Tag Archives: search

What’s wrong with Twitter search?

Searching Twitter for brand names or subjects of interest is daily activity for quite a lot of Twitter power users, marketers or journalists. It works quite well if you are interested in the current buzz – the most recent and active conversations about anything. But what about older tweets?

Today, I was trying to find some older tweet – the information available: who posted it and it was a reply to me. Seems like a no-brainer with advanced Twitter Search, but not in this case. The tweet, I was trying to find, was older – 4-5 weeks in history and the Twitter search was not able to find it. What’s the problem?


After complaining about it on Twitter (how typical), I exchanged a few tweets about it with @simplytweet (developer of SimplyTweet iPhone twitter app) who confirmed, that its limited by design for around 9 days (that’s what I found out by testing on my own tweets collected by Twitter Tools). Only other mention of this kind of limit is in Twitter Development Talk thread – What is current search time range limit? (provided by @simplytweet too). The discussion points out one more thing – the limit was not that strict before.

EDIT: The limit of search is vaguely explained in apiwiki of Twitter – it also confirms the elasticity of the limit based on how much tweets par day is posted. Thx to @simplytweet once again :)

I understand, that searching through bigger database of tweets would be very intensive on hardware, but where is some notice about this? I would expect to get some message explaining this along with “no results” or under tweets, that has been found. Searching for older tweets is possible with Google which fails to get the tweets indexed in minute fashion, but got everything crawled through, when it gets older. Just use the right keywords.


I recommend Twitter to focus on some usability and reliability of their service before bold statements about becoming the “Real search”.