Search me! January 31, 2008 9:36 PM   Subscribe

The new Search is officially live. Full details to follow.

We've been testing out search for the past few weeks and after rolling out searching of favorites we figured it was time to roll it out as a site-wide and site-specific feature.

The nav in the header and footer should have a link to the search engine and it works for only logged in members. The search boxes you will see in the header and footer for those in the normal site template (plain text version doesn't have them) are already wired up to search just the site you are viewing.

So, in other words, you can search all mefi sites for a phrase like "Peru" or if you type "Peru" in the search box on Ask MeFi, it will automatically show results just for Ask MeFi. There's a handy drop down to change to other sites, or search across all sites.

The footer of the search results shows you all the pages of results, allowing you to easily jump to the oldest result (I already found out I was the first person to use the word "Bush" on mefi). There's also a link to google and yahoo results on the site for that phrase.

We will eventually add more features to an advanced page, letting do things like filter results for stuff from just one user, stuff with certain tags, stuff with favorites, etc.

For now, enjoy, it's pretty good and blazing fast in our testing, so feel free to try using it to dig up that Ask MeFi post you've been looking for and let us know if you find any problems or have suggestions to improve it.
posted by mathowie to Feature Requests at 9:36 PM (69 comments total) 4 users marked this as a favorite

Very good! Thank You.

(I already found out I was the first person to use the word "Bush" on mefi).

You newsfilter-loving bastard.
posted by LarryC at 9:43 PM on January 31, 2008


Super awesome.
posted by puritycontrol at 9:51 PM on January 31, 2008


Searching for "bush" throws an error, as does searching for "george." Searching for other terms (e.g. "lol" and "gore") returns results as expected.
posted by Mr. President Dr. Steve Elvis America at 9:56 PM on January 31, 2008


By the way, I clicked "Search" between "Mefi Wiki" and "Random" at the top of the page, and used the "All Sites" search.

I'm using Firefox 2.0.0.11 on Windows XP.
posted by Mr. President Dr. Steve Elvis America at 9:57 PM on January 31, 2008


This is tasty.

Little bug: If I do a search restricted to one site, the pagination links at the bottom don't retain the "site=meta" (or whatever) variable, so I get taken to results from all sites.
posted by chrismear at 9:58 PM on January 31, 2008


"bush" throws an error
Congratulations on your excellent Real Life Emulation. (You know somebody would say it)
posted by wendell at 9:59 PM on January 31, 2008


One thing I've never understood is why I get different results when I use a username in my search. For instance, if I search sitewide for

dobbs milch

I get 2 results--two posts where I mentioned david milch.

However, if I search for

article milch

I get 5 matches... of which three are posts by me which mention milch. Why doesn't that third one show up in the initial search?

Further, if I search for

dobbs milch

and choose anything except "all sites" I get zero results even though both the Ask and MeFi options say "1 result" (ie, the result doesn't appear). wth?

Lastly, if I search 'all sites' the results say '... results across comments' when I think it should say '... results across all sites.'
posted by dobbs at 10:05 PM on January 31, 2008


Maybe it's just me, but I kind of miss having quick access to a Google site search in the upper-right box. It can pick up some things the MeFi search doesn't, checking different forms of a word and such.
posted by pravit at 10:06 PM on January 31, 2008


Cool!

Some questions: what kind of syntax are we looking at here, if any? Are there any operators (+, -, AND, NOT etc)? Will throwing in more terms broaden the results list or narrow it (seems like the latter, from what dobbs said)? Any hints for more effective searchifying?
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 10:12 PM on January 31, 2008


I tried to search for some Unicode (Chinese) and it says there's one comment with the text string I entered, but it doesn't seem to be showing up as a clickable link in the results.
posted by Abiezer at 10:12 PM on January 31, 2008


Thanks, Matt!
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 10:36 PM on January 31, 2008


dobbs, it's not doing any username attribution in search, so if you search for your username, it should only pull up comments/posts that mentioned your name in the text.
posted by mathowie (staff) at 10:39 PM on January 31, 2008


Searching for "bush" throws an error, as does searching for "george."

Both work for me. George results. Bush results. I don't see any errors. What did your error say?
posted by mathowie (staff) at 10:43 PM on January 31, 2008


I tried to search for some Unicode (Chinese) and it says there's one comment with the text string I entered, but it doesn't seem to be showing up as a clickable link in the results.

Click the timestamp to see the comment in context.
posted by mathowie (staff) at 10:43 PM on January 31, 2008


Some questions: what kind of syntax are we looking at here, if any? Are there any operators (+, -, AND, NOT etc)? Will throwing in more terms broaden the results list or narrow it (seems like the latter, from what dobbs said)? Any hints for more effective searchifying?

Space delimited terms are separate tokens, and the default operator is AND, so throwing in more terms will narrow the results list: 'butts lol' will return fewer results than just 'butts'.

You can use prefix '-' as a NOT modifier: 'butts -lol' will return results that contain butts and not lol.

There's a stop list -- very common words (like the, it, if, and so on) don't get matched, and neither do very short sequences (one or two letter strings).

There's also some smart suffix matching going on, so plurals and regular past-tense forms and a few other things may match off a root form, e.g. 'butts' for a search on 'butt'. Substring searching is not part of it, so a search for 'butts' will not match a comment containing the string 'buttsex'.
posted by cortex (staff) at 10:45 PM on January 31, 2008 [4 favorites]


what kind of syntax are we looking at here, if any?

It's really basic to start with. Put in a word, and it'll look for that. Put in two words and both will have to appear in a comment/post (they don't have to be together). There's no exact phrase search or NOT stuff right now, but it's pretty easy to add later.
posted by mathowie (staff) at 10:45 PM on January 31, 2008


Trying to keep up with the bugs here. Fixed "bush" and pagination staying within the site filter. If there was only one comment result, it wasn't showing up--it is now.

dobbs, when I do a search for "dobbs milch", I get two comments (beyond your meta comment here). One is by you and one is by geoff addressing you. Keep in mind that this is searching the text of comments and posts--usernames aren't included. (We have a separate user activity search on the way.) Searching for "pb" isn't a good way to find stuff that I've contributed to the site, but it might be a good way to find people addressing my comments or talking about me. (Or lead.)
posted by pb (staff) at 10:47 PM on January 31, 2008


What. the. fuck. matt?
posted by Astro Zombie at 10:47 PM on January 31, 2008 [1 favorite]


For maximum results, type in the word hug. Who says Mefites are an unfriendly, snarky bunch?
posted by Cranberry at 10:57 PM on January 31, 2008


Better check the search algorithm. There weren't nearly as many hits for "assclown" as I expected.

seriously, cool stuff, thanks
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 11:09 PM on January 31, 2008


Mother of mercy! Is this the end of the double post?
posted by Iridic at 11:10 PM on January 31, 2008


it's not doing any username attribution in search, so if you search for your username, it should only pull up comments/posts that mentioned your name in the text.

Hmm. Well that explains much and I gotta say this is disappointing. Usually I can remember the poster and the "theme" of what I want to find (and this theme leads me to a word or two that is probably in the post). Without the username I get way too many results.
posted by dobbs at 11:16 PM on January 31, 2008


dobbs, as I said in the original post here, we'll be adding search options like search terms by a certain username very soon. We already have an internal version that works that way.

Personally I'm finding this new search is a thousand times better than a general Google or Yahoo index search of the site, primarily because it ignores stuff like usernames and all the other junk on a page that Google indexes.
posted by mathowie (staff) at 11:23 PM on January 31, 2008


For fun, I put in "." (a single dot) to see how many people commented "." in various threads over the years.

Nothing came back, and the search results message said "No results for" with no "." after, implying that the character was stripped.

As a way of determining whether or not this was true (versus a character count limit) I plugged in an unlikely string ending in ".", expecting to get back "No results for [character string without the .]".

Instead, I got a "null null" error. Here's the search string: bdf.
posted by davejay at 11:26 PM on January 31, 2008


Note that with this string: "illkjl." I got the expected "no results found for illkjl" without the ".".
posted by davejay at 11:28 PM on January 31, 2008


for the troubleshooting challenged, I'm pointing out that it's an issue related to character length when results are not found, NOT that someone looking for "bdf" will be disappointed
posted by davejay at 11:29 PM on January 31, 2008


One more then I'm off for bed: it's not a character limit thing (at least not only), because "are." returns no results, but also doesn't trigger the bug. Hmm.
posted by davejay at 11:30 PM on January 31, 2008


davejay, like cortex said, it ignores common phrases and anything shorter than three characters. It also ignores HTML and punctuation.
posted by mathowie (staff) at 11:31 PM on January 31, 2008


Thanks mathowie. It's showing the comment now, but I swear it wasn't when I posted.
posted by Abiezer at 11:35 PM on January 31, 2008


Yeah, but "bdf." is not shorter than three characters when the punctuation is removed -- and "ignores" and "throws a null null error at position -1" are two different things. Plug it in and try it.
posted by davejay at 11:44 PM on January 31, 2008


Ok davejay. I guess I'm also interested in hearing how people use it and how they're finding things. I'm sure weird bugs are present when searching nonsensical strings.

When I started playing with it, I found heaps of cool data, like the first mention of nader nader nader, how many times people have said objectionable words, and when the first electionfilter post was made. It's kind of like the metadata dump without all the overhead of having to populate a database or run SQL queries.
posted by mathowie (staff) at 11:49 PM on January 31, 2008


[this] really [is good]. It took for goddamn ever, I gotta say, but it's sure sweet now that it's here. Thanks again, guys.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 12:15 AM on February 1, 2008


mathowie wrote: davejay, like cortex said, it ignores common phrases and anything shorter than three characters.

This doesn't appear to be correct. Two character search phrases work fine. Single character search phrases are ignored.
posted by RichardP at 12:24 AM on February 1, 2008


Based on what I just tried to search for after verifying it still exists if you know where to look, it appears this does not search deleted threads. Is that correct?

disclaimer: this is not necessarily a bad thing, except perhaps when checking for doubles.
posted by davejay at 12:52 AM on February 1, 2008


Not to imply that I'm any less than thrilled by this new development, but it would be even bettererer if you at least had the option to group results by thread. Sorted by date this mostly happens already, sort of, but it would be great to be able to breeze past whole threads without mousing over each URL.
posted by aubilenon at 1:20 AM on February 1, 2008


14,501 posts and 180,473 comments.

I was looking for all the 'Metafilter:' comments, but all the text ever due to matching the address is fine, too.
posted by flatluigi at 3:46 AM on February 1, 2008 [1 favorite]


Hi searchers and those with some free time!
(of course, those will change by the time you look at the link, but eh)
posted by flatluigi at 3:48 AM on February 1, 2008


Thanks! I'm glad to have this back.
posted by Wolfdog at 3:56 AM on February 1, 2008


(also also, it's almost every text -- it's any comment that mentions metafilter (obviously) or that has a link to amazon or metafilter along with every post that isn't deleted.)
posted by flatluigi at 3:57 AM on February 1, 2008


MUST. HAVE. TAGLINE SEARCH.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 4:03 AM on February 1, 2008 [1 favorite]


Seems to work well. Thanks Matt.
posted by Dave Faris at 4:34 AM on February 1, 2008


Bug Report (I think) ; I searched for words- 'look around you', filtered by Metafilter and got 90 odd Posts. Cool. Read through the first page of results then clicked for page 2 and it reverted to 'All Sites' as opposed to just 'Metafilter'- giving me page 2 of hundreds of results rather than subset of Metafilter I was looking for. Am I doing something wrong or is it a bug?
posted by Gratishades at 4:56 AM on February 1, 2008


Search results for "boyzone" as of February 1st, 2008.

Search results for "girlzone" as of February 1st, 2008.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 6:10 AM on February 1, 2008


Thanks guys!

One problem though: I just ran a search for my name and found out that it's a racial epithet. Can we, uh... get that fixed?

[NOT RACIST]
posted by sambosambo at 6:31 AM on February 1, 2008


MUST. HAVE. TAGLINE SEARCH.

That's more of a specialty job, really.
posted by cortex (staff) at 6:40 AM on February 1, 2008 [1 favorite]


sambosambo- are you talking of changing your name or the world? It's fairly old fashioned (I was going to say quaint, but am sure that some would take issue with that) and probably better known in the UK (as derogatory to 'natives' from the time of Empire) I guess if it was something you were unaware of it's connotations.
posted by Gratishades at 6:40 AM on February 1, 2008


I only meant that I wasn't aware of any other connotations for the name when I chose it. Name-changing has already been brought up before and denied. It's clearly just a scam to get an extra $5 out of folks like me.

Plus, I'm already settled in here pretty well. Been to some meetups, got some pretty sweet contacts, a couple favorites, a nice little site-wide search that just went live--yeah, things are going pretty well at the moment.
posted by sambosambo at 7:16 AM on February 1, 2008


Well, with the repetition it starts to sound more like a Japenese arcade game, so that kind of puts you in the clear for cultural baggage anyway.

Except that the video game is played by dancing on a special butt-shaped dancepad in special high-heel controllers, which is kind of weird and thoughtless of you, so you're busted all over again.
posted by cortex (staff) at 7:45 AM on February 1, 2008


Any possibility for a tag only search?

Or does this already exist? Am I an idiot? I just wanna search for tags without wading through actual posts for the tag link, or having to manually type in the tag into the http: box. Pweese?
posted by cowbellemoo at 7:46 AM on February 1, 2008


tag seach is on the old search page:
http://www.metafilter.com/search.mefi
posted by mathowie (staff) at 8:57 AM on February 1, 2008 [2 favorites]


And you can always turn to Google to search tags.
posted by pb (staff) at 8:59 AM on February 1, 2008


First use of boyzone:

Can someone give me the Cliffs Notes version of who the hell boyzone is?
posted by mathowie at 6:10 PM on April 20 [2001]


Heh. Little did you know.

Also, thanks, this is super!
posted by languagehat at 9:11 AM on February 1, 2008


That stings, sambo. At least it's not because of metafilter that your name is an epithet, like others I could name.
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 9:14 AM on February 1, 2008


Very neat, thanks!
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 9:14 AM on February 1, 2008


Iridic writes "Mother of mercy! Is this the end of the double post?"

Nope. All the mystery meat posts still won't come up in a lot of cases.
posted by Mitheral at 9:32 AM on February 1, 2008


OMG, this is *SO* much better! I was able to find the zombie muscle post in one search!
posted by jasper411 at 10:17 AM on February 1, 2008


Man, this is fun. Now it can be known: who wins Metafilter? *

George W. Bush - 6112 mentions in comments (Full name only)
Adolf Hitler - 4850
Barack Obama - 2127
William Shakespeare - 1615
Hillary Clinton - 1036
Fred Rogers - 377
Hunter S. Thompson - 302
Oscar Wilde - 274
Margaret Thatcher - 130
Charlemagne - 101
Emily Dickinson - 87
Leni Riefenstahl - 87
Cary Grant - 81
Dred Scott - 79
Joan of Arc - 71
Pope Benedict XVI - 71
Dorothy Parker - 65
Gene Wolfe - 63
Yukio Mishima - 54
Queen Victoria - 49
Billie Holiday - 47
Jonathan Coulton - 34
Deng Xiaoping - 23
Ralph Waldo Emerson - 20
Gary Trudeau - 16
Rosalind Franklin - 16
Chinua Achebe - 11
Lech Walea - 9
Hypatia of Alexandria - 7
Barbara Stanwyck - 5
Ashoka the Great - 4
Eleanor of Aquitaine - 4
Ozzie Guillen - 3
Artemisia Gentileschi - 1

*Disclaimer: Absurdly unscientific. All values will increase by one after publication of post.
posted by Iridic at 10:55 AM on February 1, 2008


Artemisia Gentileschi definitely needs more MeFi love.
posted by languagehat at 11:35 AM on February 1, 2008


I'm having trouble searching for references to my favorite band.
posted by brain_drain at 12:19 PM on February 1, 2008


Seeing results sorted by mefi / askme / meta might be nice, maybe somehow color-coded with the respective site background or something?

Interestingly, it seems to be indexing HTML in comments, at least their URLs. Eg, searching for "ceiling cat" pulls up this post, which has the world "ceiling" in its text, but "cat" only appears as part of a linked URL. (This is actually kind of cool, though it's not how I'd expect it to work.) In a future enhancement it would be cool if searching for a phrase was possible (eg, "ceiling cat" versus "ceiling" AND "cat").

Overall, it looks awesome, thanks! I've been wishing something like this would happen for ages.
posted by whir at 12:51 PM on February 1, 2008


Er, I mean this post (from this search).
posted by whir at 12:55 PM on February 1, 2008


now I'm just gonna search my favorites for matt's link to the tag search. :P
posted by cowbellemoo at 5:10 PM on February 1, 2008


This is freakin' great!
posted by hadjiboy at 11:30 PM on February 1, 2008


Nice to see Gene Wolfe up there. But I'm amazed that Maggie Thatcher is in the top10. I never read about her here and those rankings are off.
posted by Skygazer at 1:33 AM on February 2, 2008


But I'm amazed that Maggie Thatcher is in the top10.

Keep in mind that she's only in the top ten of "random famous people that Iridic used to test the search engine." But according to my (shaky and ultimately meaningless) method, she is indeed more present in MeFites' minds than Billie Holiday and Cary Grant put together.

Especially now that we've added two more comments to her hoard...
posted by Iridic at 9:06 AM on February 2, 2008


Man, Google is Magic sometimes.

If you search for "filipino thriller", you get where the video was posted here, even though the post never says "filipino". The site search understandably can't quite keep up with that voodoo.
posted by smackfu at 8:40 PM on February 3, 2008




...it closed my heart. :/
posted by flatluigi at 8:34 PM on February 4, 2008 [1 favorite]


MetaFilter: It closed my heart.
posted by wendell at 10:32 PM on February 4, 2008


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