One of the richest areas of experimentation in search right now is how to rank real-time results. For the most part, that means finding relevance in Twitter and bringing up the most important Tweets for any given keyword (see OneRiot, Collecta,Scoopler). Today, real-time search engine CrowdEye is introducing its own real-time ranking algorithm called CrowdRank. It’s supposed to be like Google’s PageRank, but for the crowd.
Right now,real-time search is Twitter search because that is the richest source of real-time data. And Twitter search is essentially a form of people search. Twitter’s own search engine simply brings back a reverse-chronological list of the most recent Tweets that match the keyword you enter.
CrowdEye does that as well because often in real-time search you just want to see what is happening at this second. But now CrowdEye will let you sort by relevance as well, rearranging results by the most influential people on Twitter. (See screenshots below)
What exactly goes into CrowdRank? CrowdEye founder Ken Moss, who previously was a search guru at Microsoft, won’t reveal all the factors. But the number of followers someone has seems to be the main one. He says:
CrowdEye Rank has many inputs, and the list will be changing over time as we work to refine the algorithm. Obviously it includes things like how many followers you have and whether you are a “verified” twitter account. Less obviously are some factors we use to penalize spammers.
Fortunately, he includes other measures of influence too, like how many times any particular message has been retweeted. Otherwise @aplusk is going to show up at the top of every search.
But now that every person on Twitter has a CrowdRank, when CrowdEye returns results, it shows an actual CrowdRank number between 1 and 100 at the bottom right of each avatar for the top Tweets in results. There is also a directory of the top CrowdRanked Twitter users, but these seem to match up closely to the list of people with the most followers (which again brings us back to to @aplusk problem).
For any given search, CrowdEye returns the top Tweets as well as the top links. Another change today is that if you sign into CrowdEye with your Twitter account, you can follow anybody who comes up in search results or retweet a message without leaving CrowdEye. CrowdEye will also now give you a personalized list of people to follow based partly on who you are already following.
This list is much better. For me it suggested my former Fortune colleague David Kirkpatrick and New York Times reporter Brad Stone (I swear, I thought I was already following you guys—no wait, that’s on Facebook). It also suggests Stocktwits (I’m not really a trader), author Tim Ferris (yes), and MC Hammer (why not?).
And most ambitious of all, CrowdEye will create a personalized homepage showing you links and Tweets tailored for you (see bottom screenshot). It shows you the most Tweeted articles from your favorite pre-selected blogs and news sites or ones which match saved queries. So instead of an empty search box, you are greeted with a bunch of recent content to explore as filtered by both your personal preferences and the collective wisdom (or idiocy) of Twitter.