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Kate Greene

A View from Kate Greene

A More Useful Twitter Search?

The microblogging company has plans to improve the way its search results are ranked.

  • May 7, 2009

Twitter is becoming an increasingly important tool for real-time search–the kind people do immediately after a news story breaks and they want to find varied sources and read people’s responses. Right now, however, the results in a Twitter search are ranked by the content of the post and the time in which they were posted. This means that worthwhile posts on a topic are quickly buried under more timely posts that may or not be relevant.

But according to Rafe Needleman of CNET, Twitter is exploring ways to improve search and Santosh Jayaram, Twitter’s director of operations, has mentioned two major upcoming changes to Twitters search feature. First, the search algorithms will look inside the links found within tweets and index the content of those pages as well as the text of a post. Accessing this new layer of information helps weed out irrelevant posts.

Second, engineers are trying to develop a reputation system for people who use Twitter so that users with more clout rise to the top of the results. Jayaram didn’t say exactly how reputation would did determined, as the engineers are still figuring it out.

From my own Twittering experience I’ve found that there are a few factors that act as a shorthand for determining the usefulness of a person’s posts. I usually look at the frequency of posts, the number of followers they have, and how often an individual is referenced in a conversation and how often her posts are re-posted by others. Perhaps these are the sorts of things that will determine the way our relevance is ranked by Twitter’s algorithms.

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