Backtype.com is a real-time conversational search engine that helps users find, follow and participate in conversations from blogs, social networks and other social media. The site does this by indexing comments from Wordpress, Blogger, TypePad, Twitter, FriendFeed, Facebook and other social networking platforms. Typing a search string into the search bar on the home page brings back a list of conversations currently taking place about the search string. The conversations are in the form of comments left on posts at the sites mentioned above. Each result shows a brief summary of the original post that started the converstation, and a list of summaries of the comments that have been left about the post.
The right-hand pane of the search results page shows a section called “More chatter”, which continues to update in real-time with individual comments left about the search string. Search results contain multiple pages in order of newest to oldest comments. Users can register for the Backtype site and use the site for their own comments. Registered users can edit their Profile on the site, claim their comments from the major social networking sites (thus placing their comments in the Backtype index), and maintain a list of recommendations of people to follow.
Registered users are given their own comments page at the site in the form of “backtype.com/username”. Registered users can also set up email alerts – the site will send the user an email whenever someone enters a comment containing the search term in the alert. Users can also use the Connect feature to find conversations on a particular post – the user types the URL of the post or update into the Connect searchbar and the site returns all of the comments on that post that the site has indexed. This allows users to follow conversations across multiple social networking sites.Show more screenshots »
Backtype.com was launched in August 2008 by co-founders Christopher Golda and Michael Montano. In March 2011, Backtype raised $1 million in funding from True Ventures, K9 Ventures, Freestyle Capital, Lowercase Capital, 500 Startups, and more. In July same year, Backtype was acquired by Twitter.
Competition to Backtype comes from sites such as uberVu. The uberVu site provides a similar service, but in addition gives metrics on the number of comments left concerning the search term during the last month. The metrics are given in graphical form with a breakdown showing which social networking sites the comments came from. Other than the addition of metrics, the uberVu search results are very similar to Backtype. Users at uberVu can also set up email alerts for search terms. Backtype returns results in a matter of a few seconds – searches on uberVu take 10+ seconds to return results.
The Backtype.com site has a very uncluttered look and feel. There is a convenient search bar shown on all pages of the site, and registered users have a dashboard where they can access their profile, their account settings, claim their comments and maintain their list of recommendations of people to follow. The site is quite responsive and search results are returned within a few seconds. There is no advertising displayed on the Backtype.com site.
Registration at Backtype.com is free and is not required to use the service. It is required to maintain a profile, claim comments and have a home page on the Backtype.com site. The registration process asks for username, password and email address.
There is no premium membership offered to the Backtype.com site.
Backtype.com is recommended to anyone who has a need to see what people are discussing on the web about a particular subject. The site provides some of the most up-to-date information about a subject available, and presents it in an easy to use format. In addition, the ability to use the site for comments and to setup email alerts is very convenient.