There can’t be many people who have yet to encounter a hashtag. They have had an increasing presence on many internet sites over the last few years and are now commonly found on forums, the comments sections of news and media-sharing websites, such as YouTube and, most famously, on Twitter. The concept has even begun to creep into our spoken language, with some people now choosing to say the word ‘hashtag’ to emphasise a particular point, generally for comic effect. With their recent introduction on Facebook, the most popular social networking site in the world, it seems that hashtags are more prevalent than ever.
Hashtags are words or phrases, written without spaces after the hash (#) symbol, which link to a topic so that users can quickly view the latest comments relating to it. Its use on Twitter, which began in 2007, brought it out of specialist use, as a form of metadata tag, into the public domain, leading to its current level of popularity. As well as being a source of information for anybody with an interest in a particular subject, the hashtag is extensively used as a marketing tool to draw attention to a product or business. Films and television programmes all have their own hashtags now; these allow certain programmes, usually news or current affairs, to have an interactive element. The quantifiable nature of the hashtag allows topics to be rated according to popularity.
While this service would be useful to any publisher who wishes to foster the topical aspect of an article, it is such an easy innovation to apply that it is likely to be used quite extensively by casual publishers, such as bloggers. The application is currently in beta release so those users who become involved in piloting Hashcore’s solution can help the advancement of the product by providing feedback.