Hi: some questions regarding the popular tweets feature. These are all
based on a user-end interaction with search.twitter.com.

1. Is popular search moving to home page search at any point or is it
just staying on search.twitter.com? I wanted to know if the home page
will just be showing recent tweets as it does now.

2. What is the "refresh rate" if you will of popular tweets over a
given time period? What does "recent retweets" mean because there are
instances where that applies to minutes and others where the tweets
generating the popularity are hours or even a day old? As in, when
does one Tweet replace another tweet as a popular result for a given
query. This seems to vary across different search queries with some
being more stagnant than others.

3. Is there a "drop-off" point for the popular results for a given
query after the numbers of retweets subside that the results are taken
off or do they just stay there indefinitely until replaced?

4. Do you have a way of determining when irrelevant popular tweets
have been maliciously set as the result for a given query and will
they be actively taken off?

Here are some examples.

For the past twelve hours or so a search for "#nowplaying" has yielded
the following:


It almost seems as if the use of the popular tweet ranking in this
case actually takes away from the real-time search experience by
having dated tweets at the top of the queries. Once new results arise
for the query, these tweets are gone which gives way to a real-time
feed but initially these popular tweets are there and in this case
none of the leading tweets that are "popular" actually have the
utility expected from a user (i.e., users seem to use the
"#nowplaying" search as a way to scroll through tweets like
"#nowplaying Clocks - Coldplay).

It seems that for a query like this where users generally just scroll
through the list of results as a way to discover new music or even
other users and thus generally do not retweet individual tweets that
often for the query, there is a level of stagnation where old tweets
linger for hours as opposed to more active queries where individual
tweets gain attention.

Additionally, the popular search ranking in this case has no way or
weeding out artificial results that are not query related. The top
result from the image above is actually an advertisement being run by
a company that contains a link leading to this:


A search for instances of the two most popular tweets using the text
content of each one to show recent instances where they have been
retweeted shows the following results:


The most recent tweet of both the first and second most popular tweet
is by the same account. Here's a look at that account, which seems to
be set up for a very specific purpose.


There's also this account which retweets the top "#nowplaying" query.
The account is also clearly set up for a very specific purpose and is
retweeting a tweet that does not give users the expected query result
for a "#nowplaying" search.


This seems to show that the method of curating popular tweets may need
to take into account the retweet versus the output rate for a given
query otherwise the system can easily be taken advantage of to give
users irrelevant results based on similar tactics. That is, for the
"#nowplaying" search, even though thousands of tweets are being
outputed by users, not many of them are being retweeted so all it
takes is for someone to alter that dynamic as is the case here and
because of the "refresh rate" for the query, irrelevant results can
sit at the top for an extended period of time.

But in cases where a twitter users with involved followers starts a
discussion, the popular tweet ranking not only picks up on that
effectively but it also allows new users to the conversation to have a
reference point as is the case here (with the user's tweet being
listed first and then legitimate popular tweets right after):


And in cases where there is news or an event, it seems that retweeting
of a legitimate news source for a query leads to an instance where a
news source is immediately available as a result for the query.


In both of these examples, "recent" is truly recent as it happens
almost instantaneously.

However, these are still instances for even the more popular queries
where using retweets over a given period of time as a measure of
popularity can lead to irrelevant query results unless the refresh
rate of the "retweet count" somehow takes into account the fact that a
single instance of numerous retweets might not necessarily be relevant
a fixed amount of time later. In efffect, the popular tweets feature
can lead to instances where the content being generated about a topic
has moved beyond what was popular and being retweeted even a few hours
ago. So you end up with a part of Twitter that is actually slower than
the rest of it. Here's an example of that using a popular query:


The first image shows the query results and the second a search of the
text contained in the third most popular tweet. Although this is a
query for which there is always a tremendous amount of output, the
third "most popular" tweet about is one that a content search reveals
the last retweet to have been ninteen hours ago. Additionally, the
content of the tweet is not relevant to a current query about the
topic. This indicates that there is sometimes no direct relationship
between "recent" number of retweets and current output of content.

Osman Ali

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