May 17, 2022

OCLC Concludes Twitter/#Ask4Stuff Search Experiment Saying It Was "Interesting But Not Sticky Enough"

On the OCLC Digital Cooperative Blog Mike Teets writes that the OCLC Innovation Lab experiment that began in June, 2010 allowing users to search WorldCat directly from Twitter has ended. Users created their query and also included the #Ask4Stuff hashtag in their tweet.

#Ask4Stuff will no longer be available beginning tomorrow (April 1, 2010).

From the Blog Post:

The experiment was a success… in that we learned about many things, including:

  • Creating this new type of social search has a measurable positive impact on search engine ranking
  • Getting library services to work and play nicely with mainstream consumer applications can be done
  • The switch to Twitter’s OAUTH authentication from their basic authentication was painful and time consuming
  • The usage of a social media service linked to library materials needs more thought
  • Users outside the library community participated in the experiment with as much vigor as those inside our community
  • Some natural language processing mapped through classification systems such as Dewey produce improved results

What we also learned, though, was that while people found the Ask4Stuff service very interesting, in the long run it wasn’t deemed to be sufficient as a standalone service. It wasn’t “sticky” in consumer terms. In the days immediately following the announcement of the service, we saw 200-300 tweet-requests per day, excluding the hundreds of tweets about the service. That leveled off, and for the next month we saw below one hundred requests per day. The average user only used the service one time. The highest usage for a single user was 17 tweets. Recently? Well, let’s just say that we have dropped well below a “per day” measurement. All in all, there were around 1500 tweet-requests from just under 500 Twitter-ers. More than a fourth of the users that tried the service also followed the Ask4Stuff twitter account. Again, an interesting service but not sticky enough to sustain usage.

Read the Complete Blog Post

About Gary Price

Gary Price ( is a librarian, writer, consultant, and frequent conference speaker based in the Washington D.C. metro area. Before launching INFOdocket, Price and Shirl Kennedy were the founders and senior editors at ResourceShelf and DocuTicker for 10 years. From 2006-2009 he was Director of Online Information Services at, and is currently a contributing editor at Search Engine Land.