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Twing – superb forum search tool looks great and works great too


twing thumb1 Twing   superb forum search tool looks great and works great too

Twing is a new forum and community search engine which comes in a nice Web 2.0 wrapping and with some interesting features which make it stand out from the rest. There’s a few of these things out there that we’ve reported on before, like Omgili and Boardtracker, but this one now becomes the engine to beat for a number of reasons.

For starters the user interface is great. The front page is clean and features just enough info to keep you interested (although I reckon less clutter would make it even better). The search box has three tabs covering topics, posts and forums. I’m not sure quite why you need the forum tab, but the topic tab is there to help track particular forum threads rather than just general posts. Anyhoo, it’s easy to run up a quick search and get results, and that’s where the interesting part begins.

twing2 thumb Twing   superb forum search tool looks great and works great too

On the left hand side of the results page is a nice set of search filters which you can use to refine your results down to a more manageable level. Categories, phrases, dates, language, media, just about every criteria you might need. So for instance you can drag out every instance of a video link in forum postings on your subject matter, which is very cool. And it’s fast too!

The depth of results and this ease of sifting data really makes this a standout product for tracking conversations on just about any topic. The final icing on the cake is the ability to sign-up and track conversations in forums over time via custom alerts you set up.

The application also features the mandatory community section where you can track Internet meme type information, via a set of content boxes and a keyword cloud, which is useful for keeping track of what’s popular. It’s not mind-blowingly valuable, but hey I found it interesting enough to start watching a few Rick Rolling videos! Aaargh. Oh and there’s even a nice set of web widgets and a Firefox browser search plug-in to play with in the Features section.

twing3 thumb Twing   superb forum search tool looks great and works great too

All in all this is a really nicely thought out application, with a superb design and some well crafted features which make deep searching in forum conversations a breeze.  Excellent work folks!

 A Twing search looks at the entirety of a forum, rather than simply scanning the forum content. A Twing search collects the various parts of a forum post (topic information, subject, text, number of replies, etc.) and analyzes each piece of information to provide highly relevant search results that more closely match the term(s) for which a user is searching. As a result, a Twing search brings closer matches presented in a more highly indexed order.

Nigel is the managing editor of the Red Ferret, as well as a freelance columnist for the Sunday Times newspaper in London. Loves tech and fancies himself as a bit of a futurist, but then don’t we all?

Nigel – who has written posts on The Red Ferret Journal.



  • http://www.omgili.com J

    I tried Twing and I must say I disagree. It is an OK search engine with much less important features and coverage than Omgili.
    For starters you mentioned the search in threads (topics) Twing only searches the title on tht topic:
    http://twing.com/search?sc=ts&qt=best+laptop (222 topics)
    http://www.omgili.com/omgili.search?q=best%20laptop (87,000 threads)

    Other than that they have nothing, you can’t search separately in title/topic/replies, get results by a minimum number of replies, users, engaged users like you can with Omgili…

    http://www.omgili.com/advanced.html

    Their coverage is extremely slim when it comes to forums, not to mentioned that they don’t cover news-groups, mailinglists, review sites, QnA sites and other sources Omgili does.

    Sorry to sound like a fan-boy but common :)

  • http://www.redferret.net Nigel

    Fair enough J., as you may know I’m a bit of a fan of Omgili as well, so I’m not going to call sides too much on this right now. I based my content score on an iPhone search on Omgili (93,000 results) to one on Twing (172,000) which led me to believe that the content was comparable. I apologise to Omgili if I’m wrong on that.

    Competition is good, so let’s see how it pans out. FWIW I really like the Omgili Reviews feature. :-)

  • J

    Indeed competition is great and I was quite excited reading about Twing as it looks great, but I was disappointed when I actually tried to use it for my needs (I am a developer). I couldn’t find anything. I am not interested in the community graphs – they are a nice touch but nothing really valuable.
    Oh and BTW – when you searched for iPhone on Twing you got 172,000 posts, with Omgili you got 93,000 threads (or discussions) – the average posts in a thread is about 10-15 :) You do the math.

    Anyways I hope they will improve – I will be sure to give them a try!

  • http://www.twing.com Scott

    Twing has been out for a month or so. It’s growing fast. Really fast. In terms of quantity of content, I’d expect us to double within a month. And keep going for a long time as we’ve built out significant infrastructure. But, the thing is, we’re also not playing a numbers game. I could easily bump the numbers by adding back a bunch of “ghost” forums we keep out just to make things look bigger. Quantity is of course important. But really, relevancy and disambiguation by category are more important to us. As well, there’s a lot of stuff we can do, but for reasons of UI or our view of our customer’s needs, we’ve chosen not to. (Though of course, there’s new stuff on the drawing board. I’m just saying sometimes someone may say, “look they don’t have that,” and the answer is, “because we looked at others and our users and the market and didn’t think it added value for our users.” Someone else may make a different decision for their customer base. And that’s fine. That’s what makes for differences and choice. Which is good.)

    In any case, I’m not really interested in competitor bashing. There’s a small group of some alternative search engines that agree that forum users are an under served niche. Blogs are great, and there’s search for them. News as a vertical? Sure. Video? No problem. (Well, lots of problems actually, but a bunch of folks with varying approaches.)

    Forums, which have rich, deep discussion of great importance to millions of users? Where’s the search? Answer: In very few places. Right now, it’s important to us to build awareness and understanding of this content area in general. Forums had value in the pre-consumer web days of CompuServe, Prodigy and AOL. They got lost when the easy to create one-to-many web publishing tools and ISPs got the great masses flocking to the Internet. Yes, there may have been some early threaded board systems, but they were still mostly for the techie elite. Which is fine of course, but that did leave out a lot of content areas. Only recently has simple and relatively inexpensive hosting and the ease of production allowed these to begin to get some real traction. Web forums are the next 10 years in the making overnight success.

    Scott
    (Director, Product Management at Twing.com)

  • http://www.google.com J

    Scott thank you for this reply. I am constantly trying new search engines and I am looking forward for your innovations. It is good to see a variety of tools for the forum users. The more the better good luck!

    Jon

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