Did the Twitter search programmers deserve to be fired?

Elon Musk fired a lot of people from Twitter today (CNN). But the advertisers are leaving even faster, now that there is the potential for users to utter misinformation, e.g., that COVID-19 “vaccines” don’t prevent infection and transmission.

Appeasement doesn’t work, apparently. Government-funded General Motors and Pfizer, for example, will no longer advertise on a platform that allows people to say things that are contrary to what the Biden administration wants residents of the U.S. to hear.

Let’s look at the overall quality of the product that the pre-rightsizing crew developed. Suppose that we are searching to see if Kanye West has been unpersoned. A search for “kanye west” does not yield Kanye West’s profile:

How about “@kanyewest” as a search string?

What if we type “kanye west twitter profile” into the Google?

There is an account and it exactly matches one of our search strings (“@kanyewest”), but Twitter couldn’t find it! Maybe this is because Google hired everyone competent? Bing also shows the @kanyewest account as the number 1 result. So does Duck Duck Go.

How soon do we think we can start seeing the kind of big improvements in Twitter that a good product manager could drive, e.g., “If you type ‘Kanye West’ it has to return Kanye West’s account as the first result.”

How did Elon Musk and team zero in on the low-productivity workers? You’d think it would take a few months for new management to figure out which programmers on the search team were the good ones.

Also, when do we get a high-quality remake of the following:

Elon Musk can play himself.

Some lines:

  • Put that kombucha down! Kombucha’s for accepted check-ins only.
  • The good news is you’re fired. The bad news is that all you’ve got is just one week to regain your jobs. Starting with tonight’s git. .. First prize: a Tesla S. Second prize: a set of pronouns. Third prize is you’re fired.
  • f*ckin’ f*ggots -> f*ckin MAGAs
  • ABC = Always Be Censoring
  • I made $970,000 last year -> I lost more than $100 billion this year.

Update, November 5:

17 thoughts on “Did the Twitter search programmers deserve to be fired?

  1. Kanye has been unpersoned. Allowing someone to find him in search would be a bug in Twitter.

  2. Elon Musk and the platform he owns are now officially Enemies of the State, because the State is no longer 110% sure that the platform is On Their Team. That was a contentious issue for Zuckerberg/Facebook for a while, if you recall. However, Zuck made something like 90 trips to the White House over the years, and only really had to incur the tongue-lashing of Maxine Waters on the Hill. They might have sought to keep Facebook inside the guiderails – and had to remind Zuckerberg Who Was Boss on a couple of occasions when Cambridge Analytica used some of their data in a way that supported the Evil Orange Man and his Army of Fascists – but Musk has done something *infinitely* more dangerous.

    He has fucked with the State’s prerogative to Control the Narrative. They’ve got a little fear that he’s too much of a wild card to be completely controlled. Therefore he will have to be eliminated.

    “Biden says Twitter spews lies across the world”


    “Biden said at a fundraiser: “And now what are we all worried about: Elon Musk goes out and buys an outfit that sends – that spews lies all across the world… There’s no editors anymore in America. There’s no editors. How do we expect kids to be able to understand what is at stake?”

    All the rest of your questions are interesting – I think it’s terrible to fire someone for no cause at all – but they’re nothing in comparison to the larger issues here. I’ll guarantee that Beschsloss has called Biden personally and said: “If you don’t STOP Elon Musk he will build the Twitterreich.”

    “Historian Beschloss Hysterically Warns: ‘If Republicans Win, Our Children Will Be Arrested and Conceivably Killed’


    • Just as an aside/addendum: I expect the international (and particularly European) pressure to begin very soon, and particularly if Donald Trump starts Tweeting again (which may be why he has apparently decided not to do it and add to the Muskrat’s problems.) Ursula von der Leyen has ways to make people comply. Not that I’m a big fan of Rammstein, but von der Leyen is big on State censorship of things she doesn’t like to see or hear:

      “Von der Leyen was in charge of the request to ban and rate the Rammstein album Liebe ist für alle da by the Federal Review Board for Media Harmful to Minors.[195]”


      “The album was added to the ‘index’ of the Federal Department for Media Harmful to Young Persons in Germany, due to the track “Ich tu dir weh” and a picture inside the album booklet displaying Richard Kruspe spanking a nude woman.[21]”

    • One more: Musk currently holds a Secret or Top Secret security clearance because of SpaceX. That can be taken away. I think at that point Biden could send the FBI to raid Elon Musk’s private residences in search of information that he is no longer authorized to have. Call me crazy.

    • disevad: No, Musk is well connected to DARPA, got Tesla subsidies, etc.

      DARPA was the first main customer for SpaceX. Starlink was a prototype for the military version that is going to be launched. Starlink has the function of providing Internet to crisis zones without the U.S. being officially involved.

      I think the opposite is the case: Some career bureaucrats in the state watched the events since 2020 (BLM was the height of craziness and cancellations) with unease and support the Twitter takeover as a corrective.

  3. It’s not just Twitter. The search function in Amazon is much too close to random (“you had one job”): I suppose, partly because the whole of China is gaming it, and partly because no accurate SQL-type query interface is exposed.

  4. > How did Elon Musk and team zero in on the low-productivity workers?

    This struck me as odd, too. Either Twitter literally had 2 managers with fancy titles per programmer or 50% of the programmers were clearly and obviously just social justice warriors.

    In both cases it would be possible to weed them out quickly.

    Otherwise, as you say, it would take months. There is a rumor that Musk used LOC as a productivity measure, which (if true) is obviously silly.

  5. For how to choose whom to fire – it does seem a big part of it was firing entire teams that are developing products that Twitter will no longer be pursuing. For instance, the entire “Human Rights” team was fired. They were focused on protecting people in Ethiopia: https://mobile.twitter.com/ShannonRSingh/status/1588591603622772736

    I’m guessing that he didn’t bother to filter out and keep the good engineers on the useless teams except perhaps for the most obviously exceptional. The rumor from a few weeks ago was that he will downsize by 75%. So this might be the coarse easy pass of remove people doing useless work, and then there might still be another 50% of what is left removed, and those will be the underperformers on useful things. who will take time to identify. Or it might just be the attrition of people who leave over ideological differences and remote workers who refuse to move back to SF. I have no idea and am guessing the same as everyone else.

  6. I remain utterly baffled by the appeal of Twitter. It makes me kind of sad to think that Musk could, in a way, come in and fix a whole host of content issues, but he can’t fix the core problem, that it is a weekend programming project that accidentally got popular.

    Whatever is keeping it popular can indeed go away just as arbitrarily. The fact that journalists like to pad out stories with Twitter posts is a dumb, lazy habit that could go away immediately. (As one example.)

  7. How did Elon Musk and team zero in on the low-productivity workers? You’d think it would take a few months for new management to figure out which programmers on the search team were the good ones.

    Somewhat ironically, I think the best way to evaluate Twitter workers would be to scrutinize their Twitter feeds. SJW? Gone. Friend/follower/liker of SJWs? On probation. The employees have put a veritable mine of data out there. What to do with a ‘mine of data’…

  8. I read that the evaluations were on the basis of lines of code (LOC) in the last 90 days.

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