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
http://hashtags.org is the official website
Hashtags is an opt-in service. You must follow @hashtags for the service to index your tweets.
Here is the Hashtag index that lists ALL TAGS
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
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.
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.
Cool Twitter Search Engines
These excellent search engines for Twitter work very well with hashtags and channels in addition to basic searches.
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!