Thursday, 29 November 2012

Where am I? The missing hashtag participation mystery

This has been bugging me for a while.

For those of you who use Twitter, it's not uncommon to participate in a Twitter #tag as a back-channel to in-person conferences. For example today I was on  whilst attending a two-day conference on open access. A few weeks ago I was participating on  whilst at the Spoton conference. And interestingly one of the sessions at Spoton was actually the value of using social media channels as part of a conference: video online here.

I find tweeting through a conference, plus following others tweeting on the hashtag, a great way to get a rounded view of the session I'm in. It also gives me a great summary of the event after I've returned home. Sometimes I've even storified the tweets from events to create a permanent summary of those tweets as a narrative.

So you can imagine my frustration, when I have been tweeting like a MACHINE through a conference, to discover that the tweets I've been tagging are not appearing in the tweet stream.

Why? Is it something I said? Where am I hiding?!

Having frustratingly been invisible on my tweet stream today, I thought it was time to get to the bottom of this. Guess what? I can't.

The Twitter help page gives some suggestions on why someone would not appear in search:

On the viewer side of things: if you're viewing only top results you will be missing some tweets. Similarly not all tweets show up on a mobile.

On the tweeter side: If you have protected tweets, again these will not show up. Apparently infrequent tweeters don't appear, and neither do people with incomplete profiles. New accounts may not show up either.

But I'm none of these things!!

So here's some more thoughts from across the blogosphere:


  • I'm a spammer? If twitter sees you tweeting the same links or tweeting the same content across multiple accounts they can mistake you for a spammer. Hmm, I do tweet on the company accounts, but is that really it?
  • I'm using too many third party services: Quora reckons if you use a number of third party tweet apps, you'll also get blocked. Great, I'm definitely in that category, but that sounds plain crazy.

I love using Twitter to participate in live dialogue at events, and even though I'm not appearing in results, people who follow me can still see what I'm tweeting. It does however prevent me from really engaging with the other conference participants, and inevitably also means I'm not contributing to the discussion. I'm not alone: other colleagues have experienced the same issue, and there's a lot of internet forum discussions on this topic. If it's a problem for you too, send Twitter a complaint here!