Why are some tweets more popular than others?
When a Twitter staff member set out to answer that question 10 months ago, he thought the answer would emerge among posts from N.B.A. players, politicians or actors. Instead, he found a mystery: a set of messages that were ricocheting around Twitter, being forwarded and responded to at a rate that was off the charts.
“They were punching way above their weight,” said Robin Sloan, who discovered the anomaly but did not recognize the names behind the tweets.