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Topsy Searches Twitter Better Than Twitter | NYTimes

Topsy is a dedicated site for searching Twitter. It’s better, it turns out, than Twitter’s own search functions.

If you’ve tried to search for tweets on Twitter’s built-in search box, you know it can be frustrating.

For a currently popular topic, you’ll get dozens of recent tweets. For an older topic, you may get no results at all. Twitter has an advanced search page, but a better alternative is Topsy, a dedicated Twitter search engine. It’s so good that even Twitter’s official guide for journalists suggests using Topsy to research news topics.

Topsy’s advanced search, linked from its home page, lets you search for specific Web domains or Twitter users, tweets posted during a specific period of time in the past, and for all tweets with the word “lady” but not “gaga.” You can also specify only tweets that include photo links, video links or Web links.

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Topsy has indexed tweets back to mid-2008. It does not keep them all, but it does keep the ones that were retweeted a lot, or that came from people whom Topsy deems influential because they are often retweeted or cited in other people’s tweets. That same influence algorithm lets you sort search results by relevance rather than in chronological order.

Topsy is also a good way to check in on what’s hot on Twitter right now. The site’s home page features a frequently updated list of trending links, again sorted by relevance. For example, if a few celebrities tweet a video, it will rank higher than one tweeted by a larger group of little people. And there’s a special page devoted to trending videos. Click the video thumbnail, and Topsy pops up a video player rather than sending you to YouTube or another site. Right now the top video is a bunny playing with a ball of string. The people have spoken.

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