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Search is terrible


Cheyne
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Im in the process of trying to build a my IP Content driven site, and im hitting many snags around programming, using my own code and various other adjustments, I have to keep trying to find information on the Invision forums although im finding it incredibly difficult.

8 times out of 10 my search is rejected due to lack of character length or some other reason.

I wanted to read more on using custom PHP in my blocks, I search for "using PHP in blocks" .. i get

One or all of your search keywords were below 3 characters or you searched for words which are not allowed, such as 'html', 'img', etc, please increase the length of these search keywords or choose different keywords.



So i try "code in blocks" I get the same PLUS another error saying the word "code" is not allowed.. Seriously why ? You offer products that require people to write code, but searching for the term "code" is not allowed ?

Im sure there is some intelligent and security conscious reason for this, but from a user experience point of view its horrible .. I have to revise my search queries 3 or 4 times before its actually accepted.

I wanted to know what IP Tracker was , as I didnt know but the name sounded good .. I search for "IP Tracker", the name of one of your products and get the same error, seriously.

Infact iv been trying to search for things all day and getting no where, im actually using google.com and passing site:invisionpower.com some search to actually search the forums here because I find it so difficult to use the search function.

I was a long time PHPBB user, then SMF, then vBulletin and now IPB , but this is the only time Iv ever struggled to get information so much. In my opinion search some should fluid, it should be quick and easy and not require logic or check boxes, forms and multiple selections, Google has mastered this and thats why they're the kings of search.

Am I the only person who really dislikes the search feature around here?
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Frustrating indeed. I have found the search for info to be hard because of the different sections it is found. There is the knowledge base, there are tutorials and then there is the Documentation in your client area. (probably the best place to start)

Here are a couple of links for IPContent I have found helpful;
http://community.invisionpower.com/resources/documentation/index.html/_/tutorials/content/
http://community.invisionpower.com/resources/documentation/index.html/_/documentation/administrator-control-panel/ipcontent/

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Right, the min characters thing is really related to your MySQL server settings. The first thing I would do if I were you, to get search working better, is to install Sphinx. Sphinx is fast enough to easily handle one- and two- character searches. In addition, it supports a feature called "stemming" where it recognizes that some search terms are the same. For example "French fry" and "french fries" will given the same search results when using stemming. Third, you can join me in encouraging Invision to add "Sort by relevance" back: Sphinx does a very nice job calculating the best search results, just like Google does.

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So then heres the million dollar question ... Why is it that every other community / board / CMS script out there is able to deal with plain english searches? I used SMF for 4 years and was able to search without any issues, granted, the backend is not as complicated as IPB , but then even vBulletin is able to offer up a normal search experience and its backend is quite complex. (overly if you ask me)

I also dont find the search results from IPB to be particularly accurate, at least no more than any other board script, so I cant under stand the point in making it so difficult.

At the very least, there should be an option to simply remove the three character (or configured size) words from the search string and actually allow the search to continue instead of stopping it dead and forcing the user to revise the search string 2 or 3 times.. I mean, 9 times out of 10 if I happen to include a three character word in the string, all im going to do is just remove it and try again.

Or another would be to remove the word restrictions for members with a certain post count or group.


Meh, sorry , my vent is over ... I generally love all things Invision, this one just annoys me a bit, but i guess its small fries when you weigh it up against all the other things that IPB dominates with.

Thanks for your suggestions guys

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Because other softwares do search like this:

SELECT * FROM posts WHERE post LIKE '%your search term%';



Which is kind of worse. It'll let you search for strings of any length, but it's not the most server-friendly operation.
We do of course, have the option to do that (see documentation - you're looking for the setting to disable "fulltext searching") - so you can change that if you like, but if your site is very large, I wouldn't recommend it.

The unfortunate truth is, MySQL isn't very good at searching. This is why we, unlike most (in fact, last time I checked, any other) providers, have support for Sphinx built-in, which is much more reliable - we use it on these forums and it works great. More information about Sphinx.


To address your other concern about the "code" word being disallowed - it's a BBCode tag, and would return many irrelevant results if you could search on it.


Hope that clears things up a little :)

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Thanks Mark,

Yea.. I understand there is reason for it, doesnt make me like any more though ;) Thats ok, my gripe was probably more around this official invision board and less around my own, I can tone done the restrictions on my own board if I wish. :)

Sphinx sounds pretty good, ill check it out.

Cheers
Cheyne

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Because other softwares do search like this:


SELECT * FROM posts WHERE post LIKE '%your search term%';



Which is kind of worse. It'll let you search for strings of any length, but it's not the most server-friendly operation.
We do of course, have the option to do that (see documentation - you're looking for the setting to disable "fulltext searching") - so you can change that if you like, but if your site is very large, I wouldn't recommend it.

The unfortunate truth is, MySQL isn't very good at searching. This is why we, unlike most (in fact, last time I checked, any other) providers, have support for Sphinx built-in, which is much more reliable - we use it on these forums and it works great. More information about Sphinx.


To address your other concern about the "code" word being disallowed - it's a BBCode tag, and would return many irrelevant results if you could search on it.


Hope that clears things up a little :)



This may not be possible with MySQL Fulltext, but with Sphinx can you do something like "code -[code" where the word "code" is matched only when it doesn't follow a "["? If it has this feature whenever there is a word like "code" or "quote" you could simply add a "-[code -

Nevermind I just realized that in some cases you'd want both anyway.. Still you should be able to search for it anyway.



It seemed like the OP was trying to search this forum and ran into the 3 character limit... Are you sure Sphinx is installed here? It shouldn't have that limitation, correct?

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  • 4 months later...

I have a private forum with only a couple thousand topics on an IPS hosted account, which doesn't support Sphinx. Many of the discussions involve programming topics like file extensions (.txt), function calls (ab.cde()), and three-letter acronyms. The MySQL search feature has been frustrating for this. It improved only partly with the AND logic in 3.1. I tried disabling the full-text search just now, which helped a lot in narrowing down some searches and finding something I was looking for, but doing that disables AND logic globally.

Surely, there are simple technical solutions that will allow adequate searches on hosted accounts with limited resources. Just one of these is to dump the posts to a big text file and index it with something like swish or namazu once a day. I may just do that rather than move to another forum software.

I'd also prefer the matching snippet of text to display inline next to each search result (like Google does). The "View Topic Preview" button next to each result is not the same.

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As long as we're talkin', I have a different issue with Search.

The problem is: Search terms aren't "sticky." Once search results are returned, search terms disappear from the main search box.

Given the IPB forums' drop-down arrangement, where you have to select a subarea to search in (and where's the "All content" option????), you might have to look in Forums, then Help files, then Resources -- and, because search terms aren't sticky, you have to re-enter your search terms every danged time.

If you want to vary the search terms, same thing. You can't just edit what you had before, you have to re-enter the terms.

Search terms should be sticky. The way it works here is not standard.

(I also agree there's a problem with the results, but on every forum I've ever been on, search has been poor in this regard.)

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As long as we're talkin', I have a different issue with Search.



The problem is: Search terms aren't "sticky." Once search results are returned, search terms disappear from the main search box.



Given the IPB forums' drop-down arrangement, where you have to select a subarea to search in (and where's the "All content" option????), you might have to look in Forums, then Help files, then Resources -- and, because search terms aren't sticky, you have to re-enter your search terms every danged time.



If you want to vary the search terms, same thing. You can't just edit what you had before, you have to re-enter the terms.



Search terms should be sticky. The way it works here is not standard.



(I also agree there's a problem with the results, but on every forum I've ever been on, search has been poor in this regard.)



It sounds to me like you have a problem specific to your site, what you're describing is definitely not the implemented behavior. Try it on this site. Search for a term, then switch to the different tabs on the search results, those other tabs will show you the results for your search in those applications without forcing you to re-enter your search term.
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It sounds to me like you have a problem specific to your site, what you're describing is definitely not the implemented behavior. Try it on this site. Search for a term, then switch to the different tabs on the search results, those other tabs will show you the results for your search in those applications without forcing you to re-enter your search term.



Nope, I'm talking about this very site here.

What I was saying is that when search results are returned, the search box itself goes blank.
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Nope, I'm talking about this very site here.



What I was saying is that when search results are returned, the search box itself goes blank.



OK, the box is blank, sure, but what you searched for is still held in the page data. You don't have to re-enter anything into the search box, just switch to a new tab to see the results for your initial search in that app.
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OK, the box is blank, sure, but what you searched for is still held in the page data. You don't have to re-enter anything into the search box, just switch to a new tab to see the results for your initial search in that app.



Except that you've searched for a particular phrase, something from the ACP, for example, and you get a bunch of fuzzy results, and you can't remember the danged phase because it's jargon and the search box has gone blank.

Most search engines restate the query! This is a best practice, I've designed search.

Okay, here's another issue: Search in this community area doesn't look in the documentation. To find anything in documentation, you have to go over to your client area and poke around there. Really!!

Why not map the documentation directory to Help Files or Resources so one can find an answer through one search in any of the many locations in which this info is stashed??

By the way, for the most part, Help Files return no results for phrases found in the ACP. Seems to me there should be at least a paragraph in Help Files or documentation for every setting in the ACP.
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Add this before the search:


$query = preg_replace("/\\s\\S{1,2}?\\s/", ' ', $query);



It might work. You could more easily do it in javascript on the submit handler, removing everything smaller than 3 word characters before posting the form.

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  • 3 weeks later...

Wanted to find topics about changing the background colors in forums, so I entered

forums color



to search these very forums and got this error message:

The following search terms are not allowed and were removed from your query: color

Since when is "color" a forbidden word?????

Of course, the results I got were nonsensical.

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