Dumb search error msg!

Discussion in 'Feedback' started by Jojo999, Feb 7, 2012.

  1.  
    Jojo999

    Jojo999 New Member

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    1. Sorry - no matches. Please try some different terms. The following words are either very common, too long, or too short and were not included in your search : "greg, bear"
    I bet Greg Bear would be upset to discover that because he didn't have a longer name (or is it because his name was too common?), he is invisible to the apparently very limited capabilities of the forum search software being used here!

    So HOW do I go about discovering if anyone has mentioned author "Greg Bear" here?

    Whew. And this is not the first time I have run into problems with the search functionality here. Has any though been given to replacing the forum software with more something capable?
  2.  
    biodroid

    biodroid Expensive Gadget User

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    Search "Greg Bear" not the way you searched. I noticed the search is dodgy sometimes and it annoys.
  3.  
    pyan

    pyan Fortiter et recte! Staff Member

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  4.  
    Dave

    Dave Wherever I Am, I'm There Staff Member

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    When every four-letter word was kept in the search database the database was excessively large. It caused problems when moving between servers, fixing after we were hacked, etc. This is just the unfortunate consequence of being so large and popular.

    In any case, Google works better - just use an advanced Google search within a domain and use www.sffchronicles.co.uk/forum as the domain.
  5.  
    Dave

    Dave Wherever I Am, I'm There Staff Member

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    moving to feedback
  6.  
    Vertigo

    Vertigo Mad Mountain Man

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    As Dave says.

    Though actually there is an easier way; I never actually go into the advanced google search. If you put this "site:www.sffchronicles.co.uk greg bear" into google then it will only search the Chrons. And since most browsers "remember" your past searches I only have to start typing 'site' and then just change the search terms. Simples :)

    Edit: sorry couldn't seem to stop it being turned into a link. Just ignore the link stuff and type in the text you can see.
  7.  
    mosaix

    mosaix Active Member

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    I remember well the occasion that I implemented a point-of-sale system in a large bookshop in Oxford. They wanted to be able to locate books by any word in the title. The index in the database was enormous with one equal-length entry for each word in each title. In the end we maintained an 'exclusion table' containing words to be excluded when initially building the index. It contained words such as 'a', 'the' and 'of'. The beauty of doing it that was that the table was maintained by the user and we weren't continually called back to amend the system.

    Just glancing at a bookcase near me (mainly non-fiction) I'd guess that approaching 50% of the books have 'the' in the title.

    As with most computer systems there's usually some kind of trade-off between practicality and features.
  8.  
    Jojo999

    Jojo999 New Member

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    Is it that a large dB is too slow to search with the software/CPU you have or is the "excessively large" something left over from the days when disk storage used to be expensive?
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    Interference

    Interference Destroyer of Words

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    I would probably have gone "Greg Bear's", as I'm sure the possessive would've been used somewhere in the posts. Of course, if "Bear" were acceptable, you could have spent an entertaining fortnight or so reading Ursa's posts instead :D
  10.  
    mosaix

    mosaix Active Member

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    Disk storage was the problem, Jojo. Mid 1980's.
  11.  
    Dave

    Dave Wherever I Am, I'm There Staff Member

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    Neither, I already said what the problem was.
  12.  
    Jojo999

    Jojo999 New Member

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    I don't understand WHAT the problem is then or I would not have asked the follow-up question. "Excessively large" doesn't tell me much. I guess what I am asking is with storage being so cheap these days, why would a large index be a problem?
  13.  
    mosaix

    mosaix Active Member

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    Apologies from me. :eek:

    I answered Jojo's post without reading it properly and thought he was asking ME a question. Again, apologies.
  14.  
    Brian Turner

    Brian Turner Brian G. Turner Staff Member

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    It's as Dave mentioned - the forum database balloons in size the smaller the allowed words are. And once you have a database that is a few gigabytes in size, you start to increase the risk of errors - not least to damage to the database tables themselves.

    By requiring larger words for search, not only does it mean the database doesn't get too top-heavy, it also makes it much easier for setting up backups. Especially as we've had to do a few server moves over the years, and the larger the database, the bigger a job it becomes.

    Large databases also mean more CPU required, and chrons is just one of a number of sites hosted on this server - I wouldn't want the danger of the server freezing up just because a couple of people were searching small words. :)

    I appreciate the current situation isn't welcome, but it's a case of trading one functionality for another.

    Hope that helps. :)

    PS - Hoom, maybe I should consider just replacing the "search" link with a new window to Google with the "site" modifier in there? Hm...
  15.  
    HareBrain

    HareBrain Lagomorphing Staff Member

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    Sorry to be thick here but how do you access Google's advanced search these days? It seems to have disappeared.

    Edit: whooops, just found my own answer -- the cog-wheel thingy.
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    The Judge

    The Judge Truth. Order. Moderation. Staff Member

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    Would that affect the "Search this forum" and "Search this thread" searches? I use those more than the main Search button in order to limit the answers thrown up, which helps a good deal.
  17.  
    Jojo999

    Jojo999 New Member

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    Maybe add that tip to the "error" msg at least, which is ummm, less than clear as to what the problem is/was.
  18.  
    J-Sun

    J-Sun Active Member

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    I brought this up before and I'm sure I'm not the only one.

    I agree with The Judge there. I think I was originally in favor of it but, actually, this way we can use the Chrons engine when we know it should work and use another engine when we know it won't. I agree with Jojo999 except that I think it should be an explanatory note on the search page explaining what will and won't work. That would help people who haven't experienced it yet and save them from inputting searches that can't work.
  19.  
    Brian Turner

    Brian Turner Brian G. Turner Staff Member

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    No, I wouldn't touch those. It was just a thought to swap the main "search" link on the forum navigation at the top with a direct Google link.
  20.  
    Brian Turner

    Brian Turner Brian G. Turner Staff Member

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    The thing is, there's no way to differentiate between "not found" and "too short to search".

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