FriendFeed Search: Filtering for Popularity and Relevance

A few days ago, I shared my tips for getting the most out of Twitter search by using some less well-known advanced search operators. FriendFeed also has powerful, advanced search features that you may not know about, especially since some of the more interesting search operators are not well-documented. Like Twitter, FriendFeed has all of the common search operators, but the real power is in some of the advanced filtering options  and the ability to find only the most popular posts. Now that FriendFeed has real-time search, these advanced searches are even more interesting.

FriendFeed Search

Standard Operators

FriendFeed’s search uses the AND operator by default, but its implementation of the OR operator can be a little confusing. You can use the standard OR operator between keywords to state that one or other (or both) of the keywords must be present, but if you want to use OR with the advanced operators, you need to use a “,” (example: meetup OR tweetup service:delicious,upcoming). You can also search for phrases using quotes and exclude results using the “-” operator.


It is important to note that you can search across all of FriendFeed (the default) or limit the search to results only from your friends. For example, here’s a search for monitoring across all of FriendFeed, and the same search with results from my friends:

  • monitoring
  • monitoring friends:geekygirldawn

I keep several friend lists. I have a list for the people who are involved in community management and another list of people who have a knack for knowing about new technologies before most people. Those are my two favorite friend lists to search. You can get to this option using the advanced search page or with the following syntax to search for the word “monitoring” in my “community” friend list.

  • monitoring list:community

There are also a few other useful subset searches to narrow your search to posts from a particular friend or a group:

  • facebook from:gigaom
  • panel group:sxsw


Filtering a FriendFeed search by service can be really useful. For example, I often filter the Twitter posts out of my searches to cut down on the noise in my search.

As I mentioned in my previous post about Twitter search, Twitter search only returns results from the last 10 days or so. You can  actually use FriendFeed to search a little further back into the Twitter timeline, at least for those Twitter posts that have also been sent to FriendFeed, by limiting your search just to the Twitter service. I’m not sure exactly how far back in time FriendFeed searches, since it seems to vary by service; however, I am seeing search results from Twitter that are around 40 days old and results from blogs that are much older.

Here are a few examples of searching for “monitoring conversations.” The first example excludes posts from Twitter from the results, while the second just includes results from Delicious and Google Reader (s goog):

  • “monitoring conversations” -service:twitter
  • “monitoring conversations” service:delicious,googlereader


As usual, I have saved the best for last. Searching based on popularity measures is what makes the FriendFeed search so powerful. The volume of posts on FriendFeed is so high that it can be difficult to find the most interesting posts on a topic. Filtering your results by the number of likes and comments particular posts have received is a great way to find the posts that are most interesting to people. Here are some simple examples:

  • monitoring comments:20
  • “community management” likes:10

Where this becomes really powerful is when you use it in combination with some of the search operators mentioned in the sections above.

  • facebook comments:5 likes:5 list:news-makers
  • facebook research comments:20 likes:20 -service:twitter
  • comments:20 likes:20 from:jowyang -service:twitter

Consuming Search

The fun doesn’t stop with the advanced searches. You can also consume FriendFeed searches in so many different ways.

  • RSS: Get your search as an RSS feed and put it in your favorite reader.
  • Saved searches: Save your searches to reuse them over and over.
  • Share: You can share your search with other people.
  • Embed: Embed your search to display the results on other sites.

In this post I covered most of the advanced search operators for FriendFeed, but for the full list, visit the advanced search page.

What are your favorite uses for FriendFeed search?