Twitter Tuesday: #hashtag #mania

Jul 18, 2012 · 2 min read

Come in number 0187123, your time is up! Sheep, Dingli, Malta

Hashtags are the way to label, sort of categorize, Tweets. They consist of one word (no gaps, apostrophes or other special characters) starting with the hash sign (#). You can search and track hashtags to keep up on Tweets over certain topics. And they are widely overused.

At first the hashtags were just something the Twitter users did. It wasn't any sort of a built-in feature of Twitter and back then only third party sites were offering any decent ways to follow and track them. Actually hashtags originate from IRC where they were used to label channels. Soon after they got a quite popular way to label and find Tweets, Twitter implemented hashtags into their system and now they can be rather easily be searched and tracked within the service.

So why do I think they are so often overused? It's #not very #easy to #read a #sentence where #every other #word is a #hashtag. They work best used moderately in the end of a Tweet. The misuse and overuse has rendered such useful hashtags as #FollowFriday (and it's acronym version #FF) plain useless noise.

Keep in mind the fact that you are trying to communicate with other human beings. Write full sentences if possible. Don't drown your message into hashtags. Use them only when really necessary and appropriate. Use only those tags that actually have some meaning for other Twitter users (not just any random words you want to emphasize).

Photo by John Haslam under Creative Commons license.

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Suomeksi (In Finnish): 

Hashtagit, jotka koostuvat #-merkillä alkavasta yhdestä sanasta, ovat tapa nimiöidä eli eräällä tavalla kategorisoida viestejä Twitterissä. Niiden avulla voi seurata tiettyihin aiheisiin liittyviä viestejä. Ja osa porukasta käyttää niitä ihan liikaa. Ongelma on se, että on #todella hankalaa #lukea virkkeitä, joissa #suunnilleen joka #toinen sana on #hashtag. Muun muassa #FollowFriday (ja sen lyhempi versio #FF) on aika turha nykyään, sen ylikäytön ja väärinkäytön vuoksi. Pidä mielessä, että yrität kommunikoida ihmisten kanssa. Kirjoita kokonaisia virkkeitä, jos vain mahdollista. Älä hukuta viestiäsi hashtageihin. Käytä niitä vain kun käyttö on tosi tärkeää ja asianmukaista. Ja käytä vain niitä tageja, joilla on jokin merkitys myös muille Twitterin käyttäjille kuin vain sinulle.

Thank you for reading Twitter Tuesday: #hashtag #mania. I have closed the comments for now, but I welcome you to write your response to your own blog, or to voice them at Twitter or Facebook. In case you wrote your response on your blog, do let me know so that I can read it and possibly link to it from this post.

I will gloriously ignore (and, where possible, report) any responses which contain personal attacks, or seek to promote unrelated business or scams.

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