Forum search feature seems to be broken

Discussion in 'Community Information and Feedback' started by rkv, Apr 23, 2017.

  1. rkv

    rkv Member

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    I believe the forum search capability is broken. Given that a popular response to posts is to "use search", repairing this should be a priority.

    I noticed this when I was trying to do a search limiting the search to "Search titles only" and it was displaying results where the search term was not contained in the results. I suspect this might also be a configuration problem, in that searches for three letter acronyms such as "ALO", "CFA", "UPT", differ from word searches such as "training". Searching for a word such as "training" provides some results, although I don't believe they are correct. Particularly, when one limits to titles only.

    I suspect that the index needs to be rebuilt and there may also be configuration issues where three letter searches, such as all of those popular acronyms and abbreviations, are being ignored.

    In line below are some screen captures of what I am seeing. Note, that it does seem to be finding the "Matched users" when searching. The main issue seems to be with searching forum content.

    The first image is of the result when I was searching for "CFA" in the titles. Then my configuration of a search for "ALO" in the titles, and the result from the search for "ALO" in the titles.

    Note, the "Matched users" results seems to be the only thing which is working. I've tried this both on desktop and mobile browsers, Safari and Chrome.

    Here's the result of searching for "CFA" in the titles:

    search_cfa.jpeg

    Here I'm configuring the "ALO" search:

    search_alo1.jpeg

    Here's the result of the "ALO" search:

    search_alo2.jpeg
     
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  2. TacticalNuke

    TacticalNuke Administrator

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    Good Morning,

    Thank you for bringing this to our attention. The reason the search system doesn't show results for 3-letter searches is that MySQL by default only indexes 4 letters or more. Our forum was allowing searches for 2- and 3-letter words but no results were returned because those lengths aren't indexed. I've made changes so that the forum search will give an error for a query less than 4 characters.

    To search for shorter acronyms, wildcards can be used. For instance, to search for CFA, one can use *CFA, CFA*, or *CFA*. Given that the search function is an important part of the user experience, we will look at what additional options are available to improve it. Please let me know if you are encountering any other search issues not related 2- and 3-letter acronyms.

    Thanks again!

    -TN
     
  3. Capt MJ

    Capt MJ 10-Year Member

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    TN - thanks for this, as I fully admit I send people down the Search trail regularly.

    I haven't looked for it, lazy moment, but is there a Sticky in Community Information that would provide How To and examples?

    I can think of CVW, CFA and other common topics.
     
  4. time2

    time2 10-Year Member

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    Might be helpful if the search area contained a note about the 2-3 letter thing. We often encourage people to use the search to avoid answering the same common questions multiple times.
     
  5. rkv

    rkv Member

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    TN - Not meaning to beat a deal horse here but there still appears to be a problem. I tried your suggestion of a wildcarding CFA and have mixed results. Specifically, for "*CFA* in the titles results in a list where CFA is not in the titles. Searching for "CFA*" has no results. However, if you search for "Did I pass the CFA", again limiting the search to titles in the USAFA sub-forum you get a list with a number of results containing CFA which should have been displayed in response to the wildcard queries.

    As to the MySQL setting, my understanding is that the minimum search word length is a configuration option. Given the abundant use of three letter acronyms and abbreviations in these forums, my vote (not that I have one) would be to lower the MySQL setting and rebuild indices.

    In any event, I'm suspecting that some systems housekeeping hasn't as yet been performed, I'll check on this next week to see if all is working.

    The images below relate to my "*CFA*" query followed by "CFA*":

    search_CFA_wildcard.jpeg

    Here's the result from searching "*CFA*" with "Search titles only" selected in the Air Force Academy forum:

    search_CFA_wildcard_result.jpeg


    Here's the query for "CFA*":

    search_CFA2_wildcard.jpeg


    And the result for "CFA*" which surprisingly claims there is nothing matching that search:

    search_CFA2_wildcard_result.jpeg
     
  6. TacticalNuke

    TacticalNuke Administrator

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    Thank you everyone for the feedback and suggestions.

    We don't currently have a sticky on searches, but I'm going to look into what we can do to make users aware of the options.

    We will also take a look at this option.

    Regarding thread title searches, there are some peculiarities with how those searches are performed, in particular with wildcards. I'll work on an explanation to assist users in their searches.

    You are correct that the minimum word length is configurable in MySQL. We're going to look at what options are available to support shorter acronym searches. While in some cases the actual change is straightforward, there are performance and testing considerations before we commit to a configuration change.

    Thank you again for the feedback.

    -TN
     
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