Grand Larseny



What's a sweatshop without a little fun?

Twitter Hash Tags

Twitter is mainstream now, which is awesome. As more people use it, more ideas of how to use it float around. One idea that has come to prominence is tagging all your tweets by using a specific character for future reference. Just like you might tag a photo “Hawaii” or “Flower” or “Uncle T,” the idea is to tag your tweets so that you and others can find them later.

This is much better than just trying to do a search for the word “Hawaii” or “Flower,” because you can tailor your search results to find only the tweets you want to as you are creating the tweets. So, you think about what you might want to search for in the future, and you tag the tweet as such. It’s a pretty good system.

My problem is reading the tags. See, the hack that they use is to put the hash symbol right before the tag, making the “Hawaii” tag look like “#Hawaii.” This has become annoying. It’s not so bad when tags are at the end of tweets, where you can mostly ignore them, but there are many times where tags are not at the end of sentences. There are also cases where tweets use multiple tags for different reasons, making them harder to ignore.

Hash tags add more noise to an already quiet signal. When you only have 140 characters to use, adding 10-20 characters of noise is too much for me.

What I propose, however, is not to do away with hash tags. As I’ve said, they are very useful, and it’s not really possible to reproduce their functionality without doing something stupid, like completely overhauling Twitter’s back-end system. I believe that a simple UI trick can work.

I believe that tags should appear without the hash in front of them as a link to the search results for that tag. I’ve included a few mock ups of a couple scenarios in the scientifically proven best Twitter iPhone app, Tweetie.

Here’s a screenshot of the way hash tags are currently formatted, that is to say unformatted.

img_0001

You can see in the tweet by Clint the hash tag for #short_url. Check it out as I would like it.

hash-mid-tweet

While this may still be too jarring for some, I believe it flows better in the reading process than having to interperet random hash characters. If time allowed, I would like to play with subduing the colors, or perhaps doing away with the button altogether and just changing the text color for the tag itself to indicate a link. In any case, I firmly believe that the hash character itself must dissappear if the tweet is to be readable.

Just for fun, here’s an example of a tweet with multiple tags at the end, to see how it might look.

hashtags-redux1

Hopefully this may stir your creative energies, too. Goodnight.

2 Comments

  1. andy says:

    I like it. I also like that this can be implemented on a client-by-client basis. You might try contacting the developers of your favorite Twitter client (Twitterrific, Tweetie, whatever) and suggesting the idea.

  2. Daniel says:

    Andy,

    Thanks for your feedback! I’ve tried replying to Atebit’s (the developers of Tweetie) twitter account, but I’m not sure if they’ve seen it. In any case, I really do hope someone can implement this bit of functionality.

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