Go Down

Topic: Searching the forum threads... (Read 405 times) previous topic - next topic

robjphillips

I am sorry if this question has been answered...LoL but it's because I cannot find any search facility that I am compelled to ask...How do I search the forums so that I can review similar questions before posting a question/comment?

Thanks in advance.
~Hyper

Imagination is Real

PaulS

Quote
How do I search the forums so that I can review similar questions before posting a question/comment?
On the top bar on EVERY page is a magnifying glass. Click that, and see what happens.
The art of getting good answers lies in asking good questions.

robjphillips

I've done that already... it brings up a google search page.  But doesnt find any of the Forum threads that I used as test scenarios to see if it would find them.

For example this thread.  From the Forum Index, I selected the mag glass and typed "Searching the forum threads" and got some posts as a result...all of them essentially asking the same question or complaining that there is no search.  I simply assumed that that could not be true.   Guess I was wrong.


~Hyper

Imagination is Real

pert

I regularly have the same problem. It's very frustrating, especially in combination with Google's insistence of doing fuzzy searches instead of the exact query I wanted it to do. I think Google is not so concerned with getting every single result. If their spider skips over a few hundred million pages out of the 130 trillion in the index, it's no big deal for them. And of course it does take some time for the pages to get indexed, though it often happens surprisingly quickly. This is why the Arduino forum should have a real search function. Some time ago it was claimed that this was going to happen but I haven't heard anything since.

Robin2

#4
Nov 07, 2018, 09:12 am Last Edit: Nov 07, 2018, 09:13 am by Robin2
When I consider the OP's requirement "review similar questions before posting a question/comment" I'm not convinced that any other search system is likely to be better than Google.

Unless the request to the search engine uses words that are contained in a Thread that Thread won't be found. For all its qualities, and the huge ongoing investment in it, Google is still really primitive compare to the human mind.

I don't have confidence that the Arduino developers could do a better job - particularly as they don't use the Forum regularly and cannot be aware of their customers' experience.

...R
Two or three hours spent thinking and reading documentation solves most programming problems.

pert

When I consider the OP's requirement "review similar questions before posting a question/comment" I'm not convinced that any other search system is likely to be better than Google.

Unless the request to the search engine uses words that are contained in a Thread that Thread won't be found. For all its qualities, and the huge ongoing investment in it, Google is still really primitive compare to the human mind.
Well, it's certainly an advantage if system actually indexes every forum page. Google does not. An on-site search will have every single page from the moment it hits the database.

It's very common that people are posting here about an error message. Searching for that error message is very likely to find the previous posts (as long as they didn't use a screenshot of the error instead of text). The key is to have good search skills.

If you search for this:
"C:\Users\per\Documents\Arduino\libraries\max6675arduinolibrary/MAX6675.h:9:22: error: WProgram.h: No such file or directory"
You're not going to get any results.

If you search for this:
"MAX6675.h:9:22: error: WProgram.h: No such file or directory"
You might get some results with very specific directions for fixing the problem in that library, or you might get nothing.

If you search for this:
"error: WProgram.h: No such file or directory"
You're going to get plenty of results that are reasonably relevant.

If you search for this:
"No such file or directory"
You're going to get thousands of results but most will only give a general hint about the cause of the problem.

If you search for this:
"exit status 1"
You're going to get a zillion unrelated results.

It's all about being able to craft a search that is not too specific and not too general. That's a basic skill anyone using the Internet should have but I'm not convinced they do.

In other cases, there might not be a specific phrase you can search for. In that case, the "fuzziness" of Google's search may be an advantage for this purpose and it's unlikely that an on-site search feature would be able to do that sort of thing anywhere near as well as Google, if at all.

I don't have confidence that the Arduino developers could do a better job - particularly as they don't use the Forum regularly and cannot be aware of their customers' experience.
It's not a matter of them writing a search engine from scratch. They should be able to just grab an existing solution and install it. The search functionality is already available for the SMF forum software. The use of an outdated and modified version of the forum software might make it not so simple though.

Robin2

#6
Nov 07, 2018, 03:50 pm Last Edit: Nov 07, 2018, 03:55 pm by Robin2
I must say I have found Google very good whenever I use it to search for an error message - though most of my searches are not for Arduino problems.

I have written a diary program for myself (on my PC) that has a simple full-text search facility (an add-on for SQLite) and it does work very well with almost zero programming effort on my part. But my diary entries are very terse and I generally know that the word I am searching for is actually in an entry. I don't think I have ever used it to search for a phrase.

I have no idea what the overhead might be to maintain a searchable list of words in a database as large the Forum's.

Google's great strength is that it gets you useful information - usually on the first page of results. Having a Forum search facility that can produce a list of 500 Threads with "MAX6675.h" without any order of priority is not necessarily much value.

I don't think "WProgram.h" is a good example because it has a very specific solution and it really does not matter what Thread is identified. When I typed that into my DuckDuckGo search bar the first result gave the solution.
...R
Two or three hours spent thinking and reading documentation solves most programming problems.

pert

I don't think "WProgram.h" is a good example because it has a very specific solution and it really does not matter what Thread is identified.
Well, it's not a good example for the problem of missing threads because it's been posted about so many times so it's impossible that Google could miss them all. But that just underscores the importance of a good search system, good search skills, and people bothering to do it. So much of the stuff on this forum is just the same thing over and over again when we should only need to answer each unique question once, after which that thread would be the reference for everyone else with the same question (like how Stack Exchange is supposed to work). In the time it takes for someone to make a post, they could have done a search, found a solution, and been on their way. Instead, their project is now sidetracked as they wait for someone to reply.

The "WProgram.h" example was in response to your comment:
Unless the request to the search engine uses words that are contained in a Thread that Thread won't be found.
A large percentage of the posts here do have very specific phrases and very specific solutions. In fact, quite a few of my replies are simply copy paste from my collection of stock answers.

Having a Forum search facility that can produce a list of 500 Threads with "MAX6675.h" without any order of priority is not necessarily much value.
Well it certainly could be sorted by date (creation date or last updated date). You could also search a specific forum section.

westfw

Google search is usually pretty good, but Ideally I'd like to so:
  • Search a particular sub-forum or set of sub-forums.
  • Search for posts by a particular author (usually myself.)  Since the poster's name doesn't actually appear in the post, Google is very bad at this - I can see replies where someone has quoted me, but not my own posts.

Robin2

after which that thread would be the reference for everyone else with the same question (like how Stack Exchange is supposed to work).
I think there is an Arduino strand of Stack Exchange.

But Stack Exchange is not a place suited to friendly banter.

I have suggested in the past that this Forum might be modified to include tags like Stack Exchange has so that a Thread could be linked with a variety of concepts. But that would only work if the list of tags is strictly controlled to a manageable number.

...R
Two or three hours spent thinking and reading documentation solves most programming problems.

pert

Here's the Arduino Stack Exchange:
https://arduino.stackexchange.com/

Certainly a lot of the things posted here would be quickly closed if they were asked as questions on Arduino Stack Exchange.

I really like the concept of Stack Exchange. Unfortunately the average Arduino user will never bother to read and follow the rules so the majority of questions, and a significant number of "answers", just end up needing to be deleted. By the time I get done dealing with all that stupidity, I rarely have the energy to try to answer the legitimate questions that are left open.

Robin2

#11
Nov 08, 2018, 05:10 pm Last Edit: Nov 08, 2018, 05:11 pm by Robin2
I really like the concept of Stack Exchange.
To be honest I liked it more when I was reading Joel Spolsky and Jeff Attwood while they were originally building it.

It is too impersonal for my taste - though I certainly make use of it when Google throws it up in answer to my queries.


...R
Two or three hours spent thinking and reading documentation solves most programming problems.

Go Up