the arrow could be a solution. e.g. //Alice <- Bob ...
    – Lonzak
    Nov 19, 2018 at 15:51
  • You mean someone not familiar with SE, or Twitter, or Instagram, or Facebook, or just about any other social media out there. I would say the odds of anyone in a team of developers not understanding this use would be exceedingly low. Nov 20, 2018 at 1:15
  • @JanusBahsJacquet Agreed 100%
    – Lonzak
    Nov 20, 2018 at 8:54
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    I don't use Instagram and Facebook, so I never knew...
    – Glorfindel
    Nov 20, 2018 at 9:00

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