Three Related Conference in One City

Last week, as I mentioned previously, I attended the Online Information 2009 conference, held in Olympia London on 1-3 December. But this wasn’t the only conference of interest to me which took place in London last week – the 5th International Digital Curation Conference was organised by colleagues of mine at UKOLN and the UK Museums and the Web conference is an event I have spoken at in previous years.

But as well as the content of these conferences being of interest to me, these conference also made extensive use of Twitter, which enabled engagement with the conference discussions to include people who weren’t physically present and allowed the conference outputs and discussions to be read and analysed afterwards. In this post I provide a summary based on statistics of the use of Twitter at these events and suggest that we will need to explore ways in which misuse of event hashtags (by Twitter spammers) can be tackled.

The Online Information Conference

As might be expected for an international conference aimed at information professionals the event had a conference hashtag (#online009) and, despite problems with the WiFi network, according to Twapperkeeper archive for the #online09 tag, there were 2,351 tweets published between 22 November and 5 December 2009.

Additional statistics are provided by the WTHashtag service. The accompanying image was created by this service.

I should also add that I used the Tweetwally service to create a ‘Tweetwall’ of the event’s tweets – but it seems that this only displays tweets posted in the past few days.

The IDCC Conference

The 5th International Digital Curation Conference (organised by DCC – the Digital Curation centre – which included colleagues of mine at UKOLN) was held on 3-4 December 2009. As described on the Digital Curation blog this was an amplified event, with an event hashtag (#idcc09), a live blogger (the @idcclive Twitter account) and a live video stream. According to the Twapperkeeper archive for the #idcc09 tag, there were 782 tweets published between 2 and 5 December 2009.

Additional statistics are provided by the WTHashtag service. The accompanying image was created by this service.

The UK Museums and the Web conference

Finally the one-day UK Museums and the Web conference was held on 3 December. On this occasion According to the Twapperkeeper archive for the #ukmw09 tag 706 tweets were posted between 27 November and 5 December 2009.

Additional statistics are provided by the WTHashtag service and the accompanying image was created by this service.

Exploring The Twitter Communities

Detecting Spammers

We have some statistics which seems to indicate that Twitter has played a significant role in supporting these three events.But might these raw statistics be skewed by Twitter misuse, such as Twitter posts from spam followers? In order to seeks an answer to this question I have made use of Tony Hirst’s software to analyse Twitter communities centred around an event hashtag.

As the software is based around a combination of a Twitter user as well as the event hashtag I had to chose a Twitter user likely to have a wide following in order to explore the community tweets. I used myself (@briankelly) for the #online09 conference and Mike Ellis (@m1ke_ellis) for the #ukmw09 conference. I had intended to use Chris Rusbridge (@cardcc) for the #idcc09 conference but no results were provided for this twitter ID so I used the official event live blogger account (@idcclive) instead.

You can view the findings for the #online09 conference; #idcc09 conference and #ukmw09 conference.

Tony’s software does correctly identify spammers on the event hashtags. Some, such as @ProvidenciaAmar have already had their account suspended whilst others,such as the helpfully labelled @MommyIsSoSexy ID is still available, and can be easily identified as a spam account. But have other Twitter accounts been incorrectly labelled as spam accounts, I wonder?


Some of the early adopters of Twitter felt that Twitter was very much about the individual and was ;of the moment’, with no need for archiving tweets for reuse or analysis. I think this is no longer true – or, rather, this is no longer the only use case for Twitter. In the case of use of Twitter to support events we are definitely seeing people wishing to view the tweets afterwards. In addition the popularity of Twitter at events has its downside – and we are seeing an increase of Twitter spam, with inappropriate content and links being labelled with popular event hashtags.

Tony Hirst’s software has made some initial steps in exploring ways of automatically identifying Twitter spammers. I suspect that such techniques will soon be embedded in Twitter tool. But since Tony’s approach is based on Twitter users which have been connected with a trusted user, this approach will not necessarily work for events with a more distributed network, with no well-established Twitter ‘hubs’. I wonder if an official event Twitter account might provide such a hub, allowing users to follow the account in advance of the conference. At the IWMW 2009 event we used two official Twitter accounts: iwmw and iwmwlive and the live-blogging Twitter account was also used at the IDCC conference (indeed the idcclive Twitter account was managed by the same person, Kirsty McGill).

What do you think: a sensible development or unwanted complexity liable to stifle Twitter’s flexibility and informality?

Twitter conversation from Topsy: [View]