Dwight Watt - Newspaper Article #210 7/24/2013

Question: What are hash tags?


A hash tag is a way of grouping messages together and people being able to find messages on a subject. Most often it is used in Twitter but can also be used in Facebook, Flickr and other social sites. Hash tags look like #wattarticle.

Hash tags are relatively new having appeared originally about 2007. The name comes from the symbol that starts the tag which is #. In the USA and Canada we know that as the number or pound symbol but in the rest of eth world most know it as a hash symbol.

Last week when I attended a conference on Cisco Networking Academies the conference kept up with and posted all the tweets with #acadconf and so the tweets I sent out about the conference were available for others at the conference and anyone else who looks for the #acadconf hash tag as long as I included the hash tag in it. I looked up at screen posting the tweets at one point and saw my tweet. In this case it was really helpful to some as besides those of us attending in San Jose most of the conference was available virtually and other instructors all over world could get feel from tweets of what those of us physically attending were experiencing.

Hash tags work as a way to group messages together. The hash tag is chosen by someone and then people join in following. There is not a registration on hash tags so they live forever but can be used by various groups at different times. There is not a group that controls them. So I may decide to use #birthdayparty for tweets about a birthday party but others can do so also at same time and all our tweets are grouped together.

There is etiquette to using hash tags. You should only use one or two hash tags normally in a message or people will get upset on the overuse. However this is etiquette and not rules or laws so that does not stop people from over using. Just like it is poor etiquette to use alls in emails as considered shouting, but you still see it done.

Using the hash tag does make your tweets and other messages much more public and not to just your friends or followers, do be careful in using them that what you are saying that you want a wider audience. If you really want what you are doing as a tweet or posting in Facebook to stay private use email, text, or Facebook messages, but remember anything put on the Internet can become public for everyone.