Using the Twitter Search Box

On the right of the Twitter home screen is a Search box which lets you search the tweets. If used correctly it can help you find work opportunities.

Twitter Search box

Indexers have a particular problem. Searching for indexing will find thousands of useless posts, mainly about the computer-associated meaning of the word indexing, relating to indexing databases and the tables which Google builds to allow it to find websites. Searching for index is worse because it is the default name for a website page and so appears in literally billions of URLs.

Twitter does allow complex searches but it doesn’t appear to be documented properly at least nowhere I could find.

Symbols on their own as “£”, “$” or “#” don’t work, yet indexing finds different results than #indexing.

AND is implied and should not be included in the search string. The search indexing AND books finds fewer results than indexing books because it requires the word ‘and’ to be included in the tweet.

OR must be in upper case, otherwise it will be regarded as meaning that the tweet must include the word ‘or’. indexing OR books finds lots, indexing or books finds nothing.

OR binds more tightly than AND; brackets do work, and the order of words doesn’t matter. Enclosing something in quotes makes it a single item.

So:

  • “the index” indexing OR book
    means: “the index” AND  (indexing OR book)
    – all results will contain “the index”, and either the word “indexing” or “book” (or both)

but:

  • (“the index” indexing) OR book
    – all results will contain either ‘book’ or one of “the index” or “indexing” (or both), but some results will not contain the word “book”

So:

  • book indexing OR “the index”
    means: book AND (indexing OR “the index”)
    – all results will contain “book”, and either “indexing” or “the index”

This last search is the one which could be quite useful. When I tried it, I found in these tweets from the previous few days:

Question – just submitted my book to the publisher. 30,000 words and they want $500 to create the index. Is that the going rate these days?

Can anyone recommend a good f’lance indexer and a better indexing program than OpenOffice? A friend whose book is in peril needs fast help.

To me, those posters look like they would welcome advice and possibly help. If I was chasing work at the moment, they would look like potential clients.

Originally published online August 23, 2009, and in SIDelights (Society of Indexers Newsletter)
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