Who owns a hashtag

twitter gaolWhat are the status of hashtags? Are they things that can be owned by individuals or groups of individuals? Once I have laid claim to one, can I request, or even demand, that other users follow whichever rules I have decided apply? Can a group  (explicitly or implicitly) come up with a set of rules or conventions that apply to tweets containing a particular hashtag? I was prompted to think about these questions during a Twitter conversation that begun after a discussion about whether remixing a stranger’s words, or images, was something we’d do. A tweet by Wendy left me thinking of tweets to a hashtag as being a signal that a person might be open to a conversation. Here’s the conversation a few of us had about that this morning.

Image stolen from @dogtrax

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6 Responses to Who owns a hashtag

  1. Terry Elliott says:

    Do u mind if I walk the marginal zones of your post?

  2. One of the long-running Twitter hashtags (#edchat) has a convention related to the scheduled conversations. During the conversation, which has a specific topic, the facilitators request that using the hashtag be limited to those participating in the topic/conversation.

    It is clear, I think, that this could be interpreted as a rule, but it seems more useful to consider that it is a procedure which actually makes the hashtag more useful. While the topical conversations are in session (an hour at a time), the restricted use of the hashtag helps keep the flow sensible.

    Implementing the procedure is the issue. My sense has been that the facilitators of #edchat are tolerant of mistakes, just making the reminder as the topic sessions are about to begin. I think the facilitators do NOT begin to claim ownership.

    • NomadWarMachine says:

      I think that makes sense, and is a sensible suggestion. I think requests within a community are fine, and reasonable – demands of ownership of a hashtag just seem … silly?

  3. tutormentor1 says:

    Thanks for creating a summary of this “who owns the hashtag” chat. Prior to the Internet, and continuing in 2017, important discussions that affect the well-being of many were being held behind closed doors, with only a few of the rich, powerful and well connected, invited into the conversation. The Internet began to make it possible for more people from more places to connect, but there still were many (and still are) closed doors.

    To me the announcement of an event using a #hashtag is an open invitation for anyone to chime in and offer ideas or expand the network of people they interact with. I suspect there are unwritten rules for participating in such events, but I’d hate to see people begin to block and ban people from participating, just because they posted perhaps unwelcome ideas.

    On the other hand, I’ve been in #hashtag chats where people with widely different agendas, began to post their own messages using the event #hashtag. The group moderator should have a way to limit such access, but with a great deal of caution.

    It seems that every step forward brings a few that take us backwards.

    • NomadWarMachine says:

      You’re very welcome, Daniel.

      I think you are right about there being unwritten assumptions and even rules for participation, and that it is tricky to steer a line between not allowing new voices and ideas, and losing any focus.

      As you say, not easy to sort out, but conversations like this help, I hope.

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