Twitter Search = Fail

fail.whaleI don’t usually have negative things to say about Twitter.  Yes I have drunk the Twitter kool-aid, but this time I can’t ignore this.  We recently ran a Twitter contest where entrants had to send tweets using a specific hash tag.  The intent was to search all the hash tags and pick winners randomly.

Well, much to my surprise when the contest was to close, tweets went missing when I searched for the specific hash tag.  After some research, I came to the conclusion that the tweets were not missing, but not showing up in the search results.  Tweets older than 9 days were not showing up in the search results.  Try it for yourself.  Look at one of your tweets that is older than 9 days than use the Advanced Twitter Search.  Your tweet will appear to be gone.  What is even more frustrating is that on the advanced search, you have the option of search by date and going back prior to 9 days ago.  Why would Twitter have these options if the functionality isn’t there.

This is extremely important to know for those relying on hash tags and history on Twitter when running contests and such.  I’m not sure if this is going to be an on-going issue or to be corrected.  Needless to say, this functional mishap is a big fail in my books.

Have you needed to access historical tweets older than 9 days?  Please share your thoughts on this.

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  • http://www.designspike.ca Cody

    Search is pretty broken. We recently built a site that pulls out recent tweets using the Search API. It’s super annoying to have to explain to the client that’s there’s nothing wrong with our code. The problem is Twitter.

  • http://www.mikemccready.ca/blog/ Mike McCready

    I don’t know if this is new to Twitter, a side-effect of the agreement with Google, or always been there. With our Twitter contest, I was able to access all entrant tweets using the Mentions column of Hootsuite. So I’m glad that I can report how many entered and give all a fair chance of winning.

    I realize that Twitter’s big draw is the real-time aspect of it, but historical data and trending is still critical. I hope they fix it soon.

    Thanks for the comment.

  • http://squaredpeg.com Bradjward

    It’s been like this for MONTHS, and I hate it. They need to do something.

    Recommended strategy for next time: Create dummy account (@contestentrants?), and go through hashtag search daily. Ctrl+Click ‘View Tweet’ to open them all in tabs, then quickly go through and favorite all entrants. When you go back to http://twitter.com/username/favorites down the road, you’ll have them all. Pretty easy workaround if you need the data long term.

  • http://www.mikemccready.ca/blog/ Mike McCready

    Thats a good idea to favorite the entrant tweets for quick and easy reference. I was pretty worried when I could search the hash tag past 9 days. But it worked out in the end.

    Thanks for the comments and suggestions.

  • http://www.designspike.ca/ Cody

    Search is pretty broken. We recently built a site that pulls out recent tweets using the Search API. It's super annoying to have to explain to the client that's there's nothing wrong with our code. The problem is Twitter.