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The Emperor’s Naked: Technorati

(Updates at the bottom)

Technorati is dressing up a dying sick body in fancy new clothes.  Who cares, if the body fails it’s basic functions?   

The latest new feature, Blog Finder meets more criticism than welcome:  here, herehere, here, to list just a few, but it’s all so irrelevant. Let’s face it: it really does not matter, whether this latest feature works or not.  There’s an old IT axiom:  Garbage In, Garbage Out.  If you have the wrong data to begin with, it really does not matter how many layers of extra services you put on it, the output is still worthless.

Everybody seems to be talking about performance problems; for example here, here, here, here, here and  here, but IMHO not getting data out of Technorati is by far not the worst; getting the WRONG information is far, far worse.  Techorati has major problems parsing the main pages of blogs built on standard templates of major bog platforms, and the result is the result is entries in their metadata where:

  • the body of a post appears with the title of another one (mostly, but not always, the previous one)
  • the body of a post is associated with tags of another one.

I myself, and other bloggers documented this before: here, here, here  and here again just giving a sample, and here’s a  little gem of a title and article that have nothing to do with each other:

Technorati

 (actually, the above image is a “triple whammy”: the tag, title, body come from 3 different posts)
 
I always wondered that if parsing the main page is so difficult (it is not, actually) why doesn’t Technorati use the permalink page, or even better, the RSS feed instead of the main page where they “get lost” – perhaps THAT is a performance issue?
 
In any case, as seen above, the search problems are the tip of the iceberg, the real problem is building the wrong index.  From a blogger’s point of view, this makes us look like complete fools – posting meaningless articles.

Now, let’s talk about communication:  emailing techorati support is a complete dead end.  Bloggers quickly learned the trick: emailing Dave Sifry (CEO), or perhaps Kevin Marks, or tagging blog entries with their names used to result in a response, and sometimes even corrective action.  That’s no longer the case.  I understand.  The CEO personally emailing back is not exactly scalable communication.  But why doesn’t Technorati have a searchable Knowledge Base, or at least a FAQ of known issues and solutions?  This is really Customer Service 101.

The SiliconBeat, Joi Ito, and many others welcome Dave Sifry’s post discussing the problems: “ Once we got our keyword search infrastructure back on track, our infrastructure team has been working 100% on fixing Cosmos search. Our current plan is to have Cosmos search back up and running by the end of September .“

Sorry, Dave, but your keyword search is far from fixed, it still results in timeout in more than half the cases.. in fact the Technorati homepage is often unaccessible.   On this chart  a response time above 3 seconds is considered critical – wow, I am generally happy getting anything below 30 seconds, if at all.   On the input side, Technorati claims to index posts within minutes, yet several influential bloggers complain they have not been indexed for weeks.   Dave strikes an honest tone and discusses some of the issues, but frankly, I doubt he really knows the status of his own business.

All this makes me wonder if Technorati is an “idea company” – they truly are Innovators of the Blogosphere, just can’t execute.  This makes me wish BL Ochman’s recent “hot tip” about an imminent buyout were true. 

 Update (9/10) This is pathetic:  New Orleans is listed as #6 on the Tehcnorati Top Search list, yet clicking on it results in this:

Technorati new orleans

Update (9/11) Can’t log in to Technorati account, infinite loop asking to log in again and again …


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Comments

  1. Great analysis, great post. In my obscure corner of the b’sphere, I kept sitting there looking at a blank screen, waiting for the “Sorry” page to come up where the cosmos results should have been. Each time, I would say, “Somebody out there must be experiencing similar things.” Thanks to Freshblog for pointing me here.

    Let’s hope the Technorati staff reads this as well as the links you’ve posted.

  2. Well, they do read posts tagged to them, I’ve seen evidence (responses) on other blogs. However, they stopped responding to me, even though I first privately emailed them repeatedly.

  3. Hi Zoli,

    You’re right, we have had problems with your posts before. I deployed an updated spider last night that fixes this for you and others. We also deployed further improved text search.

    Fixing cosmos is going to take longer, as moving 1.4 billion links to new servers will take a while.

    We’re still working on improving.

  4. Hi Kevin,

    Thanks for responding. How should I see the improvement, only in indexing future posts. or reindexing old ones, too? Old posts now appear to have several entries, with the correct, and also with the wrong title.

    Thanks again,

    Zoli

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