It looks like Google might be launching a microblog search engine:
Google prepares to launch a service that indexes and ranks content from microblogging services like Twitter. Since it’s very easy to post updates and the posts are usually very short, micro-blogging services are great for live blogging, posting real-time information about an event.
Twitter’s search engine has two important drawbacks: it’s limited to Twitter and it sorts the results by date. While there are other search engines like Tweefind that try to sort Twitter posts by relevancy and search engines like Twingly that index multiple microblogging sites, none of them does a great job.
This is almost certainly a win for non-Twitter services like Jaiku and Identi.ca.
For Twitter, this might be a mixed blessing. They are clearly holding back some of their search results as they don’t provide full access to Twitter content for other systems.
This might just be because they feel that their main market is Microblog search and Google would be a competitor here.
I tend to disagree. This puts them in an unusual position of being at odds with their user base. Their users want to publish content in the public. If they are blocking 3rd party services from indexing their content they are doing their users a disservice.
Of course this might not matter if the users are unaware or don’t mind.
On the technical front. There is only so much you can do with microblog content for ranking. You can do a traditional IR score on the text but this only gets you so far.
Twitter search seems to just be boolean matching of results sorted by time (which might be fine).
Not sure if secondary metrics like ranking should kick in to resort results. It might be a good idea to use this just to prevent spam.
I think the major goal should be to put this in front of users and see what they think is best.
Update: I should note that Google doesn’t exactly have a big win with Google Blogsearch. It’s a decent product for sure but I find that the main Google search is better for blogs. Blogsearch has quit a bit of spam in it from our audits. We’ve compared Spinn3r to blog search both internally and from our customers performing audits and have consistently come out on top. Further, Blogsearch has problems that we’ve solved years ago (and have been solved by Google) so I’m not sure exactly what’s going on here…
It could be that Microblog and LIVE search is a totally separate type of product but Blogsearch is so close to the main Google search that it’s hard to differentiate them.
Perhaps a unified Blog and Microblog search would be best?