Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Why #yxu is a Bad Label

In the Twittersphere for London, Ontario there has been a trend recently to change what we use as a hashtag, or label, to identify tweets pertaining to our City and area.  For years now I have been using #LdnOnt as the hashtag for London.  As you can guess, simply using #London is often confused with London England and searching on that hashtag brings up both resident's tweets.  Recently, there has been an influx of competing hashtags, such as the current favourite #yxu.  Primarily, I see no reason to change my tried and true hashtag but let's see why I don't like #yxu.

Why is #yxu a bad Label?  It is Cryptic, Elitist, and Immemorable.

It is Cryptic because it is nonsense.  The letters do not stand for anything at all and you can not decipher its meaning by simply looking at it or cross-referencing it to any knowledge of London aside from it's actual precise representation.  So in other words, the only way to understand what it is, is to look it up and even then, it means nothing more than a code for London's Airport.

It is Elitist because if you do not know we are all using it, you would likely not intuit to use it.  My argument for this? How many people in London actually fly in or out of our Airport?  I've lived here for 6 years and have flown to British Columbia twice and don't even know where our airport is, let alone the code, I fly out of Pearson.  I have flown out of the Powell River airport twice and have no earthly idea what it's airport code is. Nor do I know the airport codes for Prince George or Orillia where I also resided for a number of years.

Ask yourself if someone in Hamilton or Chatham would think to look for London tweets by our airport code?  What about someone in Somalia?  I understand some major Canadian cities are using their codes, namely Vancouver and Toronto, but let's face it guys, those are two of the busiest International airports in all of Canada.  London is not.  So the way you'll know how to find our tweets is if... you already know the password into our elite club.

It is Immemorable because it is nonsense!  There is no mnemonic property at all to #yxu or any other airport code aside from pure coincidence.  For example, nearly every time I fly to Vancouver and decide to use the airport code at booking I have to double-check whether YVR or YYZ is Vancouver or Toronto - and that one even has a coincidental mnemonic in it (YVR has VR for VancouveR) but I start wondering, "or was it the opposite of what makes sense."  You see I can get doubtful because I know YYZ means nothing.  I know YXU means nothing.  How am I to remember them other than through sheer repetition?

In my opinion a good label, a good index, a good way for people to find each other is not something they have to learn.  It isn't something WE have to learn to use and memorize.  It is whatever comes naturally, whatever makes sense, and whatever means something. #ldnont isn't perfect, but it at least means something when you read it.


  1. Hi Chantelle,

    I'm liking it is more inuitive then yxu but what the heck does the K mean? Right there it fails a critical test for me, because I had to ask.

  2. That is the strangest airport code I've ever heard. I always thought the codes had some sort of mnemonic quality. Though I only fly regularly into a few airports.
    Austin's airport is AUS
    San Francisco's is SFO
    San Diego's is SAN
    Las Vegas is LAS

    These are the American codes, not the international codes.

  3. You make a convincing argument. London's airport is no LAX.

    I can see the value in gaining 3 extra letters, and in the standardization if EVERY Canadian city used its main airport code.

    However, I think your disadvantages outweigh any of that. #LdnOnt has survived because it emerged organically and is easy to remember to toss onto the end of a quick tweet.

    #LdnOnt 4 life.