Category Archives: Internet and Web Design

Twitter, Hashtags, and You: The Shortfalls of ‘Hashtag Activism’


This is something I’ve talked about, regarding the #GamerGate and #StopGamerGate2014 hashtags on twitter. The problem that I’ve seen with “hashtag activism” is because anyone- I mean anyone– can co-opt a hashtag. The screenshot of the ISIL/ISIS tweet above, for example, proves this, as it is utilizing the #GetWellSoonAshton hashtag to make it more visible.

When you go onto twitter, you don’t have anything that forces you to use one thing or another, and you certainly can’t ‘authenticate’ the use of a hashtag. This makes it an open use ‘term.’ Hashtags are really just keywords designed to be easily searchable on twitter in the first place, as they are using the # sign to identify them as such. You can see them in web design in metadata, and in fact- the use of them on twitter was inspired by the channel titles from IRC, suggested by Chris Messina in 2007.

If you look at the account that used the #GetWellSoonAshton hashtag, you can also see that they’ve attempted to co-opt the #StopGamerGate2014 tag, as well, as pictured below:

This is the problem with laying blame on a single hashtag, for stuff. I will not argue that there’s poison in the #GamerGate hashtag, but considering the fact that I’ve seen harassment and doxxing happening from the #StopGamerGate2014 hashtag shows that the pot should be calling the kettle black. Both have their points, but both have their detractors as well. However, something that surprises me with people proclaiming 100% faults on both sides has told me that these people don’t understand how twitter, and consequently, hashtags work as a whole. With that, I want to point back to the statement that I made about the “co-opting” part of this.

I had commented to someone on a messenger early on in the situation with #GamerGate that I would not be surprised if people from outside of it were choosing to fan the flames by trolling both sides. I can point to the #CutForBieber hashtag and the debacle surrounding that to help add to my case, even. This was a twitter prank started by members of an infamous trolling group known as GNAA, and soon the prank eventually took off on its own. Or what about #EndFathersDay that was started by /pol/? There’s a very frightening, and dangerous, thing about both of these hashtags, though: they took off on their own.

Girls who are fans of Justin Bieber ended up picking up on the #CutForBieber hashtag, and feminists jumped onto the #EndFathersDay hashtag- because the original, trolling, posts were completely believable and people took them as a real trend- and as such, the did trend with the help of ‘normal people’ involved.

As a result, I had some suspicions that the flames were being fanned by GNAA or some other group. Now, am I right? I have no clue, but I did see something recently that made me sit back and think for a moment:

The screenshot above comes from the FYAD forum of A user there (known as ‘Goons’ on the site) is proclaiming that ‘Goon-Started Drama’ has made the front page of the New York Times. What was it that made the New York Times? An article on the threats sent to Anita Sarkeesian.

As a result, we have Goons making trolling claim from this. Then there’s also been the fact that a journalist in Brazil got outed as being a stalker for Anita. Are both of them part of the #GamerGate movement? Personally, I doubt it. But it’s certainly easy for them to pick up a hashtag.

I can’t say that it really was the Goons that were behind the threats and it could still be someone from #GamerGate, or it could be a conspiracy theory of someone from #StopGamerGate2014 trying to perpetuate the issues. Without proof of any of these situations, we can only offer speculation- just because they used the hashtag still isn’t proof enough, as it’s just as easy as loading and typing it in yourself.

Worst case scenario of hashtag co-opting: say a hashtag calling for support of Taylor Swift started on twitter. Let’s just use #ISupportTaylorSwift as the hashtag in this hypothetical situation. This makes your tweets easily searchable by the other users of said hashtag to find and gain notoriety. Users of the hashtag will become more and more known amongst the other users, and retweets will happen left and right. I can see it being fully possible for a stalker of Taylor Swift to see the hashtag and utilize it as a method of getting more ‘infamous’ in the circle of fans that may be closer to her than others. An outlier of the fandom utilizing a hashtag that they may, or may not, fully honestly support, as a means to an end.

This is why you find many hashtags with traffic from southeast Asia, too: bots will co-opt them to gain more visibility.

In the end, this is one of the several reasons why twitter- while an amazing social media platform, in my opinion- can be a problem regarding the need for communication for a greater cause. 140 character limits + completely open medium. The only form of privacy you have on twitter is simply the ‘yes’ or ‘no’ option of locking your account. Everything you tweet is public. Everything. And it can be archived. You don’t want the world to know about something? Please for the love of God, don’t tweet it. The internet most certainly does not forget, even if you delete it. It would do many people some good to not forget this detail.

Twitter is also very noisy. Very, very very noisy. A single tweet is like a drop in an ocean- and only has as much impact as its influence- the followers of the account, how public the tweet is, and its potential for retweets.

Ellen’s famous selfie at the Academy Awards is a great example of this concept. You can see that it received over 3 million retweets. However, when you think about it, that is a mere fraction of the number of people who actually watched the Academy Awards, which came in to 43 million viewers. A majority of the retweets are likely to have been people who saw it happen during the Oscars and joined in to retweet it. Ellen’s selfie did, afterall, crash twitter- and I remember that a million of those retweets were before the end of the awards show itself.

Here are some notes based on the quick stats of twitter to help drive home the amount of activity happening on twitter:
* Twitter has 271 million active users – this is over 1/4th of the world’s population.
* 500 million tweets are sent per day: this comes out to about 6,000 per second, and 350,000 per minute. If these numbers hold steady, it will total out to 200 billion tweets in a year. That is enough for every single person in the world to tweet 27 times in a year. That’s a lot.

But despite all these shortcomings, don’t let this discount the good that can come from a microblogging platform like twitter. Twitter is also the opportunity people have to be in contact with stars and corporations. It is incredibly useful in customer service applications, and some of the best marketing stunts ever done, I think, have happened on twitter, such as Oreo’s ‘blackout’ tweet during the Super Bowl in 2013.

So while this post talks about a lot of the issues of trying to carry the torch of a cause on twitter, don’t let it discourage you. If you wish to use twitter for a cause, then let it be your jumping point. It is the best place to drive up interest and lead people to a place to carry on a much needed conversation. Just don’t let twitter be the only place for your conversation- try to provide outlets that break away from the high speed, busy, and quickly worded shouts that can drown out one’s words and cause.

For that reason of being able to communicate with people you would have never met anywhere else, twitter is still my favorite social media platform. However, we all know that even the things we love best still have many, many flaws. It’s just that you need to know how to step around the flaws to make the best of what you love.

A History Over Four and a Half Years is Definitely not Endless- But Sometimes It Feels That Way!


Sometimes, when I load up the dashboard for Endless History, I don’t always really think about what I’m doing other than ‘this post must be written.’ Except somehow that changed this morning when I posted about this week’s Weekly Special from Falcom. Of course, my focus was entirely on writing the post- this is a weekly act that has become almost second nature to me by now. It does help that I have a plugin to allow me to load a template into WordPress before I even start typing, I can get to Falcom’s weekly special page blind by this point.

It’s kind of silly when you think about it. One particular page on my favorite game company’s website is probably the address that, on some days, I can rattle off blindly, without looking at the page. Others, I just shrug it off and keep going. However, another member of Sanctuary Crew, Sniff, put it to me very very well in our chat this morning… I told him that it just dawned on me that I’ve been doing this weekly special post, once a week, almost every single week (not always on time, unfortunately) for over four years now. My posting format has definitely changed since I started, but the fact that I’m still doing this is still there.

Sniff’s answer to my comment was this:

Every week, for 4 years. That’s…what…50ish weeks in a year? That’s 200 posts. That’s almost 7 months worth of effort on specials posts alone.

Then when I go back to look at my site’s dashboard, I see this:

The other day, I had a stopping moment when I realized that I’m right about 50 posts away from hitting 1,000 posts on Endless History. I also realize that every single one of those posts I wrote personally. I’m too much of a control freak to bring other people onto my site. I have a particular method to my madness and while I’ve considered it, I can’t imagine anyone ever wanting to work under me as their “editor in chief.” I’d be micromanaging how they’d even RUN their wordpress account. Unfortunately, this forces me to live “two lives,” as I’ve said before- one life according to daily business hours, as I do need to work for a living. I don’t make any money off of Endless History. I started to implement advertising, but I never completed it. …then I have my life that revolves around my website- entirely based on Japanese business hours to ensure that I can catch news announcements from Falcom as they come out.

It was WAY easier when I started. –and it was only after writing that when I realized that I’ve been working on this site longer than I’ve had my current job. I started on this site while I worked third and graveyard shifts at a 24 hour tech support center. It was perfect- those hours meant I was awake and coherent while Falcom was their most active on twitter. Now, when I anticipate announcements, I have to go home from work, get there at about 5:30 to 6:00, eat dinner, play with my dogs, and go straight to bed- only to get up at 2 or 3 in the morning to work on articles with the hope that maybe I can get in another hour or two of sleep afterwards.

It’s not just writing articles or researching them. It’s also the maintenance on the site. While I use a fairly heavily modified version of the wonderful Graphene Theme for WordPress, there is more than just maintaining the wordpress updates and so forth. I have security to maintain, search data, etc etc. If you look at the bottom of my site, there is a counter in the lower lefthand corner. This is the same counter as I used to have on the sidebar of the site in its earlier incarnations. Though looking at it, I realize that maybe I should redo the bg color to make sure it matches the background. This is my thought processes with the site. I see something, then realize it needs to be tweaked, or added, or maybe this WordPress plugin will be a nice addition to my “quality of life” when it comes to working on the website.

Sadly, this consuming process ends up eating time that I should probably share to this blog. Or to the “Minefield” project for Sanctuary Crew. Or the various scanslation projects I’ve got lined up for Eidenyaku. There have been days when I thought about stopping. …then I kick myself. This is not a post about stopping Endless History. I love working on it so much. It’s more a post of what goes through my head and how much my life has changed since I started to work on it.

And it has changed. A lot. I started the site, entirely hand coded, using CuteNews because I didn’t want to deal with a mysql database on my webserver. “Too much work!” I told myself. Then I realized all the work that went into writing each and every little article. Each little part of it. There were no categories, no tags, nothing diverse that I could do with it. Anything I wanted on the sidebar, I had to code myself. It was when maintaining the site itself started to consume ALL of my time every night rather than writing content for it. I hadn’t thought about the finer details- I was trying to make an English equivalent for Falcom Daisuki!, a Japanese page that I loved.


A variety of things happened. One, Sugimo had to close his site down. This meant more digging and research on my part, and two: I finally decided to take the plunge for WordPress. I jumped from Cutenews in Jan 2011, and it was the best change I could do for the site. It made my job immensely easier with tools and plugins and widgets that all did what I did before.

For now, I kind of took a break from Endless History to write this and do some updates to my own personal, and highly neglected blog. Hopefully, I can do a bit more to get this up and running and be more active on it. It’s certainly easier to talk about long-winded things on here than it is on twitter. Darn that 140 character limit! This little introspective article gives a bit more details into the life that I run with that bigger website, and hopefully, I can make it even better and get more access to press-type events. (I still need to finish my business cards!)

I want to keep working on this site, because I’ve met some great friends through it that I never would have- I even may have a “contact” or two with Falcom themselves, since I can often get someone on their twitter to respond to my questions on and off now. This is something I never imagined when I started working on this site- knowing people in the industry and so forth. I just thought it’d be great to have an English equivalent to an amazing Japanese fansite.

This means I have no regrets and I am very happy that things have worked out the way they have. Here’s for another 4 1/2 years to Endless History, I guess!


SOPA – Stop Online Piracy Act

Just so you guys know- there’s an LJ post that’s being spread around about this. And it’s not just… a little spread. It’s like… an entire single page of my friends list was seeing it and only it. Now… there’s something wrong with it. It’s old. Not like, super old. It was from last week. They had the congressional hearing on SOPA to vote on it yesterday.

They did not finish the vote, and the act is going to be amended to try to make it work. There’s already been a decision for it.

Now- I might say something that would rile people up, but… You know what? If they make it so that it doesn’t take down innocent people on multiple websites? Good. Because a lot of stuff that this act is meant to target is things like online pharmacies that are illegal. Or the spam that you’re getting for specific other things… or people who do stupid crap like leak a movie or game onto the internet weeks before its release.

Then there’s a loophole that it’s written for American IP’s (intellectual properly) on American IP (internet protocol) addresses and sites. It’s not built for international situations, which is also a problem.

But as a photographer, I’ve seen things such as people’s photography being used by major news outlets from stock photography sites. Without paying for them. What the hell, guys? This is meant to protect stuff like that, as well.

The only problem is, the text of the act proves that they do not have someone technically inclined working on it. This is a huge problem in our government nowadays anyway. There needs to be someone who can understand what these geezers don’t.

You know a quote from Wired?

“I’m not a technical expert on this,” the chairman of the committee said, adding moments later: “I’m trying to ferret this out.” When he introduced the package last month, however, he pronounced that the bill was needed because “Rogue websites that steal and sell American innovations have operated with impunity.”

I bolded the important part.


Yesterday, when debating the act, they never thought to call in an IT specialist. They wanted more lawyers. In the case of this bill, they need someone with expertise to know exactly how Google functions, to know how DNS servers function. They think that it might be easy to tell Google to stop indexing websites, when the whole search engine is primarily automated at this point. I don’t know how Google is setup on the backend, specifically, but I don’t think making it stop indexing sites here and there is going to be as easy as ‘flipping a switch’ or changing a setting on that particular site.

Nevertheless, now that this is out of my system… Please take note of things, when an article says something like ‘five days from now’ instead of giving an exact date, and people wait until the day of the event to start sharing it? It begins spreading misinformation (something that demandprogress is VERY good at, by the way). It’s important to read and research a post instead of just reading one post and spreading it all over the place. The EFF is a great site- better than the aforementioned website, in fact… and the information is good. It’s just outdated now.

I’ll hop off of my soapbox now and get to work. :>