INCLUDE_DATA

Twitter Search: “select people from FOLLOWERS where ….”

by Sachin Balagopalan on December 27, 2008 · 1 comment

Loic Le Meur wants Twitter to make a small enhancement to the “Advanced Search” section of search.twitter.com. He wants them to add an authority parameter in their search criteria so users can filter the search query based on the number of followers people have.

We need filtering and search by authority. We’re not equal on Twitter, as we’re not equal on blogs and on the web. I am not saying someone who has more followers than yourself matters more, but what he says has a tendency to spread much faster.

Forget about the “We’re not equal on Twitter …” stuff because if you read between the lines, what he essentially wants is a filter where you can search for tweets by users who have a 1000 followers for example. I don’t think it’s a big deal for Loic or anyone else to ask for such an enhancement - I can see folks asking for other searchable attributes like number of re-tweets, comments or “likes” (as Scoble commented on one of the posts related to this discussion).

IMO the real issue here is not as much a design problem but rather a technical challenge and I’m specifically talking about scaling. If you look at the Advanced Search section on search.twitter.com you’ll see that filters can be applied on six attributes - words, people, places, dates, attitudes and other. Adding a search operator to one of these existing attributes, which are presumably already optimized and indexed is not a huge deal. However adding a new searchable attribute like Loic is proposing - as easy as it may seem - is really not that straightforward. To figure out the number followers per user involves, at the very least, joining two objects and counting each person’s followers to match the required criteria. Not only is the query complex but will no doubt also result in a performance degradation. More importantly a complex query like that won’t scale too well and the last thing Twitter needs is more scaling issues! I’m not saying it’s impossible for them to implement such an enhancement rather it may require some work on their part not to mention extensive testing.

I think the bottom line is since acquiring Summize this past summer they haven’t really done anything with it in terms of integrating it with the core product. I think once they do that a lot these advanced search features will be available.


{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

HoaiPX 03.02.11 at 1:39 am

Oh thanks, i appriciate that!

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