My side of the story on ZDNet

… is up: Twitterank Creator Speaks

The main thing I wanted to get at was that this was a small, casual hack, that blew up. The Twitterank algorithm isn’t particularly exciting, and it clearly needs more work. When I made the thing, asking for passwords seemed suboptimal, but not a huge deal since I figured most people would just be turned away by it. We live and learn, I guess.

Anyway, like most internet fads, Twitterank will also eventually fade away. But before that happens, something might come out of it. Or not. We’ll see.


November 13, 2008 at 9:52 am 4 comments

New Features!!!

I’ll never convince everybody that this is not a phishing site, but one thing I can do is to try and make it better. So, I’m staying up late to bring you new features. Yay!

Prettier URLs

You can see your (and other people’s) Twitterank by creating URLs like this:

Where do I stand?

I got a ton of feedback asking “What’s the number mean? Is this good or bad?” That’s my bad. I used the word “rank” but didn’t actually give you a ranking. That’s changed now. Under your score, you’ll see text that says “aprox. XXX percentile”. For example @t_rank currently has a score of 86.41, and “aprox. 83.12 percentile”. That means t_rank has a score higher than approximately 83.12% of twitterers that Twitterank knows about. This ranking is pretty fluid, and will change depending on your score and the distribution of scores in the system.

November 13, 2008 at 8:58 am 3 comments

Some follow up…

Thanks to everyone who posted a comment to the previous entry. Since it seemed like there were common questions, I’ll just answer them all in a single post.

Are you a phishing site? Are you going to steal my account? etc..etc..

No, I am not a phisher. I don’t even store your password. Your password gets used once to calculate your Twitterank, and is never stored on disk or any other permanent storage device. Having said that, people do need to be more careful about giving away their account information. I’m not evil, but the next guy might be.

How can we verify that you aren’t storing our password?

I don’t have a good answer, but I’d be happy to do whatever I can to help convince people that this isn’t a phishing operation. I know that the people who know me will vouch for my character and integrity, but I’m also open to showing a trusted 3rd party the innards of the system. If you have any suggestions, please leave a comment.

Why do you need my password to begin with?

There’s some data I use (but not store) that I need to calculate your Twitterank. There are ways for Twitter to make that data available without requiring you to give out your password to 3rd party sites (Facebook, Yahoo! and others have such systems) but Twitter doesn’t yet offer those options to developers. As soon as Twitter adds more secure authentication mechanisms, I’ll switch to that. (*Give or take up to a few days it’ll take to change the code.)

My score is x… is that good?

There’s no good or bad, per se, but a higher score means you are more active and prominent on Twitter. As you and your friends use Twitter more you should see your scores increase.

What kind of “ranking” is this?

I’m sorry the name is misleading. It’s not really a “ranking” even though the name implies it. The name is an homage to PageRank, an algorithm developed by Google’s founders, and is considered to have been part of the secret to their search engine’s success.

Please delete my account from your system.

Again, I don’t have your password, so I can’t abuse your account. But if you really really want to be removed, leave a comment and I’ll delete you from the system. (But please understand that I’m doing this for fun, and have a day job, so I can’t promise to respond instantly. I’ll do my best though.)

November 13, 2008 at 12:31 am 27 comments

Uh… hello

I’m setting up this blog in case anyone wants to follow future developments of Twitterank. Right now, Twitterank is spreading like a wildfire through Twitterverse, and that’s according to plan*. A lot of people seem to be asking “um, what’s the point?” The “point”, I assure you, is yet to come. Most of the interesting things can’t be done until lots of people have Twitteranks, but lots of people are indeed getting Twitteranks as we speak (about one a second, total of about 6500).

Also, you can follow Twitterank on twitter: t_rank

*Yeah, most of my previous plans never actually went according to plan, so I can’t say I was really prepared for this one. I probably wouldn’t have done this on DreamHost if I’d known things would go so well…

November 12, 2008 at 9:20 pm 34 comments

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