(Round Two MAPLE XXI) You’re it!

#Going #completely #out #of #character #in #order #to #make #a #point.

It has been a while since I have posted a blog post as a response to a newspaper article.  However, I read the Chicago Tribune from May 20, and in Section 2, there is an occasional feature “So Social” that highlights things about social media.  The article was called “To hashtag or not to hashtag?”  Blogs and Facebook are the only social media that I use, and neither of them support hashtags.  Yet, many posts on Facebook are unnecessarily littered with them.  See my example at the top of this post, although this is something that I would never do (excluding this case, since I was simply trying to make a point 🙂 )

According to the article, hash-tagging was used in order to group messages to make them easier to find.  I do not know how Twitter works in terms of finding tweets.  (Someone help me out if I end up spitting nonsense as a result).  I believe that the search function works similarly to search engines, which maybe is a reason why tagging is used in blogs, in order to improve searchability.  This goes right back to the categories and tags post.

Some words are prominent enough that they don’t need hash-tags, according to the article.  Their example is that “Cubs” would pop up in searches just as “#Cubs” would.  Again, since I do not tweet, I would not know this.  Does the same thing happen for blogs when you use “strong keywords” as your tags?

In a blog post, however, since there are more words, tagging is more important so as to get the key words of the post into a separate list.  It is a lot harder to go through 140 words than 140 characters, and when I write in my blog, 500+ words is more of the norm!

One other thing that the article mentions: appending hashtags versus using strong keywords.  If hash-tagging is for indexing and searching, it makes more sense to use it mid-sentence rather than putting it as an “appendix” to the sentence.  It is not like a citation of literature in a formal paper.  It irks me when I see Facebook posts that say something and then have a string of hash-tags and/or at-signs afterward.

Hash-tagging, indeed, has been abused.  They have become so prominent in a negative way for me–when I see a prominent hash-tag in a document, I tend to take it less seriously.  For example, on Sunday I went to the Student Leadership Training at Northwestern, and on the cover of the program, near the bottom, was a large #LEADNU hash-tag.  I think that is quite tacky, and it may have been one thing that made me think the event was less professional than it could have been.  (It didn’t help that registration was incredibly disorganized.)

I am not calling for the abolition of hash-tags, though.  Just use them responsibly!  And please, as the article says, long hash-tags are amusing, but not helpful.

–BACK MATTER–

Today is the twenty-first day of M.A.P.L.E.  That makes three weeks.

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