Pear Analytics Twitter Report: Criticisms of the coding methods

By | August 15, 2009

Pear Analytics produced a study about the usage of Twitter, and I fear they reveal more about their own organisational ability than then do anything about Twitter.  I’ve read the public white paper, and I’m finding myself doubting the value of the report simply on the basis of the categorisation Pear used for their twitter coding.  To describe it as limited, overly broad and prone to motivational bias is a charitable way of saying it’s poor quality, and I’d send it back for revision if this was a conference paper, and bounce the damn thing straight to reject if it was a journal article.  (Don’t really want to think about the pain I’d inflict on a student who turned this in as an essay).

Discussion of the Categories

(1) News: Any sort of main stream news that you might find on your national news stations such as CNN, Fox or others. This did not include tech news or social media news that you might find on TechCrunch or Mashable.

So by news, they don’t actually mean news that would be “news” in a social media community.  Fair enough. If “social media news” is excluded here, where was it included?  Specifically, there’s also something suspect about the division of news content in this manner – does this include original news such as the Hudson River tweet, Iran elections, election coverage, sports reports and score updates from live events? Is it restricted to the rebroadcast of news articles with short URLs? Can blog posts of original opinion columns similiar to those located in the websites of major news stations? Is it video/visual/audio news rather than text?  The selection of CNN, Fox or others indicates a bias towards the television style news rather than the print media – which is odd for a written medium.  I have doubts over the nature of this category, and believe it may significantly under report.

(2) Spam: These are the tweets such as “See how I got 3,000 followers in one day” type of tweets.

Fair definition.  Although I wonder where the line was drawn for content coding – did this include the keyword spam accounts who send @messages based on automated keyword triggers? Or did those @spam triggers fall into the conversation category?  Minor question, and I think this is a fair and well set up definition.

(3) Self?Promotion:  These are typical corporate tweets about products, services, or “Twitter only” promos.

Did this include press releases, blog post updates (like the one that appears on Twitter for this post) and private user self-promotion? For example, when I talk about social marketing course work, or presenting at a conference, or announcing an attendance at an event, did I sit in the corporate self promotion?  As with news, I think this category is possibly under-reporting, and I suspect some of the self-promotional was counted as conversational.

(4) Pointless Babble: These are the “I am eating a sandwich now” tweets.

If I believe that this was the singular use of the category, I’d still have concerns.  I freely admit to “pointless babble” posts which have sparked long conversations, been retweeted and more than a few times, a single silly tweet from me has more traffic and mileage than my “serious” tweets.  I’d also be interested to see whether this category included any tweets with hashtags – eg the  livebloogging of a conference.  Liveblogging isn’t news, spam or self-promotion, and the stuff I did under the #INSM09 tag doesn’t count as conversation either.  Was it pointless babble? Possibly, except that it was a rationale for a lot of people to start following that account.

(5) Conversational: These are tweets that go back and forth between folks, almost in an instant message fashion, as well as tweets that try to engage followers in conversation, such as questions or polls.  Note: Now, if there were any tweets that could fit into more than one category (which was rare), if it started with “@”, we deemed it as conversational, even if it was a news item or self?promotion.

A good piece of clarification that conversational could absorb tweets from any other category area just by virtue of having an @ or being a question or poll.  I think this category grossly overreports, and absorbs from other areas – I’m suspicious that a question can be conversational in nature,

(6) Pass?Along Value: These are any tweets with an “RT” in it.

A rebroadcast tweet counts as a pass-along. Fair enough.  But what about the RT of a “pointless babble” tweet? Would a RT mean the original tweet has value to the ReTweeter, and therefore, requires a new category?  I would also have liked to known where the 8.70% of RT originated from – conversation, babble selfpromotion or news?

Broad Concerns with the study

1) What value was placed on hashtags and URL shortening? You’ve recognised RT and @, how about the other advance use behaviours?

2) Which category contains the “tech news” or “social media news” that you might find on TechCrunch or Mashable?  Did it become an RT once @Mashable/@Techcrunch posted it, and sit inside self promotion initially?   Was it classified as a conversational once people talked about it? Given original statements of tech news or social media news was were explicitly excluded from being news (despite the fact you can find tech news and social media news on News  Corporation owned news sites), it would have been nice to have a statement in the white paper about where these items were included.

3) Defining all other categories as “pointless babble” strikes me as a case of over-reporting to create a desired result, rather than actually assessing the state of play of the Twitter content.  To demonstrate this possible problem, I coded the Foxtel Television channels for content within the existing twitter categories. Given it’s a one way broadcast medium, I declined to allocate “Conversational” to any channel.

10%    News (any recognised news network channel)
34%    Pointless Babble (anything not classfied elsewhere)
10%    Pass along value (the +2 channels)
41%    Self promotion (any named or branded channel such as National Geographic, MTV, Fox* or Discovery)
5%    Spam (pay per view or home shopping)

* Fox News was counted as self promotion since it’s a for-profit entertainment network rather than a legitimate news media outlet.

Is Australian television mostly pointless babble and self promotion? Well, that depends – I deliberately didn’t cast Fox Sport as news since it’s a named self promoting outlet, and if I recode sport broadcasts as news channels, then news forges ahead to 18%, pointless babble sits at 34% and self promotion drops to 30%.  So TV is just pointless babble and self promotion, and has no merit, right?  The content classification approach is problematic at times, particularly when there’s a considerably negatively worded catch-all category to pick up the unclassified.  Incorporating a judgemental categorisation system designed to condemn rather than report will bias the overall outcome – for example, if I change one label, the summary of the results changes remarkably

(1) News  3.6%
(2) Spam 3.75%
(3) Self Promotion 5.85%
(4) Collective Goods of Value (Pointless Babble)    40.55%
(5) Conversational 37.55%
(6) Pass?Along Value 8.70%

Suddenly Twitter is the most vital thing ever if you want community  since it’s so vibrant if you take Rheingold (1993) “collective goods of value” as the interpretation of the statement about what you’re having for lunch, along with the existing massive conversation structure. Since conversation and collective goods of value are precursor conditions for the creation of cybercommunity, then Twitter is the perfect cyber community incubator system.  If you code “Misc.other” as the foundation tools for a community, it’s all good.If you’ve decided that Twitter is a waste time/space/bandwidth, and arrived at the study with a preset attitude and a desire to prove the waste of space hypothesis, setting a broad classification of “Pointless Babble” is a great way to prove your point, and demonstrate some poor levels of market research, analysis and analytical thinking.

Plus, at 40.55%, I believe there would have been an opportunity to start digging deeper into the nature of these “pointless babble” posts to separate them into Facebook update style “I am here with Y, doing X” and  “letting you know I’m alive and okay”, truely recognised as “babble” (cat posts, misposts, and other apparently “useless” content), the social network ping command versus recommendations, shoutouts jokes and fourth-wall breaking messages.

Clustering it all under “babble” shows a lack of investigative desire to actively pursue a more meaningful investigation of the content of the twitterstream. It’s a shame, because with a more active method, a deeper interrogation of the data and a bit of desire, Pear Analytics should be able to produce something remarkable from what they’ve captured.

ETA: Sarah Monahan has been in contact to let me know she’s no longer with Pear Analytics.

ETA2: Pear Analytics responded to some of the community comments on their report on their blog.

References

Experience: The Blog: Twitter’s 40.55% “Pointless Babble”: The Insights Mainstream Media Missed, http://www.experiencetheblog.com/2009/08/twitters-4055-pointless-babble-insights.html (Accessed: Sat Aug 15 2009 16:47:44 GMT+1000 (AUS Eastern Standard Time)

Twitter Study Reveals Interesting Results About Usage | Pear Analytics, http://www.pearanalytics.com/2009/twitter-study-reveals-interesting-results-about-usage/
Sat Aug 15 2009 16:46:52 GMT+1000 (AUS Eastern Standard Time)

Read this complet guide by Ryder White for more information.

Rheingold, H. (1993) The virtual community: Homesteading on the electronic frontier. New York: Harper Collins women’s motorcycle helmets

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32 thoughts on “Pear Analytics Twitter Report: Criticisms of the coding methods

  1. Sarah

    Hi Stephen. I’m Sarah and I am one of the people who actually did the Pear Study. This wasn’t meant to be some ground breaking study. It was just a simple office study that way too many people have just latched onto and decided to rip apart after feeling slighted that I think their little nuggets of wisdom were uninteresting and put into the pointless babble category. Before everyone gets all upset, they should all go to the Public Timeline of Twitter and read through the posts. There’s a lot of really boring crap in there. Stuff that may potentially be interesting to your closest friends, but not to the other 1000 people who follow you. We actually went into the study right after the Iran election hoopla and in the midst of all these companies latching onto Twitter. We thought more people would be using Twitter as a news and promotional tool. Some people did use it that way. However, there was so many other people on there posting random stuff, it was really watered down. But to give you some insight on how we categorized the posts; If some DJ posted on there they were playing at a club tonight, I counted that as Self Promotion. If some guy tweeted that he was “at the club with his niggaazz and ho’s”, I put it into babble. If there was a post about going in to record at the studio, self promotion. Headed to Karaoke? Babble. See the difference?
    As for your look at the Australian tweets, you’re getting to look at a specific set of tweets. We looked at the World TimeLine. Many of the posts weren’t even in English. (We didn’t count those) But if I had seen the post from the Govt about the Tsunami after the earthquake in NZ, I would have categorized that as news. Footy results? News. Footy player in trouble with the law again? News. Some guy posting that he thinks Shane Warne is a wanker. Well, I might find it funny, but anybody else over here might think it’s just babble. Some person tweeting that he hopes the Rabbitos win? Babble. Fox News reporting that the Rabbitos won a game? News.
    While you may think Twitter is a great little cyber community, it can be too much information, or the important stuff can get lost in all the babble. You may Tweet out something important to you, but it’s getting lost amongst all the other posts. As an Aussie myslef, I follow several people back in OZ. It’s always interesting to keep in touch with people back home and see what’s going on over there. But I’ve had to unfollow some people because they just post too too much about stuff that has no use to me. They might think people need to know every time they get off the couch, but I don’t need to know that much about someone. Especially if it’s someone I haven’t met in real life. I’m just saying.
    Anyway, don’t get all upset about our numbers. Feel free to follow the public timelime yourself and see if you come up with different numbers. I wonder if after the 3rd day you’ll still think of Twitter as a wonderful cyber community or if like me you’ll want to walk the dog in the rain instead of looking at people’s random jibberish. Trust me, after looking at the Public Timeline every half hour for two weeks, watching old Sydney Swans footage of Warrick Capper will look like a treat.

  2. James Purser

    Sarah, the biggest problem with your report isn’t the numbers (though 2000 posts from a stream of how many millions isn’t exactly representative) it’s the approach.

    Twitter is not a broadcast medium. What you call “random jibberish” has a hell of a lot more context for the people posting and receiving than those who just sit and watch the public time line. My “I’m now at the train station” may look like pointless babble, but to those I’m meeting it’s an update of my location and that I’ll be there soon.

  3. Stephen Collins

    Sarah points out the public timeline of Twitter can seem inane. I’d suggest that using the public timeline as their model proves further that Pear’s intellectual rigor on this project lacked considerably.

    Twitter users do not, anecdotally and empirically, observe the public timeline as the basis for their interaction with Twitter. To do so needs to be a deliberate choice. And it’s not a choice users make.

    I’d give more credence to what is quite obviously a product shill (yes, I’ve read it) if their observation model reflected real world usage.

  4. Stilgherrian

    A bit defensive there, Sarah, eh? Come on… fess up. The “study” is just a piece of fluff so you can hype up the “Twitter is full of pointless babble” meme, so in turn your client Philtro can say “Look! Our Twitter filter removes the babble!” That’s the same Philtro that’s so shamelessly pimped at the bottom of the original Pear Analytics blog post, yeah?

    Twitter isn’t a single “cyber community”. It’s many overlapping communities. And, if you listen in on the naked conversations of a community you’re not interested in or people you don’t know, well, surprise surprise! It’s not of interest to you. No big secret there.

    Stephen’s right on the mark. The categories are subjective and overlapping, and who an incredible ignorance of actual human phatic communication. As science, it’s right up there with the Ponds Institute. Got your white coat on, Sarah?

  5. xtfer

    Wow, talk about outing your prejudices.

    “If there was a post about going in to record at the studio, self promotion. Headed to Karaoke? Babble.”

    What? Have you missed the point of end-user value entirely? You’ve classed tweets purely based on your personal perception of the value – which somewhat undermines your study. What is babble to you may be news to me, what is news to me may be self-promotion to you… but at the end of the day, if it creates value for the end user then it CAN’T be babble, under your definition.

    But thats only the beginning… What about threading, hashtags, conversations… What about other forms of entertainment (what if I happen to find posts about kitteh amusing?)… What about actually applying some theory relevant to social media rather than the web 1.0 world. Stephen has made many of these points.

    Also, I think the frame of reference is wrong. Who sits there and reads the public timeline hoping to find things relevant or interesting to themselves? Twitter isn’t built this way. It gives you a timeline of people you are following, and some apps allow you additional searching capabilities.

  6. Warlach

    I’d like the back up Stephen – at what point is the public timeline an appropriate method for analysing Twitter usage? Sarah, by defining tweets in the public timeline through your own assessment you treat that as your personal timeline, creating feedback which is inaccurate at best and waste of time at worst.

    Twitter can’t be analysed in the same way one would approach a forum or traditional “all in” web community – by deciding who to include in your stream on a user by user basis you define the experience and severely reduce the amount of “pointless babble” that comes through.

    I won’t even touch the fact that the way you frame your first example of babble (“at the club with his niggaazz and ho’s”) in a way could be considered racist or at least culturally superior, but I would wager that the people who follow that account do get value out of knowing that kind of information, otherwise they would stop following them. I’m curuious as to what weight (if any) was given to follower numbers in relation to whether tweets were indicative of popular Twitter practices or merely idiots shouting at the void?

    Yes, I agree I’d find most of what’s in the public timeline to be uninteresting to me, but, surprisingly enough, no one uses Twitter that way. You mention you have a Twitter account, yet I’m sure you don’t follow everyone you can find and then complain that none of its of use to you.

    By your very own definition it would seem that the report presents information on how nobody uses Twitter, followed by showing why it would be ridiculous to use Twitter in that way anyway. Perhaps you can follow the report up with an analysis of Flickr made without the monitor turned on?

  7. Stilgherrian

    Also, Sarah…

    If some DJ posted on there they were playing at a club tonight, I counted that as Self Promotion. If some guy tweeted that he was “at the club with his niggaazz and ho’s”, I put it into babble.

    So, if they’re a DJ it’s “promotion”, but “some guy” it’s “babble”. How are you judging people’s value here? By whether you know they’re a DJ or not? By whether they’re communicating business and work needs rather than social? By whether they use “correct grammar” rather than street slang? That’s just snobbery, possibly even racism.

    You also refer to Twitter as “on there”. Does that indicate that you don’t actually use Twitter conversationally yourself, that it’s something you look at rather than participate in?

  8. Stephen Dann Post author

    @Sarah. Welcome to the hornet’s nest. When you put out a public white paper, issue press releases, and generate media copy at the rate your “little office report” is generating, you’ll get feedback. Welcome to the business, and enjoy the ride, and when you make declarative statements, expect responses.

    1 – Your carefully chosen and selective use of racism in the dismissal of the value of a specific tweet is unacceptable. Again, this reveals more of you than any value of twitter.

    2 – Thanks for clarifying some of the conceptual frameworks used to classify the twitter stream.

    3. I understand that you had a hypothesis “We thought more people would be using Twitter as a news and promotional tool.” and as such, the lack of news and promotion content was a disappointment. That does help make sense in the context of the report, and does indeed assist in the framing of the report and analysis.

    4. You’ve misread my re-use of your framework. I was using the framework to code television channels on the Australian pay-tv provider Foxtel to demonstrate how the breadth of a single category could skew the results. I wasn’t looking at the Twitter public stream.

    5. I disagree with your framework for relevance being based on “Stuff that may potentially be interesting to your closest friends, but not to the other 1000 people who follow you”. I think that represents a fundamental mischaracterisation of the service – particularly when you personally appear to understand Twitter, and how Twitter users self edit their follower stream if the follower exceeds a personally held noise:signal ratio. Relevance on Twitter is contextual, and is a classic example of the co-creation of value in a real world scenario. I follow those who I wish to follow, and those who want to see what I am writing will follow me.

    There seems to be a disconnect between the results of the white paper, your obvious understanding of how to use Twitter, and how the report was presented to the public. It’s a shame that an innovative exercise in data gathering and analysis was let down by some problematic interpretation and encoding.

    Also, where did you classify social media news?

  9. Sarah

    Wow, you all take your Tweets way too seriously. As for the whitepaper, I am merely one of the people who had to sit through the endless banter on the public timeline. Everyone has an opinion on why the whitepaper was crap. Of course, how you use Twitter will affect the Tweets you read. However, if we only sampled one particular persons timeline, it wouldn’t give us a view of how other people see Twitter. So we used to public timeline to get an overall feel of what’s going on on there.
    My particular reference about the DJ’s; I actually looked at people’s profile to see whether they were an actual DJ, or just some dude talking about going to the club. I wasn’t being racist. I was shocked by how many times I saw the N word on there. I guess that’s why it came to mind. Perhaps to some people it’s OK, but I being the snob you call me, would unfollow someone for those Tweets.
    If I seem defensive, it’s only because I had to spend all day at the office going through blog replies and other people’s posts about our study. I’m honestly amazed at just how worked up people are. It’s just Twitter. Not everything you tweet is going to be some exciting revelation or work of art. It’s 140 characters. We just wondered what people chose to do with it. Sorry if you’re all so into it that you get offended that we don’t see the personal value in every one of your Tweets.

    1. Peta

      Sarah you really surprise me with your responses, they seem really unprofessional and I’m surprised Pear Analytics have let you out and about to say all this stuff on behalf of them.

      I’m sorry if I’m just reiterating something already said here, but I wanted to make this point before moving on.

      You really don’t seem to know what you’re doing here – you keep going on about how stupid everyone is for taking twitter seriously and you whinge about having to sit though the public timeline and yet you don’t seem to realise what a tweet actually is.

      It may seem like 140 characters of general grap to you, but it’s actually opinion and/or fact. A person’s opinion or fact being stated in a way that they hope will be palatable for their followers.

      By saying this is ‘pointless babble’ you’re basically saying that unless a person owns a business or is famous – their opinions are pointless.

      It also seems like you think that the world should be just waiting to entertain you, well you must not have a lot of friends if that’s the case. Unfortunately the thing with relationships of any kind whether they be a close friend or a follower on twitter – aren’t constantly entertaining. That’s life – live with it.

      I’m sorry that you wasted your time watching a public timeline, but perhaps you should have planned your study better.

  10. Stilgherrian

    Um, Sarah, who started calling people’s communication “pointless babble”, exactly? Why, goodness! It was Pear Analytics! Of course people get “worked up”, as you put it, when you denigrate their day-to-day communication as “pointless”. How can imagine that they wouldn’t be upset?

    Anyway, I’ve written more about this in Crikey today: Twitter “40% pointless babble”? What twaddle! You even get a special mention. ;)

  11. Peter Hollo

    “Wow, you all take your Tweets way too seriously.”

    Now I dunno, I could be way off base here, but could it be that your own ignorant prejudices influenced the way you set this study up?

    “Sorry if you’re all so into it that you get offended that we don’t see the personal value in every one of your Tweets.”

    Yeah I think maybe that’s it. If you took the trouble to understand how Twitter is used (a good start would be to read the comments on this post), you might discover how flawed your study is.

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  13. Sarah

    Ya’ll are welcome to do your own study on the use of Twitter. Of course, you’ll find that people either think it’s crap because they thought it was a much higher percentage of babble, or people will think it’s crap because they’re upset that you think it’s too high. Either way, everybody in the world is going to find a way to pick apart a study.
    If nothing else comes of our research, at least I know that Twitter is really full of self important people who have way too mcuh time on their hands.

  14. Warlach

    “If I seem defensive, it’s only because I had to spend all day at the office going through blog replies and other people’s posts about our study.” I believe you’ll find this is what is known as your job.

    Sarah, we’re not defending Twitter as a high art form or any such thing. We’re merely discussing that the research was conducted incorrectly, you’re the one who keeps firing back with the reaction of a toddler shouting we’re all “poopy heads.”

    Clearly you have taken nothing from the comments regarding how flawed taking content designed for a multitude of users and judging it completely subjectively is. We’re not defending Twitter, we’re just saying your process was crap.

    As for your last two comments:

    If people are going to pick apart your study, as anyone should with any research to insure the results reported are the best they can possibly be, it probably helps if you put some thought into how you conduct it.

    Secondly, I think you’ll find the vast majority of the “self important people” with “way too much time on their hands” who keep talking about this are people whose fields of study, employment or interest are the web, community and social media. What we’re doing are our jobs, Sarah.

    Maybe next time you could do yours?

    P.S. LOVE the fact you haven’t addressed the Philtro connection raised by Stilgherrian. You’re right though, we probably wouldn’t notice…

  15. heather ann snodgrass

    Sarah, if it truly is “just Twitter”, I’m wondering why your company put so much time and resource into commissioning the report in the first place?

    (I’m kind of guessing it had something to do with Philtro, but I *could* be wrong.

    I’m also sorry that you put so much time into this report only to find that we found it to be pointless babble. Isn’t the first rule of market research to actually understand your audience? Had you covered that off, maybe your little whitepaper would have been met with a little less vitriol. Better luck next time.

  16. Stilgherrian

    No, Sarah, you continue to miss the point. It’s not that critics think the percentage of tweets labelled “pointless babble” should be higher or lower. It’s that your methodology of categorisation was deeply, deeply flawed, and we’re calling you out on that.

    In the examples you yourself gave today, the categorisation was arbitrary and based on whether a random reader (you) found value in individual tweets taken completely out of context, rather than whether that person’s followers might have found value in them, given their social context.

    Increasingly it appears that this “study” was nothing more than your personal views about people’s social worth dressed up as a “study”. There’s certainly no sign of any understanding of such things as sociolinguistics, phatic communication, social grooming signals or the dynamics of criticism in social media.

    All that’s happening here today is the normal discussion that takes place when someone presents something as science or, in this case, ill-thought-through lightweight marketing fluff dressed up as science. People are debating the validity of the methodology, and there doesn’t seem to be much.

    All you’ve done in response is insult the individuals and sulk about how it was all such a burden for you to read other people’s posts. Well duddums, girl. If you don’t like the heat, bugger off out of the kitchen.

    Or, alternatively, publish the criteria you used to categorise the tweets — there were criteria other the whatever happened to come into your head at the time, yeah? — and start leading a grown-up discussion about how the methodology can be improved for next time.

  17. Pingback: The Pear Analytics Twitter “babble” | the earley edition

  18. Uberblogged

    It seems this Sarah girl has sync herself with the blogger from Techcrunch (http://www.techcrunch.com/2009/08/17/why-i-dont-use-twitter/) in order to open their mouth and talk crap about Twitter.

    I’ll say a few things. First, your “study” sucks. Oh yeah. You are so biased in the way you transmit the information and conclusions you have arrived to that it makes your “study” look really unprofessional and hate-driven.

    Second, what’s the purpose of your “study”? To tell us that Twitter sucks for you, therefore we should stop using it because its useless? What kind of serious goal or conclusion is that?

    I think that you’re just another jumping on the Twitter bandwagon just to make some noise and “self-promote” whatever crap you are offering with this “study”. In the end, the only one self-promoting is you and your “blabber” on Twitter.

    Just like you dont care what people are doing on Twitter (yet you write a “study” about it, LOL) we dont care what are your conclusions on what we talk on Twitter. This “study” of yours is just as useless for us as the useless tweets are for you.

    Do everyone a big favor and take this “study” out of circulation because it is a shame, its biased and its only making you look like a dork.

  19. Carla Lynne Hall

    No one, and I mean NO ONE, follows the Twitter public timeline, so that’s a pretty useless way of measuring twitter’s usefulness. That’s like going to a cocktail party, and having a listening device in the center of the room. You may hear everything, but you won’t understand what’s going on. You definitely won’t know who’s having a good time, or where the interesting people are in the room. There’s no true perspective when you observe twitter in this fashion.

    Twitter’s elegance is derived from the community and relationships that we build ourselves. I am the one who chooses whether or not I follow someone who enjoys karaoke. In fact, I’ve built a number of offline relationships via folks who have karaoke events during tech conferences as another way of networking. If the people I’m following no longer interest me, I simply unfollow them. I have control over the people I want to follow, and the conversations that I want to engage in.

    I doubt that anyone has the exact same twitterstream (personal timeline). Someone can follow musicians, mommybloggers, skateboard fans, and it would be based on their personal preference. If you want your study to be useful, try observing twitter from an actual user’s perspective, as that’s when twitter gets interesting.

  20. John C Abell

    As a media professional and heavy user of Twitter I’m more amused than annoyed by media professionals who don’t see any particular value to it. Hope that works out for you. Keep in touch.

  21. Rey_Carr

    We’re rooting for Sarah in this debate. If only Pear had used “mindless drivel” instead of “pointless babble.” Then Fox News and CNN could have been included. The category would actually reflect the accurate and much higher percentage. I’m sorry that Pear didn’t parse out the porn/naughty pics tweets. Some people see those as passing along value while others categorize them as self-promotional. But they could be news when new pics are added.

    Pear isn’t the first organization to attempt a classification of tweets. I hope they won’t be the last. The critiques on this blog can help improve the classifying system. Maybe Pear could move on to categorizing the personalities of the different tweeple. I like the term “mindless dribbler,” for example. Let’s come up with a Twitter Personality Inventory that has about a dozen or so categories.

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  26. Mark Pack

    Sarah: Thanks for taking the time to join in this discussion but I’m left really puzzled by your comment, “Many of the posts weren’t even in English”. What’s with the “even”? That – to me at least – suggests there’s something unusual or surprising or odd about many not being in English, but Twitter’s a worldwide tool, so why should that be the case?

  27. Websinthe

    I agree with Stil, Sarah’s missed the point completely, and the promotion of software in all of this is dubious at best.

    Your average stat’s graduate would have blanched at much of your methodology and reporting, and calling this an ‘office study’ that people have latched onto is a trite euphemism for ‘we wanted page hits not academic scrutiny’. Bad luck, if you put numbers on a white paper and give it any sought of promotion you will be analysed, and in this case, found wanting.

    It’s equally depressing that this was picked up by the press as serious and, dare I say it, reliable.

    Here’s a statistic I’ve just come up with from my own office study: 100% of Pear Analytics research is marketing fluff. I used roughly the same criteria, sample percentage capture and scientific rigor.

  28. Stephen Dann Post author

    @Stilgherrian and @Websinthe: Given it was presented as a white paper, and press releases, and was reported wholesale by various media points -it’s a journalististic piece of fluff. The marketer here beat the hell out of it in minutes, and the journalists ran with it.

    Damn journalistic pieces of fluff.

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