Twitter limits searches on site ... why?

Why would Twitter limit the number of searches a user may conduct -- a typical, relatively new user, such as me?

Two Twitter questions have been nagging at me: Why on Earth would Twitter limit the number of searches a user may conduct a typical, relatively new user, such as me, not some piggy third-party app or bot?

And, why on Earth would one of the most talked-about properties on the Internet make it so darn difficult to get an answer to such simple question?

Let's start with the first question first: On a recent Friday afternoon I was doing what Twitter insists it wants me to do, namely trying to find friends and acquaintances who are also Twitter users so that we can "follow" each other's "tweets," those tiny little messages that consume no more than 140 characters. Twitter provides a search box expressly for this purpose.

"Let's see," I would say to myself, "I wonder if my old pal Phil Intheblank is on Twitter." I'd type "Intheblank" into the search box, hit enter, and more times than not turn up nothing. On a few tries I'd find Phil or Bob or Sally and add them to my "follow" list. I did this maybe 15 to 20 times (I wasn't counting) over the course of maybe 15 to 20 minutes (I wasn't keeping track) before getting this message in response to my last query: "Sorry, you've reached your limit on searches for now."

Say what? It's Friday afternoon, news is slow, I'm trying my best to become a good Twitter citizen ... and you're cutting me off like some drunk who just fell off a bar stool?

Pique and curiosity prompted me to take the next logical step for one seeking an answer to a question about Twitter while actually being on Twitter. I sent this tweet out to my vast (not so much) network of Twitter followers: "Twitter search just told me: 'Sorry, you've reached your limit on searches for now.' ... (Here I used a naughty three-letter acronym for expressing incredulity.) No, seriously, (repeat naughty acronym) a limit on searches?"

I received one reply from a long-time friend/journalist/Twitterer: "I don't understand the search limit. Have you found any coverage of that?"

No was my answer, although I had just started looking for an answer. I scanned the Twitter FAQ and saw some passages relative to limits, but they were about sending messages and interacting with the Twitter API. As for limiting searches by an individual? If it's in there, I couldn't find it.

Two colleagues who have logged more Twitter time told me they had never encountered or heard of the search limit. Others have had the pleasure, though, and they were asking the same question: Why?

Twitter has another search box that promises you can "See what's happening right now." I entered "limit on searches" and that query turned up two full pages of Twitterers just as baffled as yours truly by this seemingly arbitrary roadblock. Here's one example: "I've reached my limit on searches; (There's that naughty three-letter acro again) I'm trying to add my social network; twitter FAIL."

I feel their pain, so the hunt for an answer would continue. I don't have any direct Twitter sources. The Twitter Web site offers no press contacts (insert three-letter acro), so I resorted to filling out a common user help request via their Web form. I quickly received an e-mail acknowledgement and tracking number.

That was Friday. By Tuesday afternoon that tracking number was all I had by way of a reply. There's the telephone, I reminded myself finally. I called and got a recorded message: "Hi, this is Twitter. The best way to reach us is by e-mail ..."

I sent an e-mail, which as of this writing has seen no reply. A post on my blog about produced much speculation about the search limit (abuse prevention, being foremost) — and even praise for Twitter's tactic — but nothing from Twitter.

Maybe they'll send me a tweet.

Join the newsletter!

Or

Sign up to gain exclusive access to email subscriptions, event invitations, competitions, giveaways, and much more.

Membership is free, and your security and privacy remain protected. View our privacy policy before signing up.

Error: Please check your email address.

Tags twittersocial networking

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Paul McNamara

Network World
Show Comments

Essentials

Brother MFC-L3745CDW Colour Laser Multifunction

Learn more >

Mobile

Exec

Sony WH-1000XM4 Wireless Noise Cancelling Headphones

Learn more >

Budget

Back To Business Guide

Click for more ›

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Tom Pope

Dynabook Portégé X30L-G

Ultimately this laptop has achieved everything I would hope for in a laptop for work, while fitting that into a form factor and weight that is remarkable.

Tom Sellers

MSI P65

This smart laptop was enjoyable to use and great to work on – creating content was super simple.

Lolita Wang

MSI GT76

It really doesn’t get more “gaming laptop” than this.

Jack Jeffries

MSI GS75

As the Maserati or BMW of laptops, it would fit perfectly in the hands of a professional needing firepower under the hood, sophistication and class on the surface, and gaming prowess (sports mode if you will) in between.

Taylor Carr

MSI PS63

The MSI PS63 is an amazing laptop and I would definitely consider buying one in the future.

Christopher Low

Brother RJ-4230B

This small mobile printer is exactly what I need for invoicing and other jobs such as sending fellow tradesman details or step-by-step instructions that I can easily print off from my phone or the Web.

Featured Content

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?