Recently, I was listening to a person state "I know X has happened because I wrote the code for it". I wanted to call them out for citation in the vein of pics or it didn't happen. Since I was asking for source code, I thought maybe asking for the git hash was more relevant - and ( since source code can be a fluid thing ) followed immediately by the thought that I should ask for the tag name(s) associated with the code they claimed to have developed ( "hash(es)/tag(s) or it didn't happen" ).

My question for this forum is...

What is the etymological relationship ( if any ) between "hashtag" in common usage and hash and tag functionality in the world of CS?

Certainly the developers of Twitter were familiar with C programming languages and the idea that prefacing comments with an octothorp is a way of removing the trailing text as a piece of commentary. But is there a deeper relationship between

  1. the usage of the # character as the implicit indexing tool it currently is in the Twitterverse and
  2. the idea of hashing as as cryptologic function?

The ( perhaps somewhat contradictory ) affirmative assumption here being: while two bodies of text are different, the "checksum of the intent" ( as declared by each author ) are identical; and each entry should be known to be related to the other.

  • 2
    The octothrope character (#) is called "hash" by those that don't know any better. "Tag" is a general term for something that labels or identifies something else to which it's attached. A "hashtag", as used in Twitter, et al, thus is a tag that uses the octothorpe character as a "trigger" character to mark it's start. It doesn't get any deeper than that. – Hot Licks Mar 19 '16 at 3:02
  • Hashtags was thought up and named, and used by Twitter's users before Twitter's developers later adopted it. Read up on the history and origin at en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hashtag – Hugo Mar 20 '16 at 9:35
  • I don't think there's any relationship between hashtag and hash functions. The similar names are totally coincidental. – Barmar Mar 20 '16 at 10:35

The link given by Hugo indicates that hashtags (eg for Twitter) were invented by users rather than programmers. I'd agree and extend this to say this is likely to have been completely independent of source control terminology. In fact, tag and hash in computer science were probably conceived independently. The concept of tagging artefacts must've been around before computers. Hash as a verb maybe even stems from its use in the food industry, possibly also pre-computers.

  • 1
    Yeah, the verb "hash", as used in computing (and, more generally, mathematics), derives from the term's use in food preparation. – Hot Licks Jul 18 '16 at 20:03

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