Twitter Breaks Twitter Search, Cries “Feature”


Dear Twitter,

I don’t want to yell. I don’t want to fight. We’ve already been down that road before and, well, I know that it affected our relationship and I don’t want to go through that again. It’s Friday and I’m having a really good week. I just want to talk, calmly, woman to woman. Is that okay?

Obviously, I’m obsessed with you. Let me just be honest about that from the very beginning. I’m also a few hundred tweets away from 40,000 so clearly I’ve been at this for a while. I’m probably what most people would call a “power user”, meaning I use your service a lot, not that I’m actually good at it. Either way, I enjoy your product and I enjoy other products that allow me to use your product better. But recently you broke one of those. In fact, you broke the one that you, coincidentally, happen to own. And that is why I’m writing you today.

My name is @LisaBarone and I need you to unbreak Twitter Search. And I need you to do it right now.

In case you think I’m being cute – I’m not. Whatever you did during your recent Twitter Search upgrade, please hit Ctrl+Z and undo it. Because New Twitter Search sucks. New Twitter Search sucks real bad.

What am I talking about? Well, I’m glad you asked. Because I actually have a list.

Finding Tweets Is More Complicated

As a rule, I’m not a fan of things getting unnecessarily more complicated. I’m a simple girl and I like simple things. I would think that this would be something you’d agree with me on. I mean, Twitter is pretty much based on the “simplicity” concept, no? But your upgrade, however unintentional, has made things more difficult for users. And it’s because you’ve applied invisible filters that weren’t there before.

There have been numerous complaints from users that the new Twitter Search is “broken” because it no longer compiles ALL the tweets from a particular search or because it doesn’t dig deep enough into tweet history.

For example, here’s a tweet from Brett Tabke (@btabke). He owns a conference called PubCon and is kind of a big deal.

Here’s another one from @erniehalter:

That’s how users are feeling. To your credit (maybe?), search isn’t broken; it’s just that you’ve changed it and added the number of steps users need to take to get what they want. It used to be that doing a Twitter Search would bring up ALL the results for that query. And that made sense. But it doesn’t work that way anymore. Now, by default, users will only see the Top tweets coming from established users. You did this to combat spam, but it also means that we’re not seeing the TRUE results unless we select All Tweets from the drop-down. That’s an extra step. And for some, it’s an extra step they don’t even realize they’re supposed to take.

Maybe filtering can be an opt-in step, not an opt-out step? I think that would be less confusing and less complicated.

I’d like my RSS Feeds back

Do you know what I loved about Twitter Search? And I mean loved? It was that I could subscribe to an RSS feed to track terms I was interested in. I don’t use a lot of 3rd-party tools so I really appreciated the simplicity of this and how easy it was to build monitoring Twitter into my daily routine. However, with the new upgrade, I can no longer do that. I can no longer subscribe to an RSS feed for my searches. Instead, you’re forcing me to use Saved Searches. And while I get that and it’s your right to do that – you’re again making things more complicated for me. I don’t like it. I just wanted to throw that out there. I’d really like my RSS feeds back. RSS feeds were a big part of how I used Twitter Search.  If they’re gone, then I don’t really need to use you at all. Especially when Google puts real-time back in its SERPs.


Advanced Search doesn’t work Didn’t Work For ~2 Weeks

So up until this morning, clicking the big blue button below did absolutely nothing.

Like, crickets. I just stayed there.

For nearly TWO WEEKS!

Luckily, I re-tested it this morning and it finally appears to be functional. So, I guess thanks for that? But…two weeks to make a button work? Really?

The trouble with the Search upgrade isn’t really the lack of RSS feeds or the added drop-down menus, its that you’re making easy things more complicated with no benefit to the user.  And that’s a problem. It causes confusion, frustration, and wandering eyes.

I’m just asking you to understand how your users were using this product and then give us back the functionality and the ease that we loved. Because it feels like this upgrade has missed the boat a little. And I know I’m not alone in this thinking.

We loved Twitter Search, even if it was always a little wonky. Please give it back to us. If you want to fix something — fix its reliability, make it go back even farther, etc.  Because even though you’ve been the Big Dog in social for the past few years, Google is coming for you. And you’re gonna need us. Now’s not the time to be burning loyalty with brand advocates. Now’s the time to show us what we’d be missing if we left you for that other guy. This is the time to rally the troops.

Just something to think about.

– @LisaBarone


*True story. Earlier this week during lunch the ladies had a rousing discussion about which social networks/search engines were male or female. It was decided that Google is a dude, Facebook is a girl and that Twitter was also female.

Your Comments

  • Miranda Miller

    Agreed, the new search is a PITA. If they could also fix whatever it is that prevents certain (seemingly random) people from appearing in search for months at a time, that would be good, too. I couldn’t appear in search results for months (ie. at a conference, using the hashtag, no one can see it), despite several useless help requests, and know of another person who filed tickets for 18 months before it was fixed.

    • Lisa Barone

      Ha, yeah, I’ve heard multiple repeat that Twitter Search hates them for whatever reason. Usually it’s because Twitter thinks they’re spamming (sometimes they are) or they’re abusing hashtags. However, I’m probably the biggest hashtag abuser there is and I’m still showing up. I’m not sure what the deal is with that. I just want my Twitter Search back!

  • BrentBillock

    Yes! I rely on twitter search to pool all the relevant Tweets for Cincinnati-area networking events on, and it would be much much easier if search were still available as RSS. As it is, I’m running a Yahoo Pipe that throws as many errors as results, due to Twitter search’s lack of reliability.

    • Lisa Barone

      That’s awful :( I realize that people like you, me, and the folks reading this blog may be the norm (are we really though?) and that normal users might not even notice missing RSS feeds but I really want mine back. I don’t like when others make me less efficient with lame changes.

  • steveplunkett

    This was discussed on G+ with Google people getting involved..
    came away from it thinking.. “ok.. so we are waiting on contract between Google and Twitter to be negotiated”

    or Google to buy twitter and roll it into G+??

    Since Google has already beat Facebook and Twitter for the auth process.
    it’s now about the battle for the status update. Someone thought.. “they can just search on twitter” – well twitter doesn’t have all the tweets in the library of congress indexed already like google does, do they?

    but you are right.. Google needs to bring realtime twitter search back..

    ohh.. remembered.. they are… (looks for blog post where they addressed it.. )


  • steveplunkett

    found it..

    it’s on mobile now.. so.. they have an agreement?

    dunno.. #justsayin

    cya @ pubcon since it’s kinda of a big deal.. =)

  • Stever

    Search button was completely inactive for me in Chrome but worked fine in FireFox. Weird. Thought it was a browser cache issue, cleared it and nah, it wasn’t a cache issue. Works today though.

    I do a lot of location based searches and there is no longer an option to set a search radius :(

    After making a location search I can however still edit the query string;

    keyword near:”City Name” within:15mi

    and change the radius distance that way, but location based results seem wonky and maybe only showing a sampling of results instead of all of them. Or at least a smaller sampling than they used to show if indeed they never showed all of them in the old search tool.

    Twitter search, I am disappoint

    • Lisa Barone

      I checked multiple browsers too to check and see if it was a browser issue with the Advanced Search…but they all borked. Firefox finally started working with it this morning.

      That location thing is a bummer for small business owners looking to connect with real customers. Seriously, just give us our twitter search back. :(

  • Daryl Woods

    While I appreciate your thoughtful narrative on this issue, part of me wishes you’d started this post with, “Twitter, I’d like to punch you in the face.”

  • DJ Waldow

    Lisa: Yup, Twitter search seems to be bonked. Only 3 results for @lisabarone is awesome? Broke.

    See you in LA for that Bear Hug. I’ll hunt you down…

  • Tanner

    I absolutely agree, but the way you’re all going about this just feels… wrong. Maybe it’s the wording specifically. It’s like complaining that the sound of your own chewing is forcing you to turn up the TV and you’d like someone to do something about it.

  • BrentBillock

    Have a look at Topsy.

    Their advanced search seems pretty powerful and lets you set the date range. Plus you can subscribe to a search via RSS. It looks much much better than Twitter’s own search.

  • Gene Wicker Jr

    If twitter fades away I have a feeling it will not be because another social media property supplanted it, but because Twitter itself got in the way of its own success.