Twitter, Hashtags, Baseball and a Dose of Spam

For about a year, I’ve been using twitter and hashtags to tweet with fellow Red Sox fans about our favorite topic, the Red Sox.  Over that time, I’ve seen a big change how it works.

First, a definition from Twitter Wiki:

Hashtags are a community-driven convention for adding additional context and metadata to your tweets. They’re like tags on Flickr, only added inline to your post. You create a hashtag simply by prefixing a word with a hash symbol: #hashtag.

When I started about a year ago, there were a handful of folks that were tweeting with the #redsox hashtag during the games.  DougH, AdamCohen, AaronStrout and Fairminder would pretty much be the list.  Most of them aren’t really seen tweeting about the games anymore, and it doesn’t surprise me.

Early adopters really hate a crowd, deep down, and the numbers of folks that use the hashtag now have soared.  Even Jerry Remy (and his assistant John) are using the hashtag to tweet during games.  However, with the popularity, there are problems:

1. Spamming –  I’m now seeing people using the hashtag to advertise stuff that has nothing to do with the Red Sox.  Last night DaveAndelmann tweeted an ad for his Phantom Gourmet tv show which would air after the game.  Boo hiss, Dave!  If everyone does this, it becomes unuseable.   The problem is that everyone seems to think that Twitter is their own private advertising medium.  Really, c’mon, admit it…

2. ReTweetBots – I really hate seeing accounts (not really people) like Redsoxgame or Yankeesgame or RedSoxTweets mindlessly retweeting scores and articles with the #redsox tag.  The problem is, if the original was already tagged, we’ve seen it before. With these retweetbots, we’re destined to see each article about 6 times.  Stupid…

3. Red Sox Tweets Turn Off My Other Followers – Yup, not everyone wants to hear it.  Since I’ve tagged my tweets, you can filter them in Tweetdeck, (go to the bottom of your friends column and find the filter icon – then select text – #redsox and they’ll be gone.  But most people won’t take the time to do this.

Either we find fixes for these problems, or the noble effort that was live game tweeting will crash and burn.  I predict unregulated this will go the way of Usenet possibly by the All Star break but certainly by September.

I suspect in the long term, the real solution is that live game microblogging needs to be done under the auspices of a website where someone can actually police things help maintain a quality experience.  Perhaps if Jerry Remy were to put a Laconica install on his site, that’d be the place.  Or perhaps the crew at SurvivingGrady.com could upgrade from their current comments system…

8 thoughts on “Twitter, Hashtags, Baseball and a Dose of Spam

  1. Interesting observations, Mark. Last fall ACLS was when the #redsox tag sort of took off for me, and next think I knew I was talking to John Battelle about the implications of hash tag search for advertising.

    Last night I was more engaged by Red and Denton’s liveblogging app at Surviving Grady. No 140 character limit (most comments from them and the peanut gallery are much shorter), my Twitter followers weren’t witness, I could be anonymous as “CapeClam” and the profane humor was over the top.

    Much better Red Sox microblogging experience for me. They used an app called “CoverItLive”

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  3. Yeah, I like the Cover It live thing when they do it, but they don’t do it all the time, and the problem is that it doesn’t work on the Iphone, so I have to use a computer…and I spend enough time in front of one of them anyways…

  4. It reminds me of those little things people put on their car antennas so they can easily find their car in a parking lot. If everyone uses them, it completely defeats the purpose. In this case though, it’s as if you had a GPS locator for your car, but spammers jammed the frequency and made you come to their lunch truck instead of your car.

  5. Sorry if this is a dumb question. I’m new to Twitter and trying still figuring things out. Why don’t you just move your live game microblogging to a new hashtag? Like #redsoxlive ? All your loyal followers could start using that one and hopefully it would take the advertisers and robots some time to catch on…?

  6. Although I still use a hashtag, I’ve gotten to the point where my twitter stream is full of people I look forward to game tweeting with, so the hashtag is kind of a moot point. I now use it to allow my friends that aren’t into the game to filter out the tweets, more than to get into the full game stream. Funny timing, with the Super Bowl the other day, I realized the hashtag “#patriots” was totally unusable.

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