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Twitter hashtags: #uwo and #westernu

By Western Communications - 02/18/2011 at 1:57 PM

I've frequently been asked about Western's Twitter account and about the hashtag we use to mark posts as The University of Western Ontario.

Currently, there are two prevailing hashtags. Many people use #uwo to denote Western while we officially endorse and encourage #westernu.

I understand why #uwo is popular and seems like a logical choice for a hashtag. It's short and therefore easy to type, especially on a smartphone but I thought I'd take a few minutes to explain the reason why we use #westernu and feel it's the way to go.

  1. First, @westernu is our twitter name. It's easy to draw a comparison between who's tweeting and what tweets refer to us. While I think this is a pretty good reason, it's the weakest of all of the arguments.
  2. Even though it's widely referred to as such, Western isn't officially called UWO, it's The University of Western Ontario and the name is officially shortened to Western. When we first signed up for Twitter Western was, surprise surprise, taken (and so was @uwo, for that matter). We wanted something short when it was was chosen and the closest thing we could find that we felt was short enough and similar enough to Western's official name was @westernu.
  3. #uwo is a hashtag that has come to mean much more than Western achievements, events, and life. Not only does it reflect some community posts about Western, it also refers to:
    - at one time it referred to United Way Ottawa
    - it also refers to posts about and by The University of Wisconsin Oshkosh

Except for USC election time, only about 35% of the tweets that use the #uwo hastag reflect Western at all. Even if the tweet looks legit, it's often difficult to tell. If someone posts: "Where is the best place on campus to buy Skittles?" there is no way to tell if they're referring to Western or Oshkosh without looking at their profile. Even then, if the user hasn't filled in their profile (or at least their location), there is no way to know and possibly get them help.

So that's the long answer as to why Western officially uses the #westernu hashtag instead of the #uwo one. We certainly watch for tweets that use either hashtag, but it's easier for us to respond and see what great things are going on in the community if people use #westernu (and/or update their profile to reflect who or where they are).

We have no intention on asking people to change their Twitter habits, we just thought we'd share. Your thoughts are welcome and encouraged.

PS: according to google translate, uwo a Malaysian word. Can anyone confirm this? I'd love to know what it means!


Hmm seems you got a few spammy comment above! as for UWO mean as a word I have no idea, I did do a quick search on google but it came up with a lot of references to the university but will get back to you on that!
I myself am trying to come up with a hashtag for my site but I think #freelancedesignerinbirminghamuk is a little long for twitter! still will have to think on that one!
Interesting Post
-Phillip Dews

Haha, either that or people are seriously lacking command of the English language. I've always said - the shorter a tag, the better. Obviously using tags that contain some logic always helps.

Wow! Really interesting article. Thanks so much.

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Mathew Hoy
Senior Web Designer
Department of Communications and Public Affairs
e: mhoy6@uwo.ca
x: 88820

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