Hypothesis is an open source, non-profit project and company which has developed an open protocol for annotation across the web through the W3C. It is also specifically focused on supporting academic use. The public-facing tool is free for people to use and their company is supported by paid integration of their platform into learning management systems at the institutional level.

Although the platform is centrally hosted and managed, the protocol-oriented approach of the organization enables the model to be developed in a more decentralized fashion.


As almost all student use of the tool is private in small groups at the classroom level and not done in public, below are some examples of well annotated public web pages to give potential adopters a perspective on the tool and it's social annotation use:

Use cases

Encourage and evaluate active reading

Note taking tool

Social network

  • With RSS feeds, a feed reader, and the social annotation piece of its functionality, the platform could operate like a social network. Given the the work to do some of this manually and the speed at which it could operate and its overall design, it is much harder to make it have some of the toxicity of other corporate social networks.

Commenting system

Social bookmarking tool

  • The use of "page annotations" along with tagging can be leveraged along with browser extensions to turn Hypothesis into a simple bookmarking service with search. [4]

Blogging platform

How to use it


A bibliography related to Hypothesis:

Bibliographies about social annotation, many of which include information and use cases for Hypothesis:


  • Google Group Hypothesis Forum (for support, questions, collaboration)
  • Hypothesis Slack Channel
    • Some members of the Hypothesis community communicate with each other using Slack, an online tool that enables us to talk about annotation technologies, practices, and events in public and private groups and message each other directly.
  • CrowdLaaers a tool to explore social learning analytics associated with Hypothesis annotation.
  • Lindy Learn Annotations shows new public web annotations from and Hacker News.
  • Zocurelia (Zotero + Hypothesis for reading groups)
  • DocDrop, a tool for annotating documents, Google Drive docs, and YouTube videos with Hypothesis