Website skims tweets about Gulf oil spill

May 27, 2010

A website just released by Purdue University shows the most popular Twitter comments and Web links about the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. The site is available at (Purdue University image)

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WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. - A website that ranks the most popular Twitter messages relating to the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico has been released by Purdue University.

The site, at, also gives news junkies, journalists, bloggers and Twitter users a convenient way to sort through the online Twitter conversation to see the most re-tweeted messages, which resources are being shared the most, up-to-the minute photos and the people posting the most messages.

The site displays the most recent messages using the #oilspill hashtag (hashtags are used in Twitter messages to indicate they are on a particular topic).

Users do not need a Twitter account to follow the conversation. Twitter users can login to their account directly from the site as well.

Kyle Bowen, director of informatics at Purdue, said the site uses Purdue-developed technology called "Need4Feed."

"The technology sorts through the data provided by Twitter using a proprietary algorithm to determine which messages are the most popular," Bowen said. "The technology is related to Purdue's HotSeat application, which we use in classrooms to capture student messages about course topics."

Need4Feed lists all of the messages using a specific hashtag in one window, and a second window ranks Tweets using that hashtag in several different ways, including:

* the most popular tweets

* the most re-tweeted messages

* the most active conversations

* the most popular hyperlinks included in tweets

* the most popular secondary hashtags

* the individuals who have posted the most messages

* images sent with the hashtag

Writer: Steve Tally, 765-494-9809,

Source: Kyle Bowen, 765-496-7486,