If you were to ask for a list of reasons why Twitter hashtags are awesome, we would be here for hours. While the use of hashtags was not originally created by Twitter but rather by IRC clients long before the social media site came around, there is no denying that they perfected the format.
A fact we have to credit to Chris Messina, who was taken on by the site in the earlier days to discover a way to group conversations while maintaining the innovative live search and update algorithm in place.
One of the best uses of the hashtag is that of the tweetchat. It is such an easy way to get together via a site everyone seems to be on, to discuss any number of relevant topics to an industry. Many blogs, sites and groups have them now. Even serious communities such as in the medical and non-profit industries have gotten on board and found the benefit of such gatherings.
Along with this popularity has come a common scourge that follows all trend on the web: spammers. Yes, they are still around and perhaps more powerful than ever. But where they used to be seen in junk email and website guestbooks (remember those?), they are now a common sight on social media as well. Especially community or celebrity pages on sites like Facebook.
Because tweetchats are done via hashtags from any profile on Twitter, spammers have really been coming out of the woodwork to use them for link dropping.
Keeping The Spammers At Bay
I wish I could say that it was possible to prevent these irrelevant and annoying tweets. Sadly, the nature of Twitter is to be open, and so you always run the risk of being flooded. There are really only two ways to take care of the problem: monitoring and reporting.
To report a spammer, go to their profile and click on the icon showing the user silhouette next to the follow button. It will bring up a drop down menu that has a Report button at the bottom. Do this first. Then go to the menu again and hit Block. This is good for smaller spam problems, which can be taken care of on an individual basis.
Monitoring is a big part of this. You want to keep an eye on the conversation, and catch the spammers quickly before it derails the conversation. Trust me, nothing can take a tweetchat off topic more quickly that some moron link dropping from an obvious unrelated message. It can be difficult to get back on track when this happens, so removal is key.
When It Is A Flood, Not A Trickle
This does happen, especially for larger chats. All you can do is appeal to the Twitter support team when it does, by making a support ticket. You just give them the reason for the ticket, a subject and email message explaining the issue, your full name, your Twitter handle, your email and your phone number.
Usually, they are good about getting to issues quickly. Especially since adding to their customer service staff to handle their growing userbase.
If you are using a Twitter chat app (like TwChat), you can ban spammers inside it (sadly, it won’t prevent them from using your hashtag, but at least your chat participants won’t be bugged by them).
Don’t let annoying spammers put you off of conducting or taking part in a tweetchat. They may be difficult, but there are so many benefits from such an open and varied conversation that it makes them worth dealing with.