December 14, 2010

Hashtag Abuse

Hashtags were originally created by the Twitter community to easily group tweets.   The nature of Twitters limited character space gives one just a little leeway on adding a hashtag or two.

A hashtag is similar to other web tags- it helps add tweets to a category. Hashtags have the 'hash' or 'pound' symbol (#) preceding the tag, like so: #traffic, #followfriday, #hashtag.

Hashtags have greatly helped the twitter community and make it a fun place.

Some people though, abuse the use in hopes of being witty and cute.   Sometimes it works, and sometimes, it's just plain annoying.

Take for example the recent burst of tweets from the lotto winner topic.   Some tweets just made their hashtags as cryptic and eyesoar as possible putting together entire sentences and rendering them as hashtags.   The idea of a hashtag is to let other people possibly adapt and use to talk about a certain topic, not to invent and use a new one for each and every tweet.



Here are some tips on using hashtags:

  1. Use twitter search and type some keywords related to your tweet.  Find out if someone else has used any hashtags in relation to the keywords.  If they seem relevant, you can adapt the hashtag.
  2. You can use more than 1 hashtag if you see it fit to categorize your tweet into more than 1 topic.  For example, a sports-related tweet can have both #baseball and #homerun if they're on-topic.
  3. Capitalize each 1st letter of the word if your hashtag is composed of more than 1 word.   #CrashTestDummy is much more readable than #crashtestdummy.
  4. Refrain from using underscores.  Just like registering domain names, it's best not to use underscores.
  5. Don't create variations of a hashtag.  When you create one, stick with it.   #AsianTribe and #AsiansTribe may confuse readers if you're referring to the same thing or not.
  6. Check if your message contains a word that you can use as a hashtag.  If there's one, prefix the # symbol to it so you won't need to type the same word at the end of your tweet.
  7. No j3j3m0n or LoWeRcAsE-uPpErCaSe combination hashtags please.  Hashtags are meant to be read, not encrypted.
  8. Make sure your hashtags are related to your tweet.  Placing a totally irrelevant hashtag to a tweet is just the same as spamming.
Don't abuse your hashtags.  Make them count.

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