If one thing has become obvious since the Iranian elections, it's the importance of social networking sites in getting information out of places where restrictions on other forms of communication are put in place. Anyone following #iranelection on Twitter certainly won't need me to tell them that.
Or should I say trying to follow?
The problem at the moment with #iranelection is that the signal-to-noise ratio is abysmal. Anyone in Iran trying to get new information out on Twitter by using this hashtag is just going to get swamped in the noise - unless they already have people following their posts.
This post by @swombat summed it up nicely:
think that maybe what Twitter needs is some kind of way for users to
indicate their approval *without* polluting the hashtag."
To which I replied:
"@swombat We need another symbol: if @ is for ppl and # for tags, how about % for support? #iranelection"
...further polluting the hastag... but how else to get the message out there? My thought was that the % tag looks like a pair of eyes, so is a tag for "this is what I've seen, check it out".
@swombat came back to me:
"@DoctorRad The question would be, then, how to make it catch on..."
To which the only answer I can think of is to publicise the idea and see if it catches on.
So, if you're actually posting something new which is directly related to the subject rather than further commentary, use the hashtag, e.g. #iranelection, but if you're re-tweeting or want to show your support, use the eye-tag, e.g. %iranelection.