January 11th, 2010

Losing #pubmed signal to noise

Almost exactly a year ago,  I suggested using the #pubmed hashtag on Twitter as a form of group feedback and tracking about PubMed. Since then I’ve subscribed to the #pubmed RSS feed, keeping an eye on everyone’s triumphs, frustrations & randomness that was a relevant low noise signal, and still believing this might be a way for the National Library of Medicine to keep an eye on things in lieu of an official PubMed Twitter presence.

I now have to laugh at my own naïveté:

Medical information professionals have multiple channels of communication ranging from international to regional, state & association listservs, reading each others’ blogs, and social networking tools such as Twitter. We can and do share among ourselves! However, each of these communication methods can carry high levels of noise, or information that is neither concise nor relevant to what we are looking for in terms of helpful input…

A thought I had for a quick, easy-to-contribute, low-noise feedback mechanism for everyone to see, participate in, and track via a webpage or RSS regarding PubMed is the use of hashtags on Twitter by including #pubmed in your tweet.

Forget about that.

It began on December 30, 2009

Um, yeah.

Counting that one and the others through early this morning, there have been 67 of these #pubmed spam posts in 12 days. Maybe there was some spam usage of #pubmed before, but none of them caught my attention in an entire year compared to recently.  The real usage of the #pubmed hashtag numbers maybe 10 or so and completely drowned out by the spam noise (spoise?). It’s frustrating but I’m unsubscribing from the #pubmed RSS feed & highly encourage the @pubmedtoolbar to quit retweeting the spoise too.

Combined with the Digital Jester’s observation about Twitter spam (that Eric Schnell summarized nicely) a day before the #pubmed spam appeared, this is a disturbing new trend on Twitter for those of us seeking to use this channel, and particularly hashtags, to actually communicate and keep an eye on trends. What’s on the development horizon to filter out the Spamalope spoise?

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