I recently got an idea where I would provide a search engine based on tweets. If you search the web there are already a handful of them doing this. But what I have in mind seems to be unique enough that I would most likely go ahead and do it.
As I started prototyping my idea, I noticed a few things. It looks like when multiple words are used, Twitter’s search looks for all the words (may be excluding stop words). It would be good to have the most relevant tweets presented first and then move on to less relevant. That is, the initial tweets should contain those that have all the, say, 4 words in the search and then 3 words and then 2 and finally just 1. May be going all the way to 1 may result in a lot of noise. But certainly, the exact number of words in the search and one less than that would be good. But doing this also has the problem in refreshing. Today the refresh happens based on all the tweets since the most recent tweet and the tweets are presented in chronological order. Of course, there is a popularity option as well in the APIs, but for this example, ordered by time is what is important. So, it would be difficult to digest a sort order that contains both time component and the relevancy component in it.
Another thing that completely perplexed me was when I searched for Zi8, I ended up with a tweet in my prototype that didn’t make sense at all to me. But upon further investigation, I noticed that the zi8 is part of the bit.ly shortened url. I personally think it’s not necessary to index the shortened urls as they don’t really contribute to the search except to create a noise like this. I mean, who would be searching for tweets where the shortened url contains Zi8? Now if you are wondering why I did that search, it’s the model number of Kodak’s Full HD camcorder.
When I searched for search engines based on twitter, there are a few articles that presented 9 or 10 such search engines. I looked at them, looked at their alexa ranking and their user interfaces. I think, some of them are doing good but some will probably fold in a few more months. In fact, as Twitter itself enhances it’s search engine, many of these other 3rd party search engines are likely to go into oblivion.