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Mar 18, 2009 03:57 PM

Places Hub Search Snafu

Typing a search term in the Places hub (e.g., ) search box, the results have in the past only shown Place records for that hub. Now it returns results from the boards, and all over. Could you please return it so that it shows only Place records for the desired region? Thanx.

ETA: the resulta now are nonsensical. For "cuisine:turkish", which in the past would have spilled out all the restaurants tagged as Turkish in the SF Bay Area places database, now shows 10 board threads that have the words "turkish cuisine" in them. Argh!

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  1. Yes, I have found this problem as well. Very frustrating!

    edited to add - also when you click on "See all" in hub, you don't see all, something completely different comes up about search terms, etc (at least on the Ontario board).

    16 Replies
    1. re: JamieK

      Yep, I just tried it from the whole shebang and clicking on see all renders a bunch of garbage instead of a list of every record by newest first sort order.

      It is deeply disturbing to me that tagged fields for cuisine and neighborhood no longer work. I hope this is an oversight to be corrected in the next pass. Otherwise, the thousands of hours that chowhounds volunteered to fill in those field, at the request of CHOW management, have been lost.

      There are so few tools for monitoring what's going on in Places, and using the specific search from the hubs was one of them. It has been a pain in the ass to stay on top of needless duplicate records, and now one of the few methods for doing so is gone.

      1. re: Melanie Wong

        Thanks for your feedback, we will fix these issues as soon as possible.

        1. re: JustineR

          Could you pls let Roxanne Webber know that she created this duplicate Places record?

          Just in case she was using it for publication. I imagine that she couldn't find the original post-search engine changes.

          1. re: Melanie Wong

            Hi Melanie--

            Thanks for letting me know. That was indeed created as I was working on SF Digest and having some tech issues with places, so it's a huge help to get the heads up!

            Roxanne Webber
            Associate Editor,

            1. re: Melanie Wong

              Ditto for this duplicate of Le Bernardin in New York, entered by another Chow staffer ...

              1. re: squid kun

                Check this out: 6,150 duplicate places indexed by google that turn up any time someone tries to find any of these restaurants. Think that looks bad?

                1. re: Melanie Wong

                  What a mess!

                  Just imagine how that translates into wasted time: by those site users who entered thousands of venues that were already in the database but that the search didn't reveal, and also those who cleaned up afterward, flagging the duplicates.

                  And I don't even want to think about the dozens, maybe hundreds, of additional dupes that have slipped by unnoticed since the latest search "enhancements." Anyone have an ETA for the next release?

                  In the meantime, some comic relief: I see we're being asked to vote for Chow in the Webbys. [Insert punch line here.]

                  Seriously, though, shouldn't chronic technical dysfunction on this scale automatically disqualify a site from that kind of recognition? For this voter it sure does.

                  1. re: squid kun

                    Make that thousands of dupes not flagged. Two days later the google count is up to 6,320, and we know that google doesn't index everything.

                    In fact, before the new search engine debacle wiped out the Places search functionality, I compared the number of records created vs. the number of live records. I assumed that the number of records created was equal to the current url number of the newest record, at that time about 48000. However, the overall number of live place records was about 15% less than that or approximately 41,000. That means that about 7,000 records had been removed, presumably as duplicates. Given that most of the attention to duplicates is on the NY boards, Ontario, Boston, and SF, there are considerably more that haven't been flagged. I bet there are a huge number for LA. By my own eyeball, I'd say that SF was generating about 30% dupes in new record creation. The ratio has increased since the search engine change to be in excess of 50%. The impact of these bugs is getting worse, and i'd say the unidentified dupes still out there is probably as many as have been flagged to date.

                    In another thread, JustineR, product manager, said that Places would be looked at in a few months. Haven't heard a peep out of her about anything else since then, not even on the main search function.

                    I think that part of the reason for inaction on management's part is that volunteers like you and JamieK have been cleaning up the mess. Since it doesn't cost anything, there's no direct cost incentive to fix it.

                    1. re: Melanie Wong

                      > Make that thousands of dupes not flagged.

                      That bad, hm? Funny, I originally wrote just "hundreds," then hedged it downward. One X factor is records added with no region, i.e. "Other." They used to be viewable (and flaggable) if one hit "See all," but not since the latest search engine changes.

                      I was aware of the widening gap between the URLs and the number of live records, and figured it reflected duplicates. If the percentage of newly created dupes now tops 50%, that's way worse than I thought.

                      > I think that part of the reason for inaction on management's part is that volunteers like you and JamieK have been cleaning up the mess. Since it doesn't cost anything, there's no direct cost incentive to fix it.

                      The natural next question: Should we all just take a break from flagging dupes? I'd be open to that, if it might make a difference.

                      Hate to do so for a number of reasons, chiefly that the venues most often entered as dupes are the ones most often mentioned on the boards - and thus most likely to be edited or linked by users. And duplicate records (as you well know) fatally undercut the usefulness of a wiki database like Places.

                      Also, I'm not convinced that management would be prodded into action by an explosion in creation of duplicate place records. The persistence of these bugs suggests that fixing Chow is just not a priority for the owner.

                      1. re: squid kun

                        Management doesn't care about the zillion duplicates in there now. Why should they care about more.

                        One other impact of all of this and the lousy, damnable search, is that i've pretty much lost interest in keeping Place records up. I've slowed down considerably. After all I've been told that it is just fine with Chow that Places is just used as a GPS. And since that is the case, no one would care about duplicates. No matter what you do duplicate or not, you achieve the purpose of returning an address.

                        I personally am cringing if there are any changes. I envision years of work being wiped out.

                        This is just such a shame. Even Goggle is no longer bringing up Chow very often when searching on a restaurant, thereby missing more traffic to this site. If this had been fixed years ago, Places would have been a really sweet feature.

                        Since the sticky for Places has been removed I assume there is no further interest in it.

                        I just don't understand. There are so many people donating free time to try to make this a quality feature and that is just wasted.

                        1. re: rworange

                          I'm not sure what you mean by 'the sticky has been removed'?

                          There is further interest in Places, and they're currently working on finding ways to help people distinguish between 'this is a review of X' and 'this is just a link to X'.

                          I wish we had more resources so we could do more things more quickly, but they're just not there.

                        2. re: squid kun

                          Fixing Places can't come soon enough. The current google count of records marked as duplicates is 7,780, less than 8 weeks later. What a bother.

              2. re: JustineR

                Thanks, Justine.

                In the meantime, is there some other way to see new (and newly updated) place records beyond the 20 most recent? Before the change I used to do so from this page - - and hit "See all" to read older entries. But as Jamie and Melanie note, that no longer works.

                Also: is there any way to see new place records entered with no region, i.e. "Other"?

                1. re: squid kun

                  Basicallly, the regional hubs and the "all" Places hub no longer act like hubs. And that's quite a loss of functionality.

              3. re: Melanie Wong

                I so agree, re monitoring for duplicates. I find just doing a search for the bare-minimum (# and name) street address rather than the name of the restaurant of an new entry will bring up surprising results since people enter the name of restaurant in many different ways.

                But still the search has to work properly. Thanks Justine!

                1. re: JamieK

                  Just tried doing a phone number search, and no results, even though there are at least two records with the phone number in that format. We need phone number search, for checking dupes, and because as Robb S has found, that's one of the ways of finding records for restaurants in Japan with non-romanized names.

            2. Has a new system been implemented? Is this more than just a snafu?

              I deliberately inserted words like "private" and numbers like "up to 50" or "seats 20" in my places additions so it would be easy to search and find, say, a private room that seats 20.

              Now when I search a figure or a specific word on Ontario Restaurants, I get 16,000 results from all of chow instead of a few results from the Ontario places hub.

              3 Replies
              1. re: JamieK

                Here's the announcement about the search changes,

                Now the search results page denotes "Places" as "Restaurants". Elsewhere on the site, Places is referred to as "Restaurants and Bars". This is just making for more confusion and is poor design and branding.

                1. re: Melanie Wong

                  HI, Melanie - thanks, I did find the announcement sometime last night. And while I acknowledge the change in names, I still refer to "places" and "hub" while in the tech board because it's easier and I figure you all know what I'm talking about anyway.


                  1. re: JamieK

                    Jamie, my comments on nomenclature were meant to point out inconsistency in the site design and I meant no criticism of you. As you can see by my title, I do too.

                    Management has said it doesn't know what "Places" should or could be (it's only been around for two years) and calling it multiple names is another indicator of the lack of focus and purpose. When the site redesign launched several of us pointed out the multiple names for the same tool was foolish, and now a third term is in use that will further confuse users. Dumb idea to not pick a name and stick with it.