A helping hashtag.

I attended the Pukkelpop festival last weekend, where, as you might know, a storm destroyed the whole festival area, causing lots of injured and the death of 4 people. (also some footage after the storm.., the tent with all the discoballs is where I was at..) As people tried to contact their friends or family, the rescue services rushed in.

An extra channel for help (when mobile networks fail)

The operators and their networks couldn’t handle the stress, and I resorted to twitter, with the festivals hashtag #pp11, for more info on what happened. Outside of the festival people nearby and after some time, even from further away, immediately responded with tweets offering help to the victims. They did this with #hasselthelpt (Hasselt is de place where the festival took place, ‘helpt’ is dutch for ‘helps’) or #ppshelter. Also the hashtag #ppok was promoted to let everybody know you were ok.

But, there’s a sidenote to this. First of all, there were two hashtags to offer help and shelter etc.. (maybe even more) And at first lots of people didn’t know this, someone has to start this, it was improvised within the hour, and it was already very chaotic, so they did this without hashtag or with the hashtag #pp11, making the timeline of the festival even more blurred cause the tweets from visitors were in there as well..

On the terrain, where I was standing, we didn’t know any of this.. After all, the mobile reception was very bad, the 3G network wasn’t always available .. A full timeline doesn’t help then.. thousands of re-tweets etc..

One universal suffix in the hashtag : SOS

That’s when I thought, wouldn’t it be better if you knew beforehand there’s a specific hashtag for help.. ? And when I thought about it longer, you should immediately know the hashtag for help, it should come automatically to you, without it being advertised.

Being the festival’s hashtag, which you probably already know + ‘SOS’, a word that is universally known for help and ALWAYS the same, worldwide. And it’s short!

So for Pukkelpop this would have been #pp11sos, but if I was to attend the Glastonbury-festival, it would be #glastosos. So, no matter which event you’re at, you always know : “add SOS” to the hashtag for help.

This is an idea that’s been in my mind since recent events and and I like to hear from other twitter or other social media users, experts etc.. what they think of this, but mostly how this idea could be improved and be put in action, globally.

Greetz, ToM.

ps: I wrote this in English because I have more than 50% english-speaking followers and I’d like them to give their ideas on this. Plus, if this idea is as good as it sounds to me right now, it should be used worldwide. But if you want to comment in your own language, please do, just take note that not everybody will be able to understand it.

ps2: If you do happen to speak dutch, here is my very personal experience at the festival.

  1. Martijn K.

    Another thing I noticed: retweeted messages appearing several times in a hashtag search, resulting indeed in a very full timeline. It would be nice if Twitter clients – or the users – would strip the hashtags from retweets, especially unaltered retweets. This way only the original tweet shows up in a hashtag search.
    The downside is: some tweets are incomprehensible without hashtags…

  2. Veerle

    would be very handy! i’m a fan.
    it will be used for little problems at non-apocalyptical events as well i guess (help, i’m stuck in the locker room), which is not a bad thing: as long as someone from the organisation follows the sos-hashtag

    @martijn some twitterwidgets already ignore unaltered retweets, should indeed be an option for twitter clients.


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