What is a Hashtag?

What a hashtag really allows is the grouping of content based on subject. The hashtag is clickable and will take you to all other instances of the same hashtag being used. It is a way of getting past the problems of a live algorithm and open format.

The Origins Of The Hashtag

Many people mistakenly believe that it was Twitter that came up with the idea of the hashtag. They would be wrong: it was actually used on IRC networks years before anyone had ever heard of a tweet. A # symbol followed by a channel name or topic was a quick way to navigate the massive, user-generated network of the IRC chat client.

In 2007, Twitter was testing out their new live update algorithm and had run into a problem. Users couldn’t connect with one another on a site-wide scale, and needed a means of doing so. It was left to developer Chris Messina to figure it out, and he remembered the hashtags of IRC. He suggested the use of # to help group topics together and make it easy to search based on those tags.

At the time, this was just referred to as ‘grouping’.

While Twitter might not have created the hashtag, it did revolutionize them. The unique format of the platform and the ability to see updated in real time makes the efficiency of the hashtag in a trending context invaluable. Other sites took note and began to use the same format, making it a regular sight all over the web.

Hashtags For Social Groups

Hashtags are great for connecting to others similar to yourself. Whether it is an interest, a cause or even an opinion, it is easy to find others and take part in a discussion on any site that allows hashtags. Do this by either posting an update with that tag, or by doing a search and seeing what others are saying.

Most sites will have an auto-suggest tool that takes what you are typing and guesses what you might be trying to say. This is a super simple way of seeing what is being used regularly.

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