Buzz Search: Defaults Do Not Fly

February 22, 2010

Editor’s Note: Constance Ard, the Answer Maven, is one of the goslings. She wrote an overview of Google Buzz search functionality. Ms. Ard is active in the Special Libraries Association, heads up the legal interest group, and has an MLS with an emphasis on online search, taxonomies, and content processing.

With the release of Buzz flapping everyone’s wings over the last Internet half-life, it’s time to consider some practical application for Buzz. Danny Sullivan at Search Engine Land has laid the groundwork for searching Buzz.

For the record, the type it in the box and trust the search results, aren’t enough with this service from Google. You can see below, that Buzz, a social media tool that gets food from Twitter, Google Reader, Friend Feed, and SMS display results from a typical box search that are surprisingly old in the real-time scheme of things.

These results are for a search done at approximately 8 p.m. EST on February 17, 2010, through the Buzz search box with the term: Olympics. The first result is time-stamped 4:50 p.m. The last result was stamped 9:41 a.m. and the second was stamped 8:23 a.m. These are not exactly real-time results and not even reverse chronological in display.





The same search on (selected results shown below) done at the same approximate time provides even more irritating displays. Has anyone heard of time, date stamps? I understand that in real-time search hours count but in search, pinpointing an accurate date and time is essential.

As you look at the results, notice the first result was posted 7 hours prior to the search and the second hit was 5 days. How does this make sense?




On a positive note, the filter provided by Buzzy for hour (seen below) actually does get down to real-time results with the first hit being an item posted from Twitter 1 minute prior to search execution. Disappointing is the fact that no where on the page of results is a real date that can be used to capture data and show a point in time result.

Now perhaps it’s the law librarian in me that makes this lack of specific date and time particularly discouraging but even Buzz will find its way into the courtroom somehow, someway.


Delving a bit deeper into Mr. Sullivan’s tutorial on searching Buzz he offers some advanced search features. I tried out Mr. Sullivan’s tip on searching Buzz for “has:link” This search gave me a bit of confirmation that the search engine company that is synonymous with finding information is actually behind Buzz. Every result on the first long page of results included links. Note: This is an advanced feature and advanced features are not used by the majority of searchers.

The author search seems to work well although I’m slightly confused by one thing. A result that was retrieved when I searched for an author name and was designated as “uploaded by nickname” was not retrieved by a search for that same nickname. The commenter advanced search also seemed to work well and provided relevant results. does not appear to offer up the same advanced search features as are provided by Buzz. It was interesting to note that the results for a name search that I ran which retrieved about a dozen results in Buzz, retrieved only 2 hits in and none of them were the same. Also the time stamp for one of those results was displayed:


The actual posting was made on February 12. This was neither an intuitive, nor accurate date/time stamp.

Mr. Sullivan also discusses the activity of Buzz vs. Twitter. He doesn’t give real numbers because that’s virtually impossible. What he does offer is the summation that Twitter still has more activity than Buzz which is a pretty safe summation considering the age difference in the two.

Here are my key take-outs for both Buzz and searching.

Google Buzz

  • For accurate, results for “updates” follow Mr. Sullivan’s advise on using Google’s real-time search for the domain.
  • Advanced features for author, commenter, link/image/video work well.  Author’s Note:  I am not Buzzing so the email search for “is” that Mr. Sullivan recommends was not tested
  • A fatal flaw is the date, time display.  I’d rather have the results offered up with a true date and time than hours, minutes, seconds. Ideally both displays would be provided.
  • Relevance vs. chronological sorting is not apparent.  Neither seems to be the default.  Pick one and make it so.
  • “Googling” Buzz at this point in time does not mean users will “find” the answer.

  • First out of the gate as a third party service but with some serious flaws.
  • Filter features are good and seem to work well.
  • Relevance vs. chronological sorting is an issue for this search engine too.
  • No good date time stamp here either.  And no date on the page for search results to pinpoint a starting place.
  • Test searches demonstrate missing content.

I’m sure some will say that the whole point of Buzzing is the real-time nature of social media. I would answer that with: a) don’t provide search if updates are all that’s important and b) real-time obviously puts a premium on time so fix the date of origin.

Constance Ard, February 22, 2010 paid Ms. Ard to write her views for this Web log.


2 Responses to “Buzz Search: Defaults Do Not Fly”

  1. Buzz Around Analysis « Answer Maven on February 22nd, 2010 10:17 am

    […] the request of a client I wrote up an analysis of Google’s Buzz search.  You can read that analysis on the Arnold Beyond Search blog in the Featured Items […]

  2. Alex Grigg on February 23rd, 2010 11:33 am

    It’s interesting that Google doesn’t seem to offer a way to search buzzes for those who don’t have a gmail account. I kind of understand it, particularly with all of the privacy concerns that have have surfaced. Still odd that Buzzzy can use their API (or whatever they’re actually using) to pull the data and make it searchable to everyone while Google doesn’t provide its own interface for users who don’t have Google IDs.

    Or is there a public search interface that I haven’t seen?

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