Advertisement
How to add spoiler tags, edit posts, add images etc. How to - a user's guide to the new version of Boards
Mods please check the Moderators Group for an important update on Mod tools. If you do not have access to the group, please PM Niamh. Thanks!

Help us improve Search

  • #1
    Administrators, Boards.ie Employee Posts: 5,472 ✭✭✭✭✭ Boards.ie: Mark
    Boards.ie Employee


    Hi everyone,

    One of the issues raised during a recent feedback thread was that people would like to see the Search function improved. Boards.ie's search platform allows us to favour certain results and make them more prominent. I need to point out that adjusting weightings is something relatively straightforward. What we can't do - without it becoming a much bigger project and conversation - is make allowances for typos, adjust suggestions and suggested forums in the Search results, or build an entirely new Search.

    At the moment, post titles, posts with a lot of thanks, and posts that make up the first post in a thread are given priority over other results. We can assign weightings to title, thanks, date (age), replied, views, firstpost or text.

    An explanation of those terms:
    • title - does the searched term appear in the thread title - currently weighted
    • thanks - does the post with the searched term have any thanks - currently weighted
    • date (age) - is the post with the searched term newer than others - currently weighted
    • replied - has the post with the searched term received any replies - not weighted
    • views - has the post with the searched term had more views than other posts - not weighted
    • text - does the post with the searched term contain the exact text searched for - not weighted

    We'd like your insight into how you feel weightings should be applied so that search results are more relevant to what you search for. Which of the list above do you feel are most important to weight and in what order? Thanks!


«13

Comments



  • I personally think the "thanks" one to be the least important on the list, but others might not. In fact I think it would have a negative impact on the "echo chamber" effect people sometimes suspect boards of having. If I want to search for a term like "genetic cloning" I would want to hear from all sides of that issue. If there is a weighting in terms of thanked posts however I will likely be presented first with all the views on "genetic cloning" that agree with mine.

    The only thing about the search that has bothered me in the past is that if I search for a username (lets say my own) it does not find results where people have REPLIED to that username. If you look at the Search Function on "city data forum" which also uses the same software as boards.ie however.... it does.

    So on city data if I search for posts in the last week that mention the username "Nozzferrahhtoo" it will find posts where people mention that, but also posts where people have replied to "nozzferrahhtoo". And I like that. Maybe others here would not :)


  • Boards.ie Employee


    The only thing about the search that has bothered me in the past is that if I search for a username (lets say my own) it does not find results where people have REPLIED to that username. If you look at the Search Function on "city data forum" which also uses the same software as boards.ie however.... it does.

    So on city data if I search for posts in the last week that mention the username "Nozzferrahhtoo" it will find posts where people mention that, but also posts where people have replied to "nozzferrahhtoo". And I like that. Maybe others here would not :)

    The best workaround for the moment for looking for replies is to go to someone's profile, go to the Statistics tab, and select "Find all posts that quote nozzferrahhtoo" . It's not quite as thorough as what you're looking for (it ignores a post where someone says, "nozzferrahhtoo, I think _____"), but that would fall under the needing a bigger project remit.




  • When you search a thread for a term, and you don't get the results you were looking for, the search term in the search box is wrong, and if you edit it, it won't search the thread like you expect, but search the whole site. When searching a thread, can the resulting page have the code that includes the code for just that thread in the search box, so successive searches (refinement) are easier.




  • I think weighting the "thanks" is not useful.
    What is more useful is allowing people to choose which sections to search in. It doesn't have to be as complicated as "Title:Help us improve Search" but even checkboxes at the top of the results page for "Title", "Text" or "Both"

    Also, I think it would be hugely useful if there was some fuzzy matching to allow for misspellings. I'm not sure what technologies you are using for searching but with some of the more popular ones it's quite easy to introduce, you just have to manage the weighting.




  • Every search I have ever done on boards I have always re-sorted into "most recent" as that tends to have the most relevant information, the top default results have never been useful. Searching for something on boards.ie via google tends to provide more personally accurate results. Could you use embedded google search as boards search, that would also tend to correct for spelling errors.


  • Advertisement


  • To me most recent is a nice to have but ad already mentioned we can reorder if required anyway. I do find it odd though that often posts from 5-10 years ago come out on top.

    Personally though the most important thing I would like to search is exact text. I don't like it when it throws up variations of words I'm not looking for

    I've also found it seems to prioritise the first two words ahead of others and I have adjusted my searches accordingly. However it does not seem to do very well at matching complete phrases




  • Most replies has to be included as a criteria, for the obvious reason.

    Thanks is utterly pointless, the most facile post in AH can get 100 of them and yet the topic is probably something like Favourite Hitler Cats On Instagram. Hardly useful.

    What's the shortest character count allowed?




  • This is primarily a discussion forum. It's not a historical database where old posts should receive the same weighting as new ones.

    If people search then the first results should almost never be posts from years ago.

    New members are told to search for similar threads before starting a new one. But if they do that they almost always get an old post returned at the top of search results. If they reply to that the thread will usually be immediately locked.

    Weight search in favour of "new" posts, "new" being whatever is determined as being of an acceptable age to reply to without having the thread locked.




  • Given the ridiculously irritating navigation system, particularly on mobile, I tend to get to the forums I frequent (EG, Politics General) by typing the forum name into the search bar. It would be great if the "suggested forums" section at the top of the results page listed all forums containing that word - both on desktop and mobile.




  • usually the only searches i do are for my own posts and people that quote me in order to reply to anyone who has referenced one of my posts.

    It would be nice to have a facebook style notification system when someone quotes you.

    Rarely do i search the page for a specific topic. Occasionally ill be trying to find an old thread that might have some information .


  • Advertisement
  • Boards.ie Employee


    While historical posts can certainly be interesting, they are less likely to be relevant (Google also likes pushing classic threads towards the top of its results but that's the wonders of SEO!)

    Most replies has to be included as a criteria, for the obvious reason.

    Thanks is utterly pointless, the most facile post in AH can get 100 of them and yet the topic is probably something like Favourite Hitler Cats On Instagram. Hardly useful.

    What's the shortest character count allowed?

    The shortest character count for a Search? You can enter a single character. An interesting hack is to go into a thread or forum and search for *. Then select Most Thanked in the dropdown that offers sorting and you get to see the most thanked post in a thread / forum.
    Given the ridiculously irritating navigation system, particularly on mobile, I tend to get to the forums I frequent (EG, Politics General) by typing the forum name into the search bar. It would be great if the "suggested forums" section at the top of the results page listed all forums containing that word - both on desktop and mobile.

    Unfortunately, we're constricted in changing the suggested forums at the moment. I can see if extending the number of forums displayed can be done, but at the moment working on the assumption that weighting is all we can look at.

    For forums you go to frequently, I'd advise following the forum and at least then you can access them from the My Forums tab. It's not perfect, as it does require them having a new post in among all the others that you follow to browse to conveniently, but it's handy for the busier forums in particular.




  • Thanks is utterly pointless, ... Hardly useful.
    An interesting hack is to go into a thread or forum and search for *. Then select Most Thanked in the dropdown that offers sorting and you get to see the most thanked post in a thread / forum.

    Priceless.

    Mark, do you read posts you are replying to? :D


  • Boards.ie Employee


    sKeith wrote: »
    Priceless.

    Mark, do you read posts you are replying to? :D

    It's not raining that heavily...


    :D

    Took that to mean that in general searching thanks aren't useful - i.e. you search for something Soccer related and get Favourite Hitler Cats On Instagram. But if you're in YLYL, for example, it might be better to get the best ofs rather than scrolling through images that people didn't find funny.




  • As an occasional user of the search facility, I concur with the previous posters who have highlighted the (slight) frustration of being first presented with posts from 5 to 10 years ago, and the utter irrelevance of "thanks".

    As for "fuzzy" searching, if it returns as many completely inappropriate "best matches" as Amazon, then I would probably never use the boards.ie search function again, and try using a Google site-specific filter instead.

    My searches tend to be either (a) looking for a specific post that I know was made in the (recent) past, but now can't find; or (b) checking to see whether a particular problem or query has been raised before. In both cases, once I've re-ordered the results by "newest first" the current set of filters usually gets me close enough to be able to find what I'm looking for, so a bit of minor tweaking would be fine for me.




  • I really, really, really hate the new format.

    I have to go through three or four clicks to get to my usual threads. Was the change made to increase the number of clicks boards.ie receives?




  • Like many posters, I do not think a weighting to should be applied to "Thanks". In view, that only brings the occasional dross to the top.

    I was not aware that search was confined to "title" only. That is interesting, but also something I disagree with. Thread "text" should also be searched.

    Age doesn't hugely matter, as the search results can be re-ordered by age. In fact, this is something that I always do currently, as the "most relevant" results returned are rarely relevant at all :)

    So in summary

    title - weight
    thanks - do not weight
    date (age) - do not weight
    replied - no opinion
    views - do not weight (a good post with the right information might just not have many views, doesn't change it's relevance)
    text - weight




  • I won't profess to know the workings of how the search function works, but to illustrate its utter uselessness, here's an example.

    So, with the new Star Wars film "Solo" in mind, which has an active and busy thread in the Film forum, I typed the word Solo into the search box, and hit enter. Here's what came back, in the order it came back:

    1) Solo - Playing & Techniques & Theory - 11 years and 10 months ago.
    2) Solo - Rock & Metal - 14 years and 8 months go.
    3) Solo's - Rock & Metal - 14 years and 11 months ago.
    4) Solo Guitarist - Musicians Available or Wanted - 3 weeks and two days ago.
    5) Vu Solo - Foreign Satellite - 1 year ago.
    6) Solo Foxing - Hunting - 1 year and 1 month ago.
    7) Solo Golf in Algarve - Golf - 2 weeks ago.
    8) Moving Solo - Canada - 2 years and 1 month ago.
    9) Solo Radiators - Plumbing and Heating - 2 years and 4 months ago.
    10) Flying Solo - Independent & Youth Travel - 2 years and 6 months ago.
    11) Solo Concert - Hip-Hop - 2 years and 7 months ago.
    12) Solo Backpacking - Independent & Youth Travel - 2 years and 7 months ago.
    13) Solo Radiator - Plumbing & Heating - 2 years and 10 months ago.
    14) India Solo - Independent & Youth Travel - 3 years ago.
    15) Cycling Solo - Cycling - 3 years and 9 months ago.

    Without trying to be unkind, it's a horrible, horrible search system, and utterly ineffective almost every time I use it (I don't really anymore at all). It works well for finding forums that I'm not subbed to, but fails in every other department. Yes, I could change the results to display the newest first, and HOPE then that it'll pick up what I'm looking for, but tbh, at that stage I'm pissed off enough with the function that I no longer wish to use it.

    Conversely, if I type Solo into Google, the entire first page comes up with results pertaining to the film.




  • This below search function has been absolutely invaluable, efficient, and effective, especially when time is of essence for voluntary mods & Cmods:

    Legacy > View Public Profile > Statistics > Find all posts by Boards.ie: Mark (old search)




  • dudara wrote: »
    Like many posters, I do not think a weighting to should be applied to "Thanks". In view, that only brings the occasional dross to the top.

    I was not aware that search was confined to "title" only. That is interesting, but also something I disagree with. Thread "text" should also be searched.

    Age doesn't hugely matter, as the search results can be re-ordered by age. In fact, this is something that I always do currently, as the "most relevant" results returned are rarely relevant at all :)

    So in summary

    title - weight
    thanks - do not weight
    date (age) - do not weight
    replied - no opinion
    views - do not weight (a good post with the right information might just not have many views, doesn't change it's relevance)
    text - weight

    Same as above.
    Not interested in thanks, but interested in the search function finding my exact text, inside threads as well as in the title.

    For example I recently searched for "methotrexate".
    The results are somewhat limited since methotrexate is often mentioned within threads such as the Psoriasis thread, as opposed to having a thread dedicated to it.

    There are probably other chronic/immune illnesses threads where it's mentioned, but they don't really pop up for me with the current search function.

    I sort the results by age after I've done the initial search if it's important, so the "new" function is important but really not paramount.

    "views" is not important to me either. When you are looking for something really specific, it really doesn't matter whether the post was popular or not, you're just looking for content.




  • Can you beat Google search?

    If not, why spend time working on this - just embed Google search and get on with other improvements.


  • Advertisement


  • Inviere wrote: »
    I won't profess to know the workings of how the search function works, but to illustrate its utter uselessness, here's an example.
    I did a search of "Manchester United Chelsea"
    Top two were over 10 years old. Next was 4 years and then one 9 months

    The one after that was Manchester United vs Everton 6 years ago

    If I put it newest first the first one I get in the Soccer Forum is from the United superthread, which is fair enough. Next it's from tonight's match thread involving United and Spurs. There are over 50,000 "results"

    If I change it to "Manchester United Tottenham", there are over 29,000 hits. Tonight's match thread has 25 posts already but only one of them crops up in the search




  • ....:confused: How are (some of) you managing to not search the message text as well? Using the (legacy site) search bar in the page header, I get all instances of the search term, regardless of whether they're in the title or the text. This can result in an overwhelming return, and some surprising usage :eek: but is exactly what I want most of the time.




  • As Inviere said, search is terrible for finding threads in Films. Unless you know the thread is there somewhere you'll probably give up before you find it. Try searching for "Blade Runner" for example. The currently active thread for BR 2049 is second last on the first page of results and there's nothing to indicate that it is the most recent thread. Most of the results above it are 10-17 years old!!

    Recently active threads should be weighed higher and there should be a "last post by user 2 days ago" etc under them so you know that's the most current thread.

    Search might never be as good as Google for finding key words in posts but it can at least be made useful for quickly finding recent threads on a topic.




  • Finding relevant posts is very difficult in the current search, and I'm sure that a mix of all the variables above.

    I'd agree with weighting newer results much more heavily, because people often seem to search and reply without realising they've just resucitated a necrothread.
    Also echo comments about thanks, that can happily slide down the list of priorities. I like the thanks system but it doesn't need to feed egos. I've more thanks on posts that were smart quips than ones which were genuinely useful to anyone.

    Also found a mildly annoying discrepancy in search systems depending on what you looked for.

    For example, seaching all my posts uses the far superior newer page: https://www.boards.ie/search/submit/?user=49332&sort=newest
    Searching for posts I thanked though: https://www.boards.ie/vbulletin/search.php?searchid=29169000#




  • Beasty wrote: »
    If I put it newest first the first...

    Without trying to sound lazy or cynical, that's more effort of moving a mouse, more clicking, which most would consider unnecessary. What should be typing a word & hitting enter, turns into typing a word, hitting enter, navigating to the refining box, clicking it to open it, changing it from best match to newest first, and waiting on the results to reorganise themselves. It's just more effort than most will bother with.

    Having 14 year old results come up first is not only annoying, it's bizarrely inefficient when considering this is a search we're running. Results should absolutely be weighted based on their time relevance. I've only learned here now also that results do not include text within posts, imo that's a massive mistake. As mentioned, results weighted on thread title, post content, AND period would make the most sense.




  • Inviere wrote: »
    Without trying to sound lazy or cynical, that's more effort of moving a mouse, more clicking, which most would consider unnecessary. What should be typing a word & hitting enter, turns into typing a word, hitting enter, navigating to the refining box, clicking it to open it, changing it from best match to newest first, and waiting on the results to reorganise themselves. It's just more effort than most will bother with.

    Having 14 year old results come up first is not only annoying, it's bizarrely inefficient when considering this is a search we're running. Results should absolutely be weighted based on their time relevance. I've only learned here now also that results do not include text within posts, imo that's a massive mistake. As mentioned, results weighted on thread title, post content, AND period would make the most sense.

    Actually after CelticRambler's post I double checked and noticed that I do indeed get results with text-match within posts, but they come along after the "match thread title" posts, so if like me you often use a device with a small screen like a Kindle or a phone, chances are these results are well down or on another page, and so as in my case, they're easy to overlook.

    Like you said when it's too much effort we tend to give up.
    I don't really want to have to work too hard to find something, it has to be fast and easy.




  • Inviere wrote: »
    I've only learned here now also that results do not include text within posts, imo that's a massive mistake.

    Once again, I don't know what you guys are doing, but text very definitely does show up. Out of interest, I ran Sad Professor's query for "Blade Runner" (and "Blade Runner 2049") earlier this evening and all but one of the results were text-within-post results. The one that wasn't was the (one and only!) thread with "Blade Runner 2049" as the title. As SP reported, that particular thread came in at second from the end of the first page ... but all of the others were more recent posts - all from this evening in the "best film" thread.




  • Once again, I don't know what you guys are doing, but text very definitely does show up. Out of interest, I ran Sad Professor's query for "Blade Runner" (and "Blade Runner 2049") earlier this evening and all but one of the results were text-within-post results. The one that wasn't was the (one and only!) thread with "Blade Runner 2049" as the title. As SP reported, that particular thread came in at second from the end of the first page ... but all of the others were more recent posts - all from this evening in the "best film" thread.

    Maybe it depends on what version of boards you're using ?




  • That's certainly a possibility. I gave up trying to use boards.ie on a phone altogether, and only use the legacy version of the desktop site.


  • Advertisement


  • Add googles search box to the site OR when you click search have it bring you to google with the search boards.ie bit prefilled.


Advertisement