Harnessing the power of Twitter for the election

Harnessing the power of Twitter for the election

PB’s MORUS on standardised constituency tags

We all know, or should do by now, that there is nowhere better to be on an election night than in the comments section of PoliticalBetting.com – the 2010 General Election will be no different in that respect.

However, one development of the last 2 years means that we will have access to more information from the ground than ever before. Developments in the mobile web mean that it is now commonplace for people to be able to act as ‘citizen reporters’ from any event they are attending, whether or not they have a laptop to hand. Even with a simple phone like mine (let alone the snazzy smartphones that many of you have) you can post updates on live events to the micro-blogging service Twitter.

There will be tens of thousands of people tweeting the 2010 General Election campaign and the night of counting votes itself. Most of them will use a hashtag – #GE2010 – to mark their ‘tweet’ so that people can search just for election news on Twitter.

However, if they want to report constituency names, they might use any number of weird and wonderful shorthand tags (#Hampstead&Kilburn #HandK or #HampKil) – this makes it harder to search and categorise tweets to get the ‘bigger picture’.

To that end, many of the larger political blogs were invited to comment on a list of standardised hashtags (one for each constituency) that we are asking Twitterers to use, so that all the tweets can be collated and categorised (by region, by target, by party, by size of majority etc). This harmonised standard should maximise and optimise the early information we get from each count, giving punters and other interested parties as much early information as possible.

If you are on Twitter (and I recommend it as a way of getting news you weren’t looking for), please use the standardised hashtags in addition to #GE2010 – a full list can be found here.

PB.com is on Twitter: I’m @Morus1516, Mike is @MikeSmithsonPB, and Double Carpet is @electiongame

Hope this proves useful over the course of the campaign and on election night.


Note from Mike Smithson. Morus (Greg Callus) has played a big part in getting this initiative off the ground and I think that this will pay massive dividends on May 6/7. This is a very simple proposal that only works if as many people as possible are following it. We really do need to support the plan. So get familiar now with the hash tags for those seats you are interested in. The list is here.

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