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"Advanced search" does neither
Old 07-31-2010, 08:15 PM   #1
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"Advanced search" does neither

"Advanced search" is broke. Again. Still.

As I was writing a post, I decided to look for all the times I've used the phrase "I'm not looking for a job, but..." in the last 18,000 or so posts. (Still yet even more "I'm not looking for a job but...") I've already saved search preferences of "Find threads with at least 0 replies", "Last posting date in descending order", and "Show results as posts". I clicked on "Search" and "Advanced Search", entered keywords "not looking for a job but", put that phrase in quotes, chose "User Name" Nords, clicked the popup to confirm that I'd spelled it correctly, and chose "Any date" for "Find Posts from".

Quote:
The following errors occurred with your search:

1. Sorry - no matches. Please try some different terms.
Thinking that the apostrophes & commas might be causing a glitch, I tried "not looking for a job", "looking for a job", and "not looking for". No results there either. Each time the alleged search engine returns the quoted phrase with the spaces replaced by asterisks.

Clicking the link "view all your posts" still only returns 8000 results.

vBulletin does not appear to be able to handle the big jobs.
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Old 07-31-2010, 08:20 PM   #2
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Yup. I tried to search for "my cat" under my username and got the same result. I think I've used that phrase a time or two.
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Old 07-31-2010, 08:43 PM   #3
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Thanks for letting us know. I had the same problem when I tried it just now. I referred the problem on up the line and hopefully they can figure out what is going on.
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Old 07-31-2010, 09:44 PM   #4
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I bet it is all the short/common words. I seem to recall this from other forums. The vBulletin software filters them out. Strange behavior, but that is how it 'works', (or doesn't work depending on your view).

-ERD50
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Old 08-02-2010, 07:19 AM   #5
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ERD50 is correct. This is because of two database limitations. One is the minimum length of a word that can be searched for. We had it set to 4 letters so the server would perform better. We just changed this to 3 letters to accommodate more searches and will monitor the effects on the server.

The other issue is what they call "Full-Text Stop Words" which are common words which are excluded from full text searches. You can see a list of them on this page.

Due to the issues in the way the database of the software is designed, if you are planning to search for phrases with any of the stop words or very short phrases please use the Google search option.
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Old 08-02-2010, 08:01 AM   #6
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Gadzooks, that is even more limiting than I thought! I had no idea that the 'stop word' list was so long!

So this was done for performance reasons and I have to assume they know what they are doing, but maybe you could relay this suggestion to the designers:

Provide some feedback to the user. They should provide a little output from the search that says (or before the search - that might lower server time more as the user won't even bother):

" The common terms ' I'm ' , 'not' , 'looking' , 'for' , 'a' , and 'but' were not included in your search. "

As I said, I've seen (and experienced) this complaint on other forums, we are not alone here, but the size of that 'stop list' was news to me.

Thanks for the explanation though, even though it isn't what we wanted to hear.

-ERD50
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Old 08-02-2010, 09:46 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Andy R View Post
This is because of two database limitations.
Due to the issues in the way the database of the software is designed, if you are planning to search for phrases with any of the stop words or very short phrases please use the Google search option.
Oh, so it's not a bug, it's a feature. Great. Crappy but oh so fast.

Whoever's taking feedback on Google's search feature could add the features already incorporated in "advanced search". For example in AS I can limit the results to posts made by me or within specific calendar periods. If I add my posting name to a Google search it's still only a poor approximation of AS.
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Old 08-02-2010, 09:57 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Nords View Post
If I add my posting name to a Google search it's still only a poor approximation of AS.
Yes, the google search does all the great google-ly things (quote strings, logical OR and NOT), but it won't do 'search topics only' or search by user-name (any occurrence of that name pops up), or search thread started by user.

I generally find searching a topical forum like this and my 'hobby' forums an exercise in frustration, even with good tools. 99.9% of the time, the search terms are so common to that forum, you get more hits than you can handle. Might as well just browse the forums in those cases. Unless you make a serendipitous typo like 'seal level' for 'sea level' - now I can always find that thread .

-ERD50
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Old 08-02-2010, 10:00 AM   #9
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I hear you loud and clear and will keep my ears open for a solution. In the next version of vBulletin there is supposed to be a way to use a 3rd party search solution called Sphinx to address these types of issues but as of this time we do not have an ETA on upgrading. That version is a major release with a whole new look and feel and loads of bugs. The plan is to wait it out on this version until it's stable which could be a year or two.
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Old 08-02-2010, 11:43 AM   #10
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Well that stop list is certainly eye opening and explains why I kept getting no results when making searches that I knew had to have results. I can understand why those words -- when not in a phrase -- could stop a search. I don't really understand why they do so when part of a phrase being searched.

Oh, well.
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