This post was published in March 2009 and may contain facts or opinion that are no longer current.

The Etiquette of Hashtagging

A few days ago on Twitter, I wrote this:

Hashtags are “a community-driven convention for adding additional context and metadata to your tweets.” To see what I mean about normal words being tagged, go to, pick a random word and put a hash sign in front of it.

Updates like this annoy me, because there’s absolutely no need to tag normal words in a tweet. For every person on Twitter who’s versed in all things #, there are many more who haven’t had the trend explained to them. This means there are people tweeting both “#episode” and “episode”, so we’ve got two terms that need to be searched for to find tweets relating to TV.

I’ve seen some nice Twitter guidelines in the last couple of weeks (some on corporate usage spring to mind), so I thought I’d have a go at some for hashtagging…

When should I tag?

There are a couple of things in this category:

  • When at an event, or a gathering of people - or trying to keep track of an event. Future of Web Apps and The Pirate Bay’s trial are two that have worked quite well in the past.
  • When Twitter’s search might not give proper results for a phrase. #safari4 was one from yesterday, as I suppose “Safari 4” could give some strange results.

And when should I not?


  • When the search function on Twitter will give you exactly the same result. I cannot see the point in #plurk or #youtube. I suppose #lost (for the TV show) does make some sense, as it’s trying to differentiate from people just using the word “lost”.

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From 09PM on Thursday March 05, 2009

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