A use case for hashtags


I think the tag feature in discourse, is awesome, however, there is a type of situation when it is not the best solution, and we need something that empowers the “bottom user” without giving him the ability to disrupt the overall structure of the forum. This is where hashtags would be useful.

I want to empower the regular user to group and create groups of posts by himself, without permission, without giving him chance to disrupt the subject structure, which is given by the category/tags structure (the ability to select categories/tags is already enough power given to them).

For instance I run a forum about news, commenting, reporting, and that stuff. In this case, tagging is very useful for grouping articles into subjects. For instance news about the current china-usa trade war I tag them as “trade-war” or “us-vs-china”. However if I give users the freedom to make their own tag, someone could come, post an article about the trade war and tag it as “fake-news”. Now, this is too arbitrary, and leaves room for lots of arguments (and I think forums where mods and users are constantly battling about categories or tags is apropriate for which post give off poor vibe). This makes us conclude that tagging posts in a forum like mine is basically an editorial decision, a.k.a. something I would not want to leave up to the user.

However, I still want users to have some power, in this case to be able to group posts by themselves, without permission of the mod-admins. This is where hashtags are useful. For instance let’s say the user above mentioned wants to post his article, but now he can’t choose “fake-news” as tag, because he can’t create tags, and his desired one doesn’t exist. He can still use the hashtag #fake-news in the body of the post, and thus grouping the post with other posts where that hashtag is present. Or say this overly skeptical user can come to a thread posted by another user, and post the hashtag ·#fake-news or whatever arbitrary hashtag he likes.

As you can see, I hope, is that hashtag are somehow the right amount of democracy inside the forum. It reasonably empowers the user within reasonable limits. And says psychology an empowered user is a motivated user. And a motivated user is a loyal user, etc etc.

Please consider this request.


the hash tags are already a selector for mentioning categories in post e.g. #support #support:wordpress
And tags usually aren’t supported to be used by a user unless explicitly allowed.


These kind of posts make me feel as if I am very bad at communicating ideas. Then I reread my post and realize that is not the problem.


This is controlled in settings.


We allow basic users to create tags on our discourse site.


I think what you are describing already works. Anyone can tag their posts #dingbat and even if the tag does not exist in the forums ‘official’ tagging system it will show up in :mag: keyword searches for #dingbat. If it does exist, it would be a link to a list of topics with that official tag.

This won’t work for every community and indeed I would find it pretty annoying in my own community. :slight_smile: I am so happy that discourse encourages ‘clean’ discussions without displaying signatures and other random clutter within posts. I routinely go through and tidy up posts to remove extraneous text that detracts from the conversation.

To make it work in your community you’d just need to encourage the use of hashtags in the community guidelines/culture, and your moderator team has to explicitly allow people to create their own tags within their posts. You will probably see some interesting norms evolve over time, along with some messiness and inappropriate hashtags. :wink:

Maybe I’m dating myself by bringing this up, but IIRC this is how hashtags got started in the first place on twitter - it was not a twitter ‘feature’ but a way for twitter users to organize themselves and find each other using keywords.


I understand the request and it has popped up previously in many incarnations this is the most recent one:


I recall a topic from 2013 but can not find it.

The idea is that user a write #banana in a topic and just like Twitter, it magically turns into a link and anyone can click #banana to find all posts with #banana.

The problem you will face here is that # is already taken so you will need another key or fallback logic… maybe ## or something. Other problem is that this twitter like feature would require lots of internal bookkeeping for trending hashtags and discovery and so on.

I don’t see this feature landing in Discourse but someone from the community could experiment with a plugin if they want to. That said I could only imagine very very specific forum where this feature would even be used.


I have deleted pretty much all the old useless topics from meta up through 2015. I may do 2015 and 2016 as well at some point.

The problem is that the symbol you’re recommending. I just added that # is already used for an existing functionality so it will be a major issue for people like me who have habituated ourselves to using it while mentioning a category.

@ is also used for mentioning users

so the left out symbols (that may make sense anyway) is * and I don’t know if either of those will make sense while making it a tag?

or maybe going the google+ route and making everything else mentionable by adding a + in front of it.

Just to triple clarify, this is not going to be a discourse feature, a community supported plugin or theme component if someone out there feels like playing with stuff.


TBH, I’m personally against it too!, the point that I was trying to make was that the existing feature shouldn’t be given up in favor of something that is almost unrelated.

I think the symbol of choice for this feature is among the lesser of my concerns.

This is a feature that would create an user driven “paralel” forum structure if you will, giving more “fun” to the users if your forum is not strictly about team work, which my forum isn’t and I bet there is a significant portion of the discourse isntances that are not work driven forums either.

The feature could be swiched off and that would address the concerns of those who are “against” it.