Something that amazes me on Twitter, is that regular humans (non- programmers) are fine with, even good at adding little markup tags in tweets. So now that we have seen that the masses are cool with adding little tags and markup to freeform content, we should embrace it!
Since Facebook is the leading social network, they should also support a markup syntax in comments & status updates because it is useful for humans and computer programs.
It would be in Facebook’s best interest to improve the human user-experience and also in their interest to add semantics to status updates and comments so that they are more useful for Computer Programs. Facebook is trying to push what they call “Platform” which is a way to write computer programs that integrate with Facebook.
Here are a few of examples of how Twitter markup syntax is beneficial for humans and computer programs. Maybe with enough retweets of this article, it could actually happen
Twitter Replies and Mentions
Twitter supports the ability to reply and or mention another user and link to that user. From the Twitter getting started guide:
Any tweet beginning with @username is considered a reply. We call tweets with @username elsewhere in the update mentions.
- Get mentioned and new people notice you
- Notice people that other people are mentioning
Computer program benefits
- Indicates some kind of relationship between users – Example algorithm: mentions between two users may mean that those two users are interested in each other
Twitter supports the ability to group tweets. From the Twitter getting started guide.
Because Twitter provided no easy way to group tweets or add extra data, the Twitter community came up with their own way: hashtags. A hashtag is similar to other web tags- it helps add tweets to a category. Hashtags have the ‘hash’ or ‘pound’ symbol (#) preceding the tag, like so: #traffic, #followfriday, #hashtag. Hashtags can occur anywhere in the tweet: some people just add a # before a word they’re using, like so:
Hashtags are huge and they have so much potential that it is far too much to fathom, but I’ll take a stab:
- Easy way to tag / tie your post to a topic for others to find
- Easy way to search on a topic
- Real-time trends
Computer program benefits
- Provides additional meaning to posts
- Almost limitless possibilities
I could go on with more specific examples, but it boils down to this. Markup in free-form content:
- Makes new tools possible for users
- Provides semantics for computer programs
At the end of the day, I really don’t care if Facebook adds markup extensions. However, I do think it would be good for the web, so that user-generated content has more meaning. I would also push that if Facebook does implement some kind of markup, that they use the same popular markup that already exists on Twitter. Standards are the backbone of the web.