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Changes to Tags, Contextual Recommendations, Search

Later today we will release a series of enhancements to the site. Please note, links below will not work until we launch...

* Contextual Recommendations: We are now presenting contextually relevant suggestions of related CHOW & Chowhound content on story, recipe, and Chowhound thread pages on the site. So, if a user is reading a thread or story about cheese, they will be able to easily view additional content about cheese. We hope that this will help users to discover additional content that might interest them.


* Auto-Tagging & Tags Pages
We have added 5,000 new tag pages to the site, that collect all content related to a given keyword on one page. We are linking to these pages from the contextual recommendations module described above, and also within the body of the text on the story & recipe pages.


* Changes to Search
We've moved the site to a new search system, with improved relevance, and cleaner design. The main changes you will notice are:
- Advanced search options are now in the right column, rather than in the center where they were before. Functionality is the same.
- You will not see the details of board, date and poster on the main "All Results" tab of search, but it is all available under the "Boards" tab.
- Text search options such as User:Username and Board:Boardname are no longer available, we will restore them in the next release, in the interim, searching by username in quotes should return all posts for that user.
- If you have bookmarked searches, they will no longer work, so you will need to reset them.


We are going to be improving and refining these features over the next several weeks, so please let us know if you have any suggestions or notice problems, or there are tags you'd like to see added to the site. We really hope that you'll enjoy these new features, and that this will help you find what you are looking for and discover additional relevant content you didn't know was on the site.

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  1. Here's the problem I find with the changes to Places hub search.

    2 Replies
    1. re: Melanie Wong

      Thanks for your feedback, we will fix the issues you reported in that thread.

      1. re: JustineR

        That would be wonderful. Title: search is another one that I use often.

      1. re: rworange

        I just discovered this extraneous stuff in a search for someone on the Boston board....it seems the links still work with the "?tag=search" portion - it just looks really awkward.

      2. OK, this has slowed the site down to unbearable again with pages taking 5 or minutes to load. if one of the changes was to "will help users to discover additional content that might interest them" work on the site performance not how pretty it looks.

        I would LOVE to read more on Chow/Chowhound. As it is I am about a month behind reading the SF board. So it is rare that I click on other intersting links I see because it takes TOO LONG for them to load.

        With this latest change, and the fact that I am a month behind on the only board I read anymore my Chowhound reading will be even more limited.

        I guess my main Chowhound access will be primarily through the Chow Digest emails.

        2 Replies
        1. re: rworange

          I don't know if that's the cause, but starting yesterday afternoon I also found the site slowed to the point of stopping at moments- pages would time out and not load, like the site was down. Usually a few minutes later things seemed better, but then they would get worse again. I haven't noticed it this morning so hopefully it was just a problem with the initial launch.

          1. re: Chris VR

            Thanks for your feedback, we are aware of the slowness & stability issues and are working to fix them as quickly as possible. Thanks for your patience.

        2. Advanced Search can't find the Places records that were created 5 hours ago. Is there a long delay in updating or is this a bug?

          1 Reply
          1. re: Melanie Wong

            This is a bug, we'll investigate & fix.

          2. There are 4746 topics under the boards link in the cheese tags. They are sorted in
            an apparently random order. They can only be viewed 15 topics at a time, which means
            clicking through over 300 pages! They can't be resorted, filtered, or sub-searched.
            What is your intention here? I It seems pretty completely useless as is.


            Also, it looks like everything after and including the ? in that url is superfluous.

            1. I'm sorry if this has been reported elsewhere but I have limited access to the site not being able to search or open posts without refreshing 3-4 times.

              I was searching Places for Barefoot Coffee Roasters from the San Francisco Place board. There is a duplicate record, I suspect. When I entered "Barefoot Coffee Roasters" There were three pages of results from all of Chow with any of those words. So I used the options specifying just barefoot and I got "Your search for Barefoot did not return any results"

              However, if you go back to the SF region board it is pretty clear that it is there

              A note about putting the options to the side. This is awful if using the a larger text on the browser. As it is any page on this site takes forever to load, now I have slooooowly scroll to the side to get to the options. It would be nice if in future testing someone took a look at these screens using larger text. Lots of people use it.

              1. Sigh. Yet another update riddled with problems, including major performance hits and thousands of blank pages and "application error" screens.

                I tried the new search. I can't see anything but the first page of results. Clicking on the "2" returns me to a blank search page.

                (And y'all haven't fixed the basic problem with the search functionality that I reported here: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/576717 - you can't turn off the unhelpful fuzzy matching. Bummer.)

                Why can't changes be tested and working BEFORE they're rolled out?


                P.S. I agree with rworange - the search options are way too far to the right. The "search tips" definitely take up too much space.

                1. Can you please return the advanced search to the top of the page rather than to the right? I need to scroll over to get to the area since I use CH as one of many open panes on my laptop. On my ipod, it's just one more barrior using the device with CH.

                  2 Replies
                  1. re: alwayscooking

                    Thanks for the feedback, and yes we will return the advanced search to the top of the page.

                  2. Is anyone else finding the new search function just about useless? I just tried, for the third time today, to find something I know I posted about. I finally found one post using the Google advanced search. Boolean searches seem not to be working at all. Is it me? Am I doing something wrong? Anyone else having the same problem?

                    7 Replies
                    1. re: JoanN

                      As a techie - I wonder which search engine they recently switched to - does anyone know?

                      1. re: JoanN

                        I did that too - I searched on the Manhattan board for title:tse, knowing that there was thread with "Tse Yang" in the title, and it didn't come up.

                        1. re: MMRuth

                          As noted in the initial post, the previous search helpers like title: user: etc no longer function. but i searched for Tse Yang (without title) on Manhattan board and got the following: http://search.chow.com/search?query=T...

                          Can you let me know what thread you wanted to come up so we can look into how to improve the relevance?

                          1. re: JustineR

                            Thanks - obviously missed that mention in the OP!

                            I did find the post that I was looking for, and look forward to these search helpers working again. Most of the searches that I do - usually to locate specific threads that I know exist - use user: and/or title: to quickly locate the post. The usefulness of the title function also is that there is more likely to be more content about the title search term, rather than just a passing mention of the search term.

                              1. re: MMRuth

                                And here is another example of why I miss the user/title option. I want to reply to:


                                I search using Spanish tapas mmruth and get - http://search.chow.com/search?query=s...

                                I changed the time frame to 3 years. As you can see, lots of posts to wade through, when I know there are threads with either Spanish or tapas in the tile, to which I have posted.

                                If I then add tortilla and chorizo to the search, on the 2nd page, I find what I'm looking for:


                            1. re: JustineR

                              Search is still hit-or-miss. When I click on the RESTAURANTS link under "Filter results" on your search page for Tse Yang, it returns no results.

                              In fact there's been a place record for this restaurants since 2007 ... http://www.chow.com/places/17593

                        2. And the search button is too big and in the wrong place and overstomping some CBS
                          advertising. Safari 4, osx. See attached photo.

                          1. I search the SF board for "chuckles the clone" in quotes. I get "Showing 1 to 9 of 9 results".
                            I'm pretty sure I've posted more than that.

                            When the (abbreviated) search results are displayed, the search box has been zeroed
                            out. So if I want to run the same search over with different parameters or add a term,
                            I need to type the whole thing over again.

                            I'm sure your contractor has told you this has been tested. But it hasn't been.

                            1. Can you please fire the idiot "designer" who keeps producing unreadable grey-on-white
                              text. The snippet text in the search results is in unreadable grey-on-white. If you
                              search the "boards" the word "boards" is glommed on to every single result in stark black.
                              Why not go the other way -- display the actual text the user is looking for in readable,
                              upfront black and present the unnecessary, pointless decoration in a subtle shade of

                              1. Wrong terms are highlighted in the invisible-grey search result snippets.

                                Search for "I was at Range on Sunday night".


                                Note that "on", which is in the quoted phrase but probably on some stopword list, is
                                not highlighted. Note that there are other occurrences of "Range" which are highlighted
                                even though they are not in the quoted phrase.

                                Note that the phrase we just searched for is not in the search box.

                                1 Reply
                                1. re: Chuckles the Clone

                                  The problem of the search phrase not being included in the search box has been fixed.

                                  We will fix the issue of the quoted phrase search highlighting terms that are not the exact quoted phrase, and the stopword highlighting too.

                                2. The places search is pretty useless right now, not counting errors already mentioned.

                                  Some of the freeform info in "what's it like" should be displayed. I learned months ago from updating hundreds of records that this is nice to have as people have an idea what the restaurant is about. Even Google does that for a good reason.

                                  Fortunately I had the old search bookmarked and ... thank god ... it still works. PLEASE don't take that away until the new search is fixed.

                                  Here's what you have now searching on Berkeley and brunch

                                  Not very informative.

                                  Here's what the old search displayed for the same criteria

                                  While the new design looks cleaner ... because it gives no info, why would users click on every single one of those links to find out more info.

                                  I'm thinking of someone on an iphone trying to determine where to eat isnt going to take the time to bounce to the place record and read each one ... and why should they?

                                  We get TONS inquiries from visitors on the SF board with repetative questions. Giving the visitor a search that has a nice little summary has been very helpful. It could be one of the features to elevate places above other food sites and draw people to Chow when they want restaurant info.

                                  Also, region needs to be displayed as well. Too often search returns restaurants from multiple regions.

                                  Someone from Chow mentioned there are changes for Places also planned. I hope you will solicit some user feedback about how people use that part of the system before the new, improved version is delivered. I'm also sure you would have a number of people willing to volunteer for beta testing too. These type of buggy installations seem so unecessary.

                                  3 Replies
                                  1. re: rworange

                                    > These type of buggy installations seem so unnecessary.

                                    Totally agreed.

                                    I'll bet many of you have seen other sites that do it right: search, listings functions, etc. Which ones do you especially like, and why? Some examples of the best sites out there might help point the CHOW staff in the right direction.

                                    1. re: rworange

                                      Thanks for the thoughtful feedback. We're aware of the problems with places search, and we're working to fix them. And, there will be changes coming to places in the next few months that will improve this experience, and we will solicit input from users as we put those changes in place.

                                      1. re: JustineR

                                        >>> we will solicit input from users as we put those changes in place.

                                        I don't mean to be unpleasant, but Chowhound installations have been so unpleasant for years.

                                        If that means the usual installation where Chow decides on a design, and at this point I'm not really sure what is driving some of this stuff, it gets put out untested and only THEN you ask what we think ... that is not what I'm talking about.

                                        Somewhere before the specs get approved and passed to the engineers there should be some focus groups from people who use the site and how they use the site.

                                        Again, I feel like most, if all the changes are driven by the Chow side of the site and that people at Chow don't understand how the site is used on the Chowhound side.

                                        I'm not just talking about heavy users like myself. The forums are a different animal from Chow. They are not as static or limited. It would be nice to get some input from users on design upgrades, selecting a few people from all categories ... from newbie to old timer ... from occasional user to daily readers.

                                        I'm quite frankly cringing about what changes are planned for places. The three things I specifically would like to see are
                                        - four price categories such as inexpensive, moderate, pricey, expensive ( rather than average which is subject to lots of fluctuation and not easy to figure out)
                                        - most recent link first if possible ... LIFO, not FIFO
                                        - SOME clear difference between linking a review and linking to use as a gps to indicate address. Search is so screwy that it is currently unusable to me. Maybe it will be fixed, maybe not. Maybe the next installation will cause more problems.

                                        If there were actual links only to reports, it would be easier to look up info about a restaurant.

                                        Oh heck ... why not...

                                        I would also like to see
                                        - display 'no' if no credit cards are used or no reservations are taken
                                        - some text to tell people the difference between posting their opinons on a place and posting general info about the place. If the first, they should be directed to Chowhound
                                        - Text to tell businesses this is not the place to promote their business. Put it up front. Who reads the guidlines for the most part.
                                        - some other fields such as alcohol served ... none, beer, wine, full bar ... and a few other based on questions asked over and over ... and over on the boards.

                                    2. Try this link for the "chowhound" tag, which popped up next to a Places record for an Indian restaurant in San Jose.

                                      How is that providing more information about "chowhound" or anything?

                                      Please re-examine your algorithms for selecting those links.

                                      1 Reply
                                      1. re: Melanie Wong

                                        There's also a plural "chowhounds" tag page which has totally irrelevant links.

                                      2. Why is time not considered an element of "relevance"?

                                        Sorting search results by relevance should take some account
                                        of the age of posts. This is the restaurant business. You're
                                        only as good as your last review. Searching for "brunch berkeley"
                                        sorted by relevance shouldn't turn up an eight-year-old post at
                                        position three. (And nevermind that that number three result is
                                        about a restaurant which is not in berkeley and not about brunch
                                        at all).


                                        1 Reply
                                        1. re: Chuckles the Clone

                                          FA Right! We've always had issues with really ancient, stale topics being bumped and with the new search 'engine' it seems to be getting worse.

                                        2. I don't get it at all. Is this "tags" thing leftover from some
                                          let's-be-like-facebook management directive checklist from
                                          two or three years back? What problem is it trying to solve?

                                          "Step 3" gets a tag but not steps 1 and 2?


                                          "Kiss on the lips" but not "sex on the beach" even though they
                                          appear next to each other in the one actually germane post?

                                          1. This new search engine is really haywire. It's returning results that have NONE of the desired search terms.

                                            Could I suggest that instead of wasting my time looking at pages that do not have the desired information, the results page should say that there are no matches but these xxx pages may be of interest? That would tell me to refine my search terms to do a new search or look at the suggested pages. The difference is that it is then my choice, rather than users trusting this site and then having it steer us wrong. Broken trust is hard to regain.

                                            1. OR is provided but not NOT ???

                                              That pretty much guarantees uselessness.

                                                1. re: Chuckles the Clone

                                                  Are there contextual recs on any message board pages? I'm not seeing any.

                                                  1. re: Melanie Wong

                                                    They are not there yet because of the performance/stability issues we were experiencing. We will be adding them as soon as those issues are resolved.

                                                    1. re: JustineR

                                                      JustineR, we haven't heard a peep out of you for two weeks. Any updates to report?

                                                      1. re: Melanie Wong

                                                        The engineering team's first priority the past several weeks has been to address the site stability problems we were experiencing, and they have made good progress with that. They have also been fixing many of the bugs noted in this this thread, and those are slated for a release next week. I will itemize what those fixes are early next week and post an update.

                                                        Thanks for your continued feedback.

                                                        1. re: JustineR

                                                          Thank you, would be good to see the list of fixes, I'll watch for it.

                                                          1. re: JustineR

                                                            Appreciate the update, Justine. Looking forward to checking out the new release.

                                                  2. I just tried searching for the Place record for Orchard Farms,

                                                    The search engine can't find it if I use Orchard Farm without the ending "s" as the search term.

                                                    7 Replies
                                                      1. re: Melanie Wong

                                                        i am seeing the Orchard farm/orchard farms search working- returning the correct result as the first result on both searches. Can you let me know what exact path you are following so we can replicate the issue?

                                                        1. re: JustineR

                                                          I've just tried it again, and the problem may not be the "s".

                                                          Searching from the Places hub for the SF Bay Area,
                                                          http://www.chow.com/places/regions/1 , neither spelling pops up. But clicking the "search" box again on the results page will pop it up.

                                                          Then searching from the SF Bay Area message board index, my recent post on Orchard Farms does not show up. But that might be related to the long lag time before new content is indexed or whatever is causing that lag.

                                                          1. re: Melanie Wong

                                                            - Yes, the places region searches are broken, engineers are working on fixing those now.

                                                            - Posts are supposed to be indexed every 5 minutes, so I'm not sure why that post is not showing up. We'll test this further to ensure that it's working as it should.

                                                            1. re: JustineR

                                                              Here's my post about the lag.

                                                              Now I'm using "Picazo" as a test search term. it's a new restaurant in Sonoma that we just started talking about yesterday. A Place record and thread started yesterday and I'm not able to find either with the search engine.

                                                              1. re: Melanie Wong

                                                                "Picazo" in Sonoma has shown up in search now. Two-day lag.

                                                              2. re: JustineR

                                                                Places records have been indexing within an hour. However, tonight they've not been updated on the SF hub for more than 3 hours. Is it turned off "overnight"?

                                                        2. I don't know what the deal is, but not only is search badly broken, but you've done something so that Google can't find stuff either.




                                                          1 Reply
                                                          1. re: Robert Lauriston

                                                            beta.chowhound.com and chowhound.chow.com both point to the same ip address; so technically, that first result in the google search is the same page as your first link. If you replace "chowhound.com" with "chow.com" in your google search url, the right thing happens. Though that shouldn't be necessary.

                                                            Maybe putting all the place info under places.chowhound.com and creating a CNAME record for places.chow.com pointing to it would make this less hopelessly nuts?

                                                            Of course, CNET are the people who brought us the ".com.com" abomination, so spiffy use of DNS may not be likely .... :)

                                                          2. Still having issues with the search - when doing an advanced search with the newest option set it does not seem to be picking up the newest entries - for instance doing a search on the word kosher does not pull the newest sntry -

                                                            1. Search is really buggy. When you do a search and get back pages of results, you can only view the first page. If you click on 2 or Next, you get a "zero results" page. Also, the search results run right off the width of the page (see attached screenshot). When will these issues be addressed?

                                                              1. Another minor bug showing lack of QA - topic summaries in search results show 'Last Updated By' followed by a list of ALL posters. Duh.

                                                                The only 'contextual' recommendations that I've seen that look OK are in the Recipes area - when viewing one of my salsa recipes the Related column looks quite relevant.

                                                                1 Reply
                                                                1. re: DiveFan

                                                                  Edit on this topic isn't working for me, so.....

                                                                  I'll add that I REALLY, REALLY miss being able to search by title only e.g. title:something

                                                                  What the Heck were the so-called designers thinking?

                                                                2. Just wanted to add my howls of frustration. Once more, Chow has "improved" the site by making it unusable.

                                                                  1. Advanced Search seems to be broken again - when doing an advanced search sorting by newest the data eems to be 24 hours old -

                                                                    3 Replies
                                                                    1. re: weinstein5

                                                                      10 days later and still problems with search not refreshing properly - any status on fixing this?

                                                                      1. re: weinstein5

                                                                        Are you seeing this problem intermittently or consistently? I have not been able to replicate it-- I am finding things appearing after 5 minutes, which is what should be happening. can you give me an example of something that is not refreshing and i will investigate? Thanks.

                                                                        1. re: JustineR

                                                                          It does seem to be working now - I noticed tis two days ago but wante dto give it a day or two - bascally the behavior was doing a search say on the word 'kosher' it would fetch the results and when sorted newest first the records would be any where form a few hours old to days -

                                                                    2. I'm not sure if I'm doing something wrong or if this is not yet a feature but is there a way to see the recipes I've posted under MyChow? Thanks!!

                                                                      5 Replies
                                                                      1. re: Demandrea

                                                                        Demandrea, do you mean recipes you've posted on the Member Recipes board?

                                                                        If so, yes, there's a way to see all the recipes you've put on the that board - click on MyChow, then click on Favorites. They should be saved at the very top in a section called "My Recipes".

                                                                            1. re: Chris VR

                                                                              I had to go look at that - that is just BRILLIANT, Demandrea!

                                                                              1. re: LindaWhit

                                                                                Hi- I just saw the compliments on the Dalek Cake- THANK YOU!!

                                                                      2. I did sort of a back entry search today for a restaurant, rather than opening Restaurants & Bars. This search field is basic: It has a place to enter a name and then a location entry place. I put in mexican and 06511and it did nothing. I entered new haven and same thing. Same for new haven, CT.
                                                                        I went to Restaurants & Bars search format and it immediately popped up many mexican restaurants, but Baja's Mexican Restaurant wasn't there. It's in Orange, a few feet from New Haven, CT. It's been there for years.
                                                                        It also won't search by zip code. I thought it was supposed to?

                                                                        1 Reply
                                                                        1. re: Scargod

                                                                          We're highlighting this bug in the Restaurants & Bars search format here,