Hey, Twitter! I’m over here!

OK, I need to stop being negative on my blog, but this rant has to be posted publicly.

Twitter is a very useful service, and there’s a lot of new services popping up around it. Most of these new services actually rely on Twitter Search, though, and that’s where I’m in trouble. See, I’m invisible to Twitter Search. I’ve been using Twitter for nearly a year, but none of my Tweets appear. Makes it impossible to use hashtags, participate in Twibes and other things.

I first noticed the issue a few months back when I tried to start using a #wpfonyx hashtag when tweeting about my Onyx project. The hashtag wasn’t working properly, and it took me a while doing some research to figure out the problem was that I simply was invisible to Twitter Search.

On March 30, I opened a support request (Request 118748) explaining the issue. On April 1, @crystal closed the ticket with the following remarks.

Hello,

In order to appear in search, you must post updates first. If you haven't posted updates yet, you may not be indexed in search. After tweets are posted to your Twitter account, they should be searchable, and so should you. If you haven't posted updates yet, post some, and then wait. You should be indexed in search within 24 hours.

If you have already posted plenty of updates, and you're still not appearing...

We did experience some delays with new accounts being added, but this is now fixed. If you're still having problems, please check out this thread and add yourself to the comments with the info requested:

http://help.twitter.com/forums/31935/entries/29912

and we'll help you out. If your problem is unresolved and has to do with something other than not appearing in user search or search.twitter.com, please reply to this email to let us know.

Cheers,
Crystal

Please note, this was a full closure of the ticket, which meant it was dead. Nothing I could do with this ticket after that. Also note that it was closed without a resolution. The link given doesn’t lead you to a posting which can be used to resolve the issue myself, but rather just takes you to a posting saying “yeah, we’re broke, nothing you can do, but hey, maybe you’d like to put a comment on this page to let us know you’re broken?”

I thought this was horrid tech support. No company I’ve worked with would ever treat a tech support ticket in this fashion. What it comes down to is, they have a widespread problem, and don’t want to be burdened with having to track hundreds (thousands?) of tickets for the same issue. Their solution is this public forum posting. That’s a non-solution. From the customer’s end, there’s no longer any accountability. There’s no way for me to track the progress of the issue. So I put my comment on the page like they asked (which I did, more than once), and then what? They aren’t going to tell me when my problem is resolved. Theoretically I can get e-mailed with updates to this page, which I am doing, but that’s more than suboptimal. I now get spammed with nearly 30 updates a day, as more and more people add comments about how it’s broken, or still broken, for them. Worse, though, not only am I not able to track things, but Twitter Support isn’t either. They made some correction that evidently helped some folks out last month, but it didn’t correct the problem for everyone. There was no way for them to know that, however, unless people added new comments to this page. Now Twitter Support has the same problems with tracking that I do, but compounded because of the likely failure to track by the users.

On April 21, I got fed up with this and opened a new request, Request 196806.

Do me a favor, don't close this one out without actually resolving the issue, like you did Request 118748. Telling users to go to some "known issues" page and post a comment there is NOT providing support. Neither end can track the resolution of the issue through such a mechanism. That said, I _DID_ post a reply there, which wasn't acknowledged. I posted a follow up, which was also not acknowledged. The problem hasn't been correct, and I have no indication that work is even being done on the issue. This is extremely bad form.

My problem is simply that I do not get indexed by Twitter Search. You can find @wekempf in Find People, but none of my tweets appear in search. I've been tweeting for quite some time, so this isn't a PBKAC issue. Nor is it related to what you suspect is the problem for everyone else in the indicated "known issues" page, because my account was created several months (nearly a year) before you believe the issue to have occurred. Not showing in search is a big deal. Hashtags won't work for me. Various services such as Twibes won't work for me. All in all, Twitter barely works if you don't get indexed for searches.

This request was promptly marked as resolved (don’t know the exact terminology that Twitter Support uses here, but this is the state that should have been used with the first ticket, as it allows me to reopen the issue if I don’t believe it is resolved). The history on the ticket doesn’t show me the full history (yet one more thing they should fix), it only shows me the comments that I added. So I can’t reveal exactly what they said, but there’s enough in my response when I reopened it to give you an idea.

As clearly stated in this ticket, the previous ticket, and the infernal "known issues" threads, I've posted updates. This isn't a PBKAC.
"Profiles added in the last 8 weeks aren't being indexed by search. We're tracking this problem here:
http://help.twitter.com/forums/31935/entries/29912"

And, as clearly stated already, my account was created much longer ago than that.

"Support requests reporting this issue are being closed, as we're aware of and working on the problem. Please check the thread above for updates."

Translation: go away, don't bother us. Well, $%@$ you. Yes, that's not very professional, and probably won't get me anywhere, but you know what? I'm not getting anywhere any way!

This ticket SHOULD NOT BE CLOSED UNTIL THE PROBLEM IS RESOLVED. It's the only appropriate way to run ANY support tracking DB. The "group hug" site above leaves no accountability. MUCH worse is the fact that my issue IS NOT LIKELY TO BE RELATED TO THE ISSUES YOU ARE WORKING ON IN THAT THREAD. My problem doesn't fit the profile you've put forth there. So monitoring that isn't likely to do me a hill of beans. You'll find whatever THAT issue is and move on merrily, while I'LL STILL BE IGNORED BY SEARCH.

"When you're using 'Find People' to look for folks by name or user name, you can only perform 50 searches per hour before you're limited-- this is for abuse control and spam prevention. If you hit a search limit using Find People, try checking out Twitter Search's advanced search:
http://search.twitter.com/advanced"

Doesn't apply to me.

"If you're not listed in search and your profile is public, we may be investigating your account for a violation listed here:
http://help.twitter.com/forums/26257/entries/18311"

Doesn't apply to me.

"If you're sure that doesn't pertain to you and you still can't find yourself or your friends, add your comments here:
http://help.twitter.com/forums/31935/entries/29912"

Yeah, this is oh so professional.

Yeah, I know, I was a jerk here, and I’m showing my dirty laundry to the world. However, I think I was justified in being a jerk, since I was being jerked around by them. I understand Twitter is a free service for me, but that’s no excuse for acting so unprofessionally here. Heck, they couldn’t even be bothered to read the ticket, as the majority of their response had already been explicitly addressed.

So, in my humble opinion, Twitter Support needs a major overhaul. However, the problem isn’t just Twitter Support. Obviously Twitter Development has some major problems as well. They have a known issue that’s impacting a very large number of users. It’s a fairly serious issue, and not just a minor inconvenience. This should be high priority. In addition, as a developer myself, it seems to be a problem that shouldn’t be that hard to diagnose and correct, and if it is, that would just speak volumes about the codebase. Yet, here I, and many others, are… invisible.

This seems to be nearly as big of an issue as the stability problems Twitter suffered a while back.

Update:  On 5/13, Twitter shut down the forum page, claiming the problem was fixed. They also closed my support ticket. I was skeptical that the "fix" would apply to my own issue, and tweeted about it yesterday (along with several other tweets).  Today, I'm still invisible to search. So, my skepticism was well founded. They closed the ticket assuming the problems were the same, without testing, despite the fact I explicitly stated it was unlikely the issues were related. I've reopened the ticket, but I'm not holding my breath on this one.

1 Comment

  • Thomas said

    FWIW, I had 8 months of tweets disappear, and I followed the suggestion and added myself to one of those forum postings. It took a week or two, and they magically reappeared. I agree it\'s not an ideal support system, but you get what you pay for I think.

Add a Comment