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Twitter Hashtags and Groups April 4, 2008

Posted by Doriano "Paisano" Carta in Social Media, social networks.
Tags: , , ,

As your list of friends grows on Twitter, the amount of messages that scroll across your screen increases exponentially. Pretty soon it becomes impossible to catch messages directed your way in real-time. Ultimately you have to resort to backtracking or using a search tool like TweetScan (R.I.P Terraminds!). Increasingly members of the Twitter community are demanding better ways to filter and group all of this information. One of the new solutions has been Twitter Hashtags and channels.

What are Hashtags?
Hashtags are a way to group twitter messages together according to subject matter, similar to the concept of Twitter groups or tagging. You follow @hashtags and then use the pound (#) symbol to tag the tweet, for example: #SXSW.

Here are the best blog posts about the history of twitter hashtags and channels:
Bublicious’ Tools for Monitoring Conversations in Twitter
FactoryJoe’s Groups for Twitter; or A Proposal for Twitter Tag Channels
Factory Joe’s Making the most out of hashtags
Twitter Fan Wiki on Hashtags

Important Hashtag Links & Information

Hashtag CheatSheet

  • follow #tag: subscribe to all updates tagged with #tag
  • follow username#tag: subscribe to all updates tagged with #tag from a specific user
  • leave #tag: unsubscribe to a tag; you will still get updates with this tag from your friends
  • leave username#tag: unsubscribe to a specific from a specific user
  • remove #tag: completely remove all incoming posts tagged with #tag, even from your friends
  • #tag message: creates a status in the #tag channel
  • #tag !message: creates a status that is only visible to people subscribed to channel tag #tag

Twitter Tagging

I’ve always thought it would incredibly useful if we could tag our friends on twitter just as we tag blog posts or bookmarks so we could filter what we see at any given moment.

For example, I would tag some friends with Social Media, Utterz or Baseball. We could then filter all tweets according to these tags for any given moment.

It would also be useful if we could tag each of our tweets so that they could be indexed, searched and filtered just like our group tags. It would be invisible so it wouldn’t appear as ugly as Twitter hashtags with its # symbols spewed all over the place.

Twitter Groups

While hashtags and channels look and smell like twitter groups, they are not the same thing. They are like distant second cousins.

I still wish there was a way to create true groups for twitter that we can manage as well as public groups that we can join.

Obviously, it would be done thru the use of tagging.

In the mean time, here’s an early attempt at Groups for Twitter. I say close but no cigar at this point.

Excellent thread on twitter groups

TW_Groups Service

Follow @TW_Groups

Cool Twitter Search Engines

These excellent search engines for Twitter work very well with hashtags and channels in addition to basic searches.



Final Thoughts:

I believe there will many new ways to filter and search our Twitter stream of data. Some of these are already being accepted by twitter members. Look for group tagging to make its way down the pyke soon!


1. suzymiller - April 5, 2008

It would be sad that if by following lots of people the whole Twitter process became cumbersome – anything that keeps it quick and simple will keep us all doing it.

2. extraface - April 5, 2008

It’s probably a good idea to include the other side of the ongoing Hashtags discussion — that is, to many, their value in increasing findability doesn’t outweigh the negative effects they have on the Twitter stream.

3. Paisano - April 5, 2008

I had your link included originally but decided not to at this time.
Glad you chimed in. In hindsite maybe I should always provide contrary viewpoints. I just found far more positive attitudes towards hashtags than negative ones such as your’s. Still valid points, just seems you are in the minority at this point. We shall see what the public decides. I’m still learning about this stuff myself so who knows. Good post by the way. I guess you won’t be following me or any of my readers who start using hashtags. Oh well.


4. Shelley - April 5, 2008

Paisano, here via Chris Brogan’s shout out… thanks for sharing your thoughts and explorations with us. I have a Twitter FAQ that I put together mostly as a way to try to help out my Twitter newbie (or wanna be) friends, and I’ve added this helpful post to it (giving you credit, of course)! (http://butwait.pbwiki.com/Twitter-Newbies-FAQ) Will digg as well.

5. BarbaraKB - April 5, 2008

I agree with extraface. Also, same as keyword meta tags from old, tags are old school, thankfully, since are often so misused.

6. Paisano - April 5, 2008

Personally, I don’t mind seeing hashtags and quite honestly I usually don’t even recognize it because most of the time there is only one # sign used in a tweet. I don’t understand how someone could unfollow people because of the rare situations where they might have included more than one # sign (GASP! The horror!). You are willing to miss out on potentially rewarding experiences with others because of an ocassional cosmetic issue? Just because your twitter stream isn’t as aesthetically pleasing to you? (scratches head)

Obviously, the key to hashtag’s long-term success and acceptance as a standard is using it correctly. Once people learn how to use it in a uniform manner and not abuse it (as some obviously have by overloading single tweets with many hashtags, which explains the small backlash), then perhaps it can grow more supporters.

Time and the masses will tell whether or not hashtags is a success.
If the majority decides that they don’t find sufficent value in this tool then it will go the way of the Dodo bird. However, if people find the powerful benefits that it promises then it could very well be here to stay. We shall see. In the mean time, I merely wanted to explain how it works in simplistic terms so more people can evaluate it and judge it in a fair manner.

7. extraface - April 5, 2008

There’s more nuance to my argument than you’re giving it credit for. In my opinion, use of them at all, singly or multiple instances, says you care more about writing for databases and search engines than you do for your immediate hearers. It says you’re willing to sacrifice a little bit of the humanity of your tweets in order to be immortalized in more places. To me, that’s not worth it. And perhaps just because like-minded people tend to find each other, I’ve found that a large portion of the number of people who I follow on twitter feel that same way. If you read the comments on my blog entry about this, you’ll see there’s a fair number of critics. Or search the public timeline using a basic, hashtagless search for more discussion ;).

As far as their evolution, I am somewhat confident that either Twitter will develop some kind of better group functionality solution, or some new Twitter client will come along that handles this stuff more gracefully. In the meantime, I’d just as soon not have the #’s around. But I appreciate your perspective and acknowledge that people choose to use Twitter in lots of different ways. That’s why I like making my Tweets protected — I get to curate a set of people that generally use it like I do, and can try out new people or unfollow people as I find out more about them.

8. Paisano - April 5, 2008

Fair enough. Good points. I think I mentioned in my post my hope for something that was invisible in tweets that functioned in a similar manner. I was thinking of twitter tags like we tag our posts but they don’t appear within the post. It just allows us to sort/filter by those tags.

I’m glad you’ve joined this discussion though. It’s always best to get feedback and insight on a subject matter from all angles and perspectives. Good stuff.


9. My Essential Twitter Tools - April 5, 2008

[…] to add metadata around any tweet, this becomes more important as we rate and tag content. Here’s a helpful primer. I’m not making much use of this feature […]

10. beardedmonkey - April 5, 2008

For keeping track of tweets that are sent your way, you can always track your username (“track keyword”) so you’ll be sent any message that has your username (or whatever keyword you choose) in it.

11. tojosan - April 5, 2008

@extraface interesting point. However I don’t consider it dehumanizing of my tweets to use Hashtags. The reason being that it’s not about some search engine being able to find my tweets, it’s about other twitter users being able to follow and find stuff about their favorite tags. In my case, I was posting pictures and links related to Austin, Tx from my vacation there. Using the #Austin tag allowed folks that don’t follow me to find those links as well, and join the conversation around them. I picked up some followers from their use. More folks to build relationships with.

That said, not everyone cares about people anyway. Heck, what’d be easier is if Twitter clients allowed hiding of hashtags as an option as well as tagging tweets, not just favoriting them.

12. Twitter Hashtags and Groups with props to American Pai « The Broad Brush - April 5, 2008

[…] 5, 2008 Odd Ends , social networking Tags: hashtags, Paisano, social networking, Twitter Twitter Hashtags and Groups « American Pai “As your list of friends grows on Twitter, the amount of messages that scroll across your […]

13. Twitter « - April 5, 2008

[…] Blog “American Pai” fala um pouco mais sobre suas funções, e ajuda a mexer em suas […]

14. FaceySpacey Technologies - April 5, 2008

I think the Hash Tag aesthetic point is just a bunch of crap. I think the tags in Flickr metaphor does not apply (from extraface’s blog post). Yes the sharp symbol is a little bit ugly and reminds me of an otherwise perfectly good-looking kid with braces, but I think in this case it says cool things about the status updater him/herself. It says what he’s interested in and the like (won’t even bother getting into it). I do think it’s a little bit redundant since tools like tweetscan can do some of the same stuff. However, the point is that people actively decided to tag searched/tracked keywords, and so we can tap into memes as people acknowledge them.

15. What’s emerging? at Sims Learning Connections - April 5, 2008

[…] applications like Twitter, where not only use cases but syntax conventions (for @username and #hashtags) […]

16. rob zand » Blog Archive » links for 2008-04-05 - April 5, 2008

[…] Twitter Hashtags and Groups « American Pai (tags: twitter hashtags)   […]

17. Cool stuff i’ve been reading from April 1st to April 5th | blending the mix - April 6, 2008

[…] Twitter Hashtags and Groups « American Pai – All about hashtags on Twitter. […]

18. Miranda - April 6, 2008

I’m fairly new to Twitter, and I have been enjoying it immensely. I never thought I’d enjoy posting such mundane things about my life. But in only takes a second, and I’ve found that I enjoy following my Twitterfriends as well. First thing in the morning, I like to see what everyone’s been up to.

Anyway, this is a great article, and I am adding it to my stash of Twitter articles, as well as to those I look at in terms of social media.

19. Herramientas esenciales para Twitter | Sicrono - April 6, 2008

[…] 5. Contenido etiquetado. Es posible agregar metadatos en cada uno de los tuits con un “#“. Ideal para usuarios con muchos following/followers y filtrar contenidos por grupos. Más info aquí. […]

20. WebTools For Teachers 04/06/2008 « WebTools For Learners - April 6, 2008

[…] Twitter Hashtags and Groups « American Pai […]

21. Netsensei » Blog Archief » links for 2008-04-06 - April 6, 2008

[…] Twitter Hashtags and Groups « American Pai (tags: twitter howto tips) […]

22. Jill Foster - April 6, 2008

Thx Pai for exploring this issue. Being from Oklahoma, the only time I’ve experienced ‘hash’ directly was hash & potatoes from my Grandma’s kitchen… So this was useful context for Twitterspeak. I had noticed a few # signs yet frankly had not investigated. Thx too for being so interactive in this comment thread and responding with clarity (and humor).

23. links for 2008-04-07 : Armchairgeek - April 7, 2008

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26. @CoachDeb - April 18, 2008

Thanks for creating and sharing this! Now I need to add you to the Twitter Handbook as a Hashtag resource – may I have permission to reprint giving u credit for above info?

27. friarminor - April 22, 2008

Great post. Fortunately for us, its not ‘pai as you order’


28. cool trick « Lelapin’s Weblog - April 28, 2008

[…] Twitter Hashtags and Groups « American Pai […]

29. Twitt Pulse - May 11, 2008

Nice post. I am currently working on a solution to tag twitts and friends and a new twitter client. If somebody is interested in a beta-test or is willing to share what features you miss please mail me at twittpulse(a)gmail.com

30. 101 Twitter Resources | Traffikd - May 13, 2008

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32. Helen Bradley - September 8, 2008

I was at Photoshop World in Las Vegas recently, using the #psworld tag let me view everyone’s tweets about the conference and to post my own. At the time all I was really interested in reading were PSWORLD tagged tweets, so being able to view these using http://search.twitter.com was great. I got the stream I wanted at the time I wanted it. I read posts by users I don’t typically follow but who were at the same conference and so of interest to me in that small timeframe. I am willing to put up with #s scattered around tweets to have this functionality – I don’t think they are any worse than URLs in tweets. I think hashtags are vital to growing Twitter and making it even more usable and valuable.

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[…] Twitter Hashtags and Groups « American Pai e groups for twitter that we can manage as well as public groups that we can join. […]

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[…] taggare il tuo contenuto in maniera gli altri possono trovarli facilmente, questo tool è per te. Qui ci sono le istruzioni per come […]

38. Matt - March 16, 2009

Take a look at this new site that just popped up in my radar: tweetizen.com

Takes keywords and #tags and creates easy twitter groups… and surprisingly a very quick website as well.

39. Welcome to tiprojx. « tiprojx - March 16, 2009

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42. MICHAEL ANTHONY - June 22, 2009


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48. Daniel "Diggler" Proczko - March 16, 2011

Be sure to look into using hashtags for local smaller events. Hashtags can help you reach an audience that is passionate and cares. http://apt2labs.com/2011/03/16/hashtags-secret-twitter-tool/

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