How to increase the chances of getting your tweet on #qanda


    Last month at Twitter’s Hello World developer event, they showcased local examples of business leveraging their greatest strength, live event interaction. One of those businesses was the ABC’s Q&A program who were early to adopt Twitter as a compliment to their popular show on Monday nights.

    Behind the scenes, integrating Twitter into the program was a battle and the way it was approved was by proposing a multi-tier system that meant 2 news directors approve. Being a show that discusses the issues of the day and involves politics, everyone want their say and with that comes a flood of tweets that creates the very nice problem of deciding what to display.

    The brains behind Twitter’s integration in #qanda is developer Leslie Nassar. Nassar explained that they have one of the fastest (if not the fastest) Tweet-to-screen times on the planet. Given how rapidly the show switches from one topic or question to the next, displaying tweets needed to happen fast to be relevant. That timeframe is as little as 5 seconds from the time you hit post, to the time you see it on screen.

    The system required an integration between Twitter and the on-screen graphics package, which as you can imagine was incredibly difficult because of its age. Its the sign of a great developer who can get through these barriers and to ship the very public product.

    The first tier of the platform is 2-level automated algorithm to filter out tweets that had unacceptable content. At this stage its firstly about being practical, then its about content acceptability.

    Tweets that contain the following are immediately eliminated.

    • Tweets with links
    • Tweets with media
    • Retweets
    • Tweets with offensive language

    Now we understand these filters, you can craft your tweets and increase your chances of getting them on-screen during an episode of Q&A. Then your task is to get past the next layer of the system and that’s the human layer. Nassar built a platform that sat the 2 news directors in front of the filtered Twitter stream and based on the pithy, on topic and relevant nature of each post, they decide which to approve to go live to the screen.

    Finding technical solutions on a budget doesn’t always lead to glamorous solutions at the ABC. During the speech we discovered the big displays behind the guests which displays the trending terms, updating frequently, are run from an iPod strapped to the back wall, and outputs to the screen via HDMI.

    Jason Cartwright
    Jason Cartwright
    Creator of techAU, Jason has spent the dozen+ years covering technology in Australia and around the world. Bringing a background in multimedia and passion for technology to the job, Cartwright delivers detailed product reviews, event coverage and industry news on a daily basis. Disclaimer: Tesla Shareholder from 20/01/2021

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