Twitter’s search team is working on a project to uncover the most popular tweets for any search query, but it’s unclear when or where the project might be implemented.
Taylor Singletary, a Developer Advocate at Twitter, announced and described the project today in a post on the Twitter API Announcements group.
The Search team is working on a beta project that returns the most popular tweets for a query, rather than only the most recent tweets. This is a beta project, but an important first step to surface the most popular tweets for users searching Twitter.
And later in the post:
Until the popular tweet feature all search results have been sorted chronologically, most recent results at the top. If a search query has any popular results, those will be returned at the top, even if they are older than the other results.
The post offers very specific instructions to developers about how to implement the popular tweets search feature, but gives no indication how Twitter will rank the popularity of tweets. The post also seems to hint that Twitter will make the feature available at search.twitter.com, and not just via its API. But Singletary was non-committal when I asked him (via Twitter, of course) if and when this will happen, saying there’s “no official word on how/when/or if such results will surface on search.twitter.com.”
As Danny Sullivan has pointed out before, offering only the most recent tweets in reply to a search query invites spam and can create a bad user experience. But there are times that a searcher would want the most recent results — think in times of an emergency, or someone looking for current news/information. If Twitter does add “Most Popular” tweets to its search engine, it would be good if users could choose whether they want most recent or most popular.