WordCamp Toronto’s Hash Tag Hilarity

Great story about WordCamp Toronto 2008. My cousin and I were sitting in our hotel room, and we couldn’t find any mention of what the WordCamp Toronto hash tag for the event was going to be, and so my cousin, Mark Wood, decided that it should be something like #wcto08. He put out a message on Twitter at 08:13 AM on October 4th, saying “WordCamp Toronto in an hour and a half. Hope to meet some cool people while I am there. #WCTO08”. I then, only a minute later, put out a quick Twitter saying, “WordCamp Toronto hash tag #WCTO08 😛 Deal with it. :)”.

After our messages, people started using the same tag for their Twitters, and other things, until we got to the event, and the organizers let us know that the hash tag should be #wct08. Despite this set back, I continued to push out as many tweets as possible under the one my cousin had created, and when Joseph Thornley took the stage, it only got more complicated as he announced that the hash tag for the event should be #wpto08. We then had three event tags on Twitter, for a single event. It was safe to say that many people were confused, and slightly annoyed.

Questions started circulating if people should just add two or all three tags to their Twitters so that they are easy to find. No one wanted their tweets to be ignored for the event, especially as it was a great bulletin board of communication.

Over time, thanks to my constant messaging on Twitter, and my work at converting others, the #wcto08 hash tag showed up on the trending list, as an event tag that was being used fairly often. The other tags not getting a mention at all, and so over the course of Saturday, messages went out with the #wcto08 tag at a rate of ten to every one message that included the “official” #wct08 tag.

The second day began with the same confusion, as it was stated at the start of the day that we should be using the #wct08 hash tag on Twitter, and ideally on all sites we post WordCamp Toronto content on. It then became apparent that, while we still had many supporters, the #wct08 hash tag might win the day. It quickly appeared on Twitter’s Trending list, and over the course of the day the two fought out for their spot.

Interestingly enough though, my cousin, a few others, and myself continued to use the tag that Mark had come up with, and we were the heavier Twitter users, so by the end of the second, and final day, I think we had created enough messages that the #wcto08 tag was pushed out at around a rate of three or four messages to every one that was tagged as #wct08.

I know this all seems silly, but the issue could have been fixed quite easily. Since the #wcto08 tag was trending higher, and faster, the organizers, instead of sticking to their guns, could have adapted and promoted the more popular tag, so that people didn’t feel the need to tag their messages with both hash tags for the event.

Next time though, I think the tag for the event will be chosen much earlier to avoid such confusion, but for histories sake, I want to say again that my cousin, Mark Wood, selected the Twitter hash tag that became more popular than the official one, at WordCamp Toronto 2008.

6 thoughts on “WordCamp Toronto’s Hash Tag Hilarity

  1. Eden Spodek

    Yep, it was pretty confusing and I had the pleasure of being there on Saturday and following from home on Sunday. I agree, a simple solution would be for organizers to determine and promote event tags (including hashtags) in advance. And… keep them short. For Podcamp Toronto 2009, we’re keeping our traditional podcamptoronto and adding pcto09 for simplicity and twitter hashtags of course.

  2. Malcolm Bastien

    Nowadays it looks like conferences start even before the registration! I think the easiest thing to do, in order to not argue about which tag is a better representation of the event, is to say that things like tags for particular events should be prepared before hand. That way everyone can concentrate on sending out messages, or taking photos without confusion.

    Since everybody who attends an event starts to add each other to twitter as well, maybe that’s also something that can happen before an event starts (tags might help that happen also).

  3. Mathieu Yuill

    Dude! We weren’t sticking to our guns – Melissa and I didn’t get many opportunities to jump on twitter over the weekend so when someone asked me what the hash was I told them what I had used a few times.

    However, you’re 100% right, we should have posted a hash tag much earlier in the process. One of many good lessons for next time!

    I was showing my son the video (he’s three) of your presentation and he started singing “hands in my pocket”! Awesome! He of course didn’t realize how awesome it was because, well, he’s three. But your session was great!

  4. David Peralty Post author

    It’s all good man. It all worked out and was a fun time. Glad your son enjoyed the video. 🙂 My wife also loves singing “hands in my pocket”.

    And I totally understand about not having time. You guys did a great job organizing the event!

  5. Joseph Thornley

    You are absolutely right about my part in the confusion – to my embarrassment. Especially given that I had picked up and retweeted your original tweet calling the hashtag WCTO08.

    I decided to drop it into a slide in my presentation just before I went onstage. And then my mind did a stutter. Instead of typing WCTO08, I typed WPTO08. And I confused everyone.

    I’m very embarrassed about this. And I only wish that someone would have corrected the mistake while I had the slide onscreen.

    But, then we’re Canadian and way too polite to correct the speaker. 😉

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