I’ve been exploring Twitter archiving tools lately.
I tried Storify. Fail. (too slow).
I tried Twilert. Fail. (never worked).
I tried SearchHash. Success … but no data analysis provided with this tool.
Finally, I tried the Twitter Archive Google Spreadsheet (TAGS) tool (version 5.0). After a week of troubleshooting, glorious and absolutely stunning success with this, as well as with TAGS Explorer and TAGS Viewer!
Martin Hawksey has created this tool, and has provided two well-written blog posts on how to upload and activate this tool. Despite the detail of these posts, I did have some trouble with making the TAGS v5.0 tool work successfully for me. Once I got it working, though, the archiving tool PLUS the suite of publishable and searchable versions of the archive (TAGS Explorer, TAGS Viewer) convinced me these were the winners for archiving!
What follows are some pointers that hopefully help others with using this tool. Now that I’ve overcome the problems I had, I am completely astounded with the power of this tool that Hawksey has provided freely for us technogeeks to use – thank you Martin Hawksey!
So, here’s my step-by-step how-to and trouble-shooting guide to TAGS v5.0:
1. I read the “Twitter Archiving Google Spreadsheet TAGS v5” post;
2. I clicked on the link in that post to download TAGS v5.0;
3. I tried making this work, but had to try “plan B” from the TAGS v5 post which had a second link you could click titled “open this spreadsheet”. I clicked that link, went to the File menu, then Make a Copy and did just that (made a copy of the spreadsheet). This let me make a copy successfully. I then started following this more detailed post of how to capture tweets using TAGS v5.0 for the next steps in this process;
4. I followed the instructions within this spreadsheet on the readme/settings tab:
a) I clicked the button in line 1 of the spreadsheet twice (once to authenticate, second to customize menu);
b) I opened TAGS Twitter API authentication and followed the instructions that popped up.
5. I filled out the box labeled search term in the readme/settings tab;
6. I filled out advanced settings section in the readme/settings tab. Here’s where there was a lot of trial and error on my part, since I couldn’t find much to help me in Hawksey’s blog post about what each of the four choices could do for you. So I ended up choosing:
a) a Period of 2 days (since the chat happened to have occurred one day before I set up the search)
b) “paged” to have my search results on a new page with each search…plus this setting let me test run the archive multiple times (this changed later…keep reading!)
c) follower count filter set to 10 (to filter out bots/spammers)
d) max number tweets set to 4000, since I was searching 2 days of tweets with the #cdnedchat hashtag and guessed we had about half that many to pick up out of the Twitter feed;
7. Within the TAGS menu, I selected “Run Now!” to collect tweets.
Now, this should have worked, but it didn’t. The time frame between 23:59:00 and 00:59:00 (GMT) was just not showing up in the archives, the exact hour during which #cdnedchat tweet chat was occuring.
Troubleshooting involved reading through the comments on Hawksey’s blog post, and finding that someone had a similar problem. What they ended up doing was selecting, from the Tools menu, the Script editor. This opened up a the Script Editor in a tab, and I used the Run menu to run the “collectTweets” function. That solved everything for me.
I dutifully thanked Martin Hawksey on his blog post, and he then replied and alerted me to the existence of TAGS Viewer. This tool lets you search tweets for people, links, and more. The tool creates an uploadable file for users to share publicly (if they so choose).
Hawksey also alerted me to setting my archive search to “continuous” in the readme/settings tab, which would allow TAGS Viewer to be searchable on an ongoing basis.
TAGS Explorer is very visual, searchable, and instantly public. But the advantage of TAGS viewer is that it provides you a clickable calendar to hone your search to a specific date, great for our #cdnedchat Twitter chat that happens every Monday 8pm EST.