Dirty Politics

is the place to go for breaking news and leaks, analysis of the latest developments, or merely to see mud and witticisms thrown.

One of the best ways to follow such debates on Twitter is by searching hashtags. According to analytics firm Topsy, #nzpol is by far the most popular NZ election hashtag, although others, including #nzvotes, #decision14 and #vote2014nz, are also in use.

Partisan campaign hashtags include National's #TeamKey, Labour's #forabetterNZ and the Greens' #LoveNZ. Dwarfing any of these with more than 40,000 tweets is #DirtyPolitics. Since Nicky Hager's book launched on August 13, the hashtag has been in up to 3000 tweets per day. Because hashtags are completely organic and by no means obligatory, the true number will be far higher.

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The most popular tweet using the #DirtyPolitics hashtag so far has been from Giovanni Tiso (@gtiso). Shortly after the book's launch, he tweeted a smiling John Key with Whaleoil blogger Cameron Slater, accompanied by: "This picture. I see no reason why we shouldn't take turns tweeting it for the next six weeks." Tiso's photo-tweet has been retweeted over 1000 times - unusually high given the lifespan of a tweet is usually seconds.

One of the most useful purposes of Twitter has been to crowd-source analysis of the latest Whaledump hacker leaks - now @Whaledump2. Minutes after each release watchers locate and tweet on excerpts.

Thursday's Whaledump included conversations between Slater and Taxpayers' Union head Jordan Williams (@JordNZ), containing derogatory remarks Williams allegedly made about women. In response, Matt (@mfairh) tweeted: "I wonder if Jordan Williams is sorry for being a man at the moment?" Williams reacted to the release with: "Re Whaledump material - I reviewed the material and made the necessary apologies some weeks ago." It did little to placate critics.

A common theme has been general disbelief at the ongoing revelations, even from seasoned observers. Duncan Garner (@Garner_Live) tweeted: "This whole saga reminds me why I left the Press Gallery and Parliament ... No regrets. Not one."

An antidote can be found in the many lighter tweets. This from @hcirePT: "It almost makes you long for the times when wrongly signed painting and speeding were biggest Prime-ministerial scandals."

• Otago University political experts Dr Bryce Edwards (@bryce_edwards) and Geoffrey Miller (@GeoffMillerNZ) are following Twitter's impact on the election campaign.