Techmeme listens: 32 months in the making, search arrives!

Tuesday, May 20, 2008 2:31PM ET
by Gabe Rivera     Permalink

Hours after Techmeme launched in 2005, search uberblogger Danny Sullivan remarked "there's no keyword search facility that I can see. I want that, and soon!" Nobody wants to let Danny down, so I got right to work and 32 months later, a search box now sits atop the site.

Well, actually, work on search was rather seriously delayed. For years, I blew it off since it always seemed a secondary concern. Techmeme was focused primarily on surfacing the newsworthy, not providing Yet Another Blog/News Search. Even Danny came to agree with me on that point.

So why now? As an increasing number of users became increasingly dependent on Techmeme, one common use case emerged: people wanted simply to recall things they'd seen on the site early. Another use is best illustrated in the "Techmeme Posts" listed in the right column of CrunchBase's Facebook company profile. These are posts about Facebook that surfaced recently on Techmeme. Listing them in reverse chronological order offers a concise list of the company's latest milestones. This shows that another great use for search is in producing a timeline of major events for any topic.

Posted headlines only, newest first: Techmeme Search returns items that have appeared as full headlines on Techmeme, in reverse chronological order. Headlines appearing only in "Discussion" are excluded. This way, Techmeme Search aims to surface only the most notable results for a query. For more exhaustive results, services like Ask Blog Search, Google News, and Topix already do a good job of returning everything that they've indexed.

Though a search box sits atop Techmeme's main page, you can also find one in the obligatory bare bones search-only start page at

Full text search isn't default: There are two overall modes of searching, depending on how "close" a result is desired. The default mode only returns matches occurring in the title or the first couple of sentences. Searching for "Yahoo" in this mode typically return stories about Yahoo. Unchecking "Search title & summary only" on the result page (or the bare bones page) enables search of the full article text. In this mode, any article simply mentioning "Yahoo" will appear.

Narrowing results by source url, author, date, and other attributes is also supported. For instance, "sourceurl:" returns posts only from the blog Search Engine Land (as seen here). A concise list of all the search operators involved is available through the "Advanced" link on a search results page (or again, on the bare bones page).

What's next? Search for Techmeme's sister sites are planned but not active as of today. Also on the way are RSS feeds for search results, the simplest kind of search "API".

Final note: I'm happy to report that Techmeme Search was implemented not by myself but by Techmeme's first hire, Omer Horvitz, who's also an old friend of mine. So I can now say "we" when referring to Techmeme. I'm still trying to get used to the sound of that.

Update: Some coverage around the web: TechCrunch broke the news here. Techmeme Search is and even "kills" Technorati for Mashable's Stan Shroeder. Charlie Anzman is pleased with "TechMeMe" search. Amit Agarwal provides a link that instantly adds Techmeme Search to Firefox's or IE's toolbar. Download Squad says Techmeme is now "useful to the general public". Amit Chowdhry says it's helpful for "media researchers such as myself". Susan Mernit wants RSS by tomorrow. Techmeme Search lands at Search Engine Land, and appears inside Outside the Lines. Nick Bradbury has enabled Techmeme searches inside FeedDemon. Search Engine Journal and weighed in. The "My Blog Posts" blog measures mentions of Indian cities with Techmeme Search. Blogcosm offers a general roundup.

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