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Forum search. Forum seaaaaarchhhhhhhhhhhhh!

philip

47 months ago

I hear you, loud and clear. I know we need forum search. It's coming.

I’ve got forum search partially complete. I’ll be honest here - we’re using AWS cloudsearch for indexing and retrieval… it’s ok. We use it for part search and for our completed builds search.

I thought it was passable. Until I spoke with a friend who got his masters in Information Retrieval (i.e. the specialization you want if you're going into search engine stuff) and realized that our part search is woefully naively implemented and could do much much better with a specialized non-AWS solution.

One thing with AWS is that our site is hosted on Linode, and for whatever reason every once in a while the Linode internal DNS likes to go out to lunch and forget where the AWS cloud search endpoints are. Really frustrating until we bypass the internal Linode DNS. Elasticsearch was a possible option, but they recently had a remote code execution vulnerability that kinda gave me the heebie jeebies, so I think we’ll not go that route for now.

Anyhow, forum search poses some interesting usability questions. Do we index just the topics? Or the topics and all the comments in the topic? If both, does the topic text convey more weight in the search results? Or do we need to expose some sort of search switch that says only search the topics, or topics + comments, etc.

Another aspect is that our forums and commenting system here were built in-house by yours truly. So in traditional fashion, I designed it to first work. Then if it got traction, I'd freak out a bit and figure out how to make it scale without taking down the servers. I think we've just finished that second part - the forum adoption surpassed what I thought it would. We had numerous growing pains along the way - from heavily nested comments which I still don't think we're handling right, to boatloads of spam from unnamed regions. Those cause distractions that eat up dev time and delay forum search.

Long story short, I think we've got a lot of the performance issues with forums and comments settled (reasonably so, not where I want it in the end, but a lot better than it used to be). Once we figure out what we want the forum search usability to be like (indexing topics, topics + comments, configurable, etc) then I think the actual implementation will be modestly fast.

Comments

  • 46 months ago
  • 2 points

Well, there definitely needs to be a search bar, it's really a missing feature, even if it's hard to implement with your hosting. I like and find ideal if we have a basic and advanced search options, in the "wikipedia" style: Per default it only checks for titles, but you can set to search for titles, comments, etc. And other options for the search. At the end it's good for everyone, to avoid making duplicates, finding an article you read a while ago you didn't bookmark, etc.

Still, some guys manage to find nearly 2 year old threads

We had numerous growing pains along the way - from heavily nested comments which I still don't think we're handling right, to boatloads of spam from unnamed regions.

Possible "PCPP-Swat" division coming? I'm in for it :)

  • 47 months ago
  • 1 point

Can't wait for this, it has been painstaking trying to search through the archive of my notifications to find some old post to quote. I noticed this is a new section, will it be updated often?

  • 47 months ago
  • 1 point

Reasonably often - it's mainly just a place for me to talk about what's going on. So there'll be times when I'm head down working on code and don't post often, and other times where I need to vent.

  • 46 months ago
  • 1 point

Yeah Linode!

  • 45 months ago
  • 1 point

My first post on your corner! Just to say thanks for this amazing search function it really helps. The only Thing I noticed on mobile with FF Browser it shows a Green X for the search button. This could be my app acting crazy.

  • 45 months ago
  • 1 point

Which device and version of Firefox do you have? If you force a refresh on the page, does it still happen? Also, to clarify, are you referring to the part search icon in the navigation bar (top of the mobile site) or the forum search button?

  • 45 months ago
  • 1 point

I'm using 43.0 version, it was the forum search bar I managed to fix it cleared the cache on the app. Sorry I should have updated my post, everything else was fine but the forum search.

  • 45 months ago
  • 1 point

No problem -- glad to hear it's working fine now!

  • 44 months ago
  • 1 point

I didn't know that you even existed.

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