Let me start by saying that I love Twitter. I was hesitant to jump on the Twitter bandwagon, but I’m beyond glad that I did. Even though I resisted this idea of just “following” and be limited by what I wanted to say, Twitter is now my go-to social network.

I scan my Twitter feed for news stories, updates from my favorite bands, and my friends’ statuses. I’ve become quite a pro at sharing my thoughts in 140 characters or less. I also appreciate that Twitter doesn’t change their layout every thirty seconds (I’m looking at you, Facebook).

But even within this shiny, happy social network, Twitter has an ugly, black lining.

And that would be their hashtags.

Sad Raccoon
Congratulations. Your misused hashtags built this raccoon’s cage.

There are times when I find hashtags useful. During the plethora of natural disasters over the past two years, hashtags were great for catching real-time news and reactions. The hashtag was invaluable to my acquisition of my HP Touchpad. The hashtags’ transition to trending topics helps see what the world is talking about – even if the world is 99 out of 100 times talking about the Jonas Brothers or Demi Lovato. I don’t even mind when people put a short string of text behind a hashtag for comedic effect.

But then it gets bad.

First of all, spammers should be tarred and feathered for promoting your affiliated nonsense by jamming your links and/or bot accounts with trending topics and popular hashtags. I have a piece of information for you: people know what bots look like and they won’t be following you. If you are just an unhelpful presence on a quest for information, the only new followers you’ll be getting are more bots. Which is very helpful to your cause, I’m sure.

Second of all, people that tweet with four or more hashtags, what is your deal? What could you possibly have to say in 140 characters #that #is #relevant #to #six #searches? More often than not, your hashtags don’t even refer to what I’m searching for.

Wrong Tweet
Everything about this is wrong. 9 hashtags, really?

Third of all, those of you that use more than six words in your hilarious hashtags, I don’t know what you’re saying. It just looks like a jumble of letters that you were too lazy to separate.

Thankfully, Twitter has taken steps to weed out the spam by giving you the option to look at tweets categorized as “Top,” “All,” or “With links.” However, unless a column of spam is everything you want in life, stay away from “with links.” “Top” is generally a safe bet, but a decent number of spam and irrelevant tweets still slip through.

Those of you who follow me on Twitter could call me out for breaking my third rule in the past, but I have grown as a person, and so should you. Only you, my fellow Twitter users, can be proactive in helping Twitter become a better site for searching for pertinent information and not annoying our peers. Let’s focus on etiquette, and make the hashtags work for us and not against us.

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