The #HASHCORE and Hashtag startup story

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

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.

#Hashcore

#HASHCORE, a UK-based company newly founded by Sebastian Collorafi and Tim Bobker, was set up to present a wider range of online publishers with a method of adding hashtags to their web content. The company provides its customers with a JavaScript tag to install on their website; once the code has been installed, this allows the user to link to existing hashtags in a few simple steps.  At the editing stage of creating the web page, the publisher identifies the words or phrases which already exist as hashtags, perhaps by trying them on Twitter, and removes any spaces before inserting the hash symbol before the start of the word. When the page is published, each hashtag links to the database of comments which have also been published with the same hashtag, allowing the reader to investigate specific topics further and, effectively, providing real-time updates.

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.

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