Is Anyone Out There? Unpacking Q&A Hashtags on Twitter

In addition to posting news and status updates, many Twitter users post questions that seek various types of subjective and objective information. These questions are often labeled with “Q&A” hashtags, such as #lazyweb or #twoogle. We surveyed Twitter users and found they employ these Q&A hashtags both as a topical signifier (this tweet needs an answer!) and to reach out to those beyond their immediate followers (a community of helpful tweeters who monitor the hashtag). However, our log analysis of thousands of hashtagged Q&A exchanges reveals that nearly all replies to hashtagged questions come from a user’s immediate follower network, contradicting users’ beliefs that they are tapping into a larger community by tagging their question tweets. This finding has implications for designing next-generation social search systems that reach and engage a wide audience of answerers.

qna_hashtags_chi2014.pdf
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In  Proceedings of CHI 2014

Publisher  ACM

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TypeInproceedings
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