How to use the hashtag

Dear readers and followers,

We all know that the beauty of Internet is that everyone can use it. Also, the horrible side of Internet is that everyone can use it, and use it badly. Of course, I am one of those people who has to research almost everything before following a trend or use something new. Now, what may be annoying is that I have to explain things, but hey, this is why you write a blog in the first place, am I right?

Today, I want to briefly explain something that is so incredibly easy that most of us use it in the wrong way: the hashtag. That little symbol, actually just a hash, once only used to recall the previous phone number and, maybe, to top-up over the phone, seems now one more of the emoticons on our statuses. It is not! You use the hash to tag, hence the name hashtag, says Captain Obvious. That said, are there rules about its use? Not exactly, more like suggested practices, and here is Knotty to sum them up for you.

First of all, hashtags are used to make your content searchable in a world in which, according to some statistics, 58 million tweets are posted per day (source.) So, if you use an hashtag that is one of the trend topics, anyone interested in that subject can easily find it, that is if your contents are public. What should we do then? We can look up if there is already a hashtag in use for our topic, and use it, or we can create a new one. There is not official list of hashtags, and anyone can create one.

How to hashtag (mainly, what to avoid)?

  • DO NOT use spaces between the words you want to include in one hashtag, or only the first word will be tagged. “#SillyMe” is an hashtag, “#Silly me” only tags the word silly.

  • On a similar note, DO include a space between hashtags, or only the first one will be a real tag, and the whole caption will be a blur bunch of words. So, imagining a caption for a morning selfie, YES to “#Selfie #NoFilter #Sleepy”, NO to “#Selfie#NoFilter#Sleepy”.

  • Also related, DO NOT put any words or punctuation right before the hashtag, it will automatically invalidate the tag, and DO NOT put any punctuation in the middle either, or the hashtag will end where the sign is. So, YES to “I am happy! #Smiling”, NO to “I am happy!#Smiling”; YES to “#ThankGodItsFriday”, NO to “#ThankGodIt’sFriday.

  • DO NOT put only numbers in the hashtag, or it will also generate an error. So, “#65” will only end up meaning “number 65” in English, but it will not include your tweet on any search. You will need to also add a word, e.g. “#Day65”, to make it useful.

  • DO NOT overdo it by including too many words, three is normally the maximum, but there are very famous trend topics with more, normally the funny ones, such as #NoRestForTheWicked.

  • DO NOT spam, that is, do not hashtag every single word in your tweet: it makes posts hard to read, and it dilutes the search. Again, three is the suggested maximum number of hashtags in a post (guilty, I normally use more!) So, imagining a caption for a picture of a dog in a park, YES to “Walking my dog, always a surprise #Dog #DogLover #Squirrels”, NO to “#Walking #my #dog #always #a #surprise #him #chasing #a #squirrel”.

  • DO NOT insert trend topic hashtags to gain visibility if your tweet is not about the subject, e.g., do not add #LoveTheDarts to your tweets if they are not about Anderson and his victory this week.

Some suggestions:

  • Be aware of the meaning of the hashtags you use. As with any other example of communication, there are registers in tweets. You have funny and serious hashtags, and you normally don’t want to mix them, because you can end up with awkward or offensive posts, and you give an image of insensitivity or, if you use your profile for business purposes, that can suggest you are not professional.

  • Differentiate the words in the hashtag by capitalising the first letter of each word. This is not a rule, and hashtags are not case sensitive, so hashtags such as #NoRestForTheWicked and #norestforthewicked will both be included in the result of the search for that trend topic. Nonetheless, capitalising the first letter of each word will make the hashtag easier to read , and can avoid embarrassing misinterpretations, such as the famous #susanalbumparty, later changed into #SusanBoyleAlbumParty. And we all know this example:

download I have been talking about Twitter, but hashtags also are included on Facebook, Instagram, and Google+, and if you share your posts between your profiles, they are automatically transferred in all of them, that is, all except from Google+, which is still not that keen to share contents with other social media. Now, as I said, there are no real rules, so do what you please, but I tried to warn you!

Until next, and… keep being naughty, Knotty surely will!!!

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Mais sobre as dificuldades do chat.

Já fá uns anos que comecei estudar português, mas não tive a coragem de escrever um pequeno texto para o meu blogue até agora. O que me fez mudar a minha opinião? Umas velhas fotos do viagem a Portugal que encontrei de novo ontem quando pesquisava nas nuvens (acho que o cloud chama-se assim). Devido às saudades que essas fotos causaram, escrevi a página de Cowbird sobre Coimbra, e agora estou escrevendo o primeiro texto em português para Une belle infidèle!

Ainda tenho muito que aprender, e estou convencida de que esta página é cheio de erros; por isso, peço aos leitores que falam português ser pacientes! Este texto é um experimento, mas também uma continuação da análise sobre os problemas das conversações com mensagens instantâneos. Hoje, na tarde, falei com um bom amigo no chat. Si eu escrevo um mensagem, tento escrever em português para praticar, mas no chat falamos italiano porque ele fala muito bem. Hoje, misturamos italiano, português e inglês, porque é mais divertido e porque isso é o bom de falar muitas línguas.

Nos últimos três dias falei com varias pessoas no chat, e já o tenho claro: o problema não é só do chat! Falei com amigos e amigas, e com meios namorados (chamo-lhos assim porque não tenho uma palavra melhor para explicar o que são), e só tive problema com um deles. Isto deu-me algum pensamento: pode ser que o problema seja a língua, mas duvido poder culpar só o chat; acho que o problema é particularmente a pessoa que está no chat.

Em alguns chats não há muitas carinhas, e as correções automáticas às vezes cambiam os mensagens e te fazem dizer o que não queres, mas mesmo que recebi algo estranho, não pelejei com ninguém mais que com um deles. De verdade queremos seguir dizendo que o problema é a falta de feedback nas intenções de quem escreve? Agora já vou aceitando que não sabemos comunicar o que não queremos entender-nos, porque fiquei mais feliz depois de falar com os demais.

O resultado dista análise é que a comunicação não só depende da língua, do meio usado e das dificuldades técnicas, mais também da vontade dos participantes do que possa haver um intercâmbio; também, um resultado é que tenho que escolher melhor algumas das pessoas com as que falo. Além disso, mesmo que não tem relação com os chats, acredito que preciso dum pastel de natas e dum bolo de bolacha para que o meu dia de português fique completo; mas, para isso, tenho de voltar a Portugal, pelo menos para o bolo de bolacha!

Por favor, comentai e corrigi, gostaria muito disso e ficaria grata!

Has the chat got your tongue?

This post is the result of me threatening Facebook for being mean showing images about misunderstanding caused by texting, and for doing it exactly when I am chatting with my Boyfriend to try and solve our fight generated on chat because of plenty of misunderstandings:

And isn’t it ironic…don’t you think

A little too ironic…and, yeah, I really do think… (A. Morissette – Ironic)

So, first things first, I wrote “Boyfriend” just here, just now, and just capitalised, to exorcise the bad feelings this word brings to mind, and also to try and put a stop to the really unfortunate series of events that pronouncing it tends to trigger! In addition, I am pretty sure I will go through all my silly, but needed, cathartic processes of deleting the word, the sentence, and the post and related links over and over, and I therefore hope plenty of people will read it before I do so; that way, I will feel stupider than I normally do, and there won’t be any way to really pretend it didn’t exist!

So, back to the main subject of this post, the image shared by Grammarly, one of the wittiest pages I am currently following, says:

Texting is a brilliant way to miscommunicate what you feel and to misinterpret what other people mean.

In a previous post, also written in a moment of frustration with modern communication means, I already tackled this issue. Texting is a huge part of my life, not only because it is how I keep in touch with plenty of friends back home and all around the world, but also because of my current love situation. Despite all the promises that I made to myself when I was a kid who thought could control feelings, my lover lives across the ocean, and chat is one of the few ways through which I can spend time with him.

Of course, the point here is not to bite the hand that is feeding me, because I know that without text and video chat we wouldn’t be where we are now, but that doesn’t mean that they have great outcomes for our relationship. Text chat is cold, with very little ways to express the full range of emotions that a face and a voice could include in a conversation. Some could argue that emoticons have now facilitated that aspect, but I am not convinced. I clearly remember using an emoticon that I considered funny but that was completely misinterpreted and ended up offending the other person; in the same way, and this just happened, a smiley was expressing relief and agreement, but I was so frustrated and fed up at that point that I preferred to ignore it.

Even voice and video, which are definitely better ways to interact than simple text, lack some of the basics of in-person communication. For example, the connection is often a problem, making hard to understand the words and cutting the conversation all of a sudden. When two people are in the same room, there still could be problems hearing each other for different reasons, but it is highly rare to see the other person vanish as it often happens thanks to my best friends Hangouts and Skype. I agree, I may think that because I haven’t dated Sam Oliver yet, but I am up to do that and blog again after! Until then, let’s stick to my current experience: video allows us to see each other facial expressions and hear the tone of a sentence all at once, but still cuts out so many aspects that are implicit when two people are in the same room: everything else around that is not captured by the screen, such as the surrounding space, smells, colours, and so on. I still remember the first time I saw in front of me my lover’s eyes after months on chat; then, I realised that I had completely forgotten their colour, because even the best webcam cannot capture all the nuances or the depth of a gaze.

On what is missing in texting, I can quote an authority, meaning myself, today on chat (I know, ironic, again!):

Text doesn’t work, there is no feedback on what I am getting word by word

And this brings me to something that I was almost forgetting: not considering my character, the distance, and the technical difficulties as being enough, I wisely found myself in a relationship that includes all that plus the English language as the only one in our interactions: clever girl! But, and I am talking to you, Pretty… People, you know what I tell you?

We can’t rewind,

We’re locked in time

But you’re still mine

Do you remember? (J. Johnson – Do you remember)