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How to encourage tourist or first time hound to use the search function on Chowhound?

I have been contributing to the Japan, Beijing, Shanghai, Hong Kong, Macau, Singapore, Jakarta Boards over the past few years. Regular hounds have made much contribution to review and discuss many restaurants, food topics and dining scene, so the use of search function on above right hand corner would have helped any reader to do research on any topic over the past many years.

Unfortunately, many of the regular contributors are tired of tourists, first time hound or even old timers to treat the board as it is a free concierge service. Instead of making use of the search function to do some research on the topic before asking more specific question, we do get regularly posts that are repeating commonly discussed subjects, such as "where should I eat?", "where is the best sushi?", "where is the best dim sum?", "please recommend best restaurant..." etc.

Most of the time, we just shake our heads, left those threads unanswered and moved on. A few would repeatedly ask them to do some "research" first. But it is getting tiring and irritating to read these posts.

Can anyone think of any way to encourage new users to use search function to "research" more on common topics?

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  1. I would appreciate it if the mods would delete or lock some of the posts. The Japan board is suffering because of all the lazy posters. People have resorted to recommending the worst restaurants in Japan just to mock them. I don't always know if they realize they're being ridiculed for posting a question that has been answered in a thread three inches down the page, but I don't really care any more.

    1. I am drafting a Japan specific "First time poster FAQ" that we can attach as a sticky note to the Japan board that will answer common logistic questions and make suggestions about utilizing site functionality to get the most out of the CH experience. Hope to finish and post it by the end of the week. Regulars will be suggested to add additional comments.

      7 Replies
      1. re: Silverjay

        >> I am drafting a Japan specific "First time poster FAQ" that we can attach as a sticky note to the Japan board that will answer common logistic questions and make suggestions about utilizing site functionality to get the most out of the CH experience. Hope to finish and post it by the end of the week. Regulars will be suggested to add additional comments.

        Yes, a stickied topic is the way to do it. Many of the boards have a stickied topic titled "New to the XXX Board? Read This First". You can see an example in the Chicago Area forum at http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/563288

        These stickied topics have been created by the Chowhound Team. My recollection is that they first created a topic to which everyone contributed comments, suggestions, and write-ups to be included, but they actually created the stickied topic itself, presumably to prevent it from running off on a tangent (or, worse, flames). Perhaps they can assist with doing so for the Japan forum...?

        1. re: nsxtasy

          This is a great idea. Why doesn't the Chowhound Team does that to every board? Not just Japan, but "China & SE Asia" needs it too...

        2. re: Silverjay

          Well, I HAD been working on a very Japan specific FAQ off and on, but seem to have deleted it between my biz and personal computers. It's gone. I'll have to rewrite it, but not happening this week.

          1. re: Silverjay

            Sorry, I do need to finish writing FAQs for the International boards, as the North American boards have them already. I need to make some tweaks to the format to fit the International boards and I haven't done that yet.

            1. re: Jacquilynne

              What I drafted was very specific to Japan, as there are certain peculiarities to restaurant research and dining there- as I'm sure is the case in many other countries. I had used your format as a basis though. I plan to take another crack at it soon.

              1. re: Silverjay

                Drop me an email at jacquilynne.schlesier@cbs.com when you've got some time to look at this again and we can work together on it. I'm happy to work with you on getting the details right, since I've not been to Japan and am not familiar with its idiosyncracies, but I'm going to want to post the actual sticky topic myself for various reasons.

                1. re: Jacquilynne

                  Sounds like a plan. Thanks for getting involved.

        3. either ignore or politely explain it to them.

          misleading them only turns CH to shit

          1 Reply
          1. re: thew

            My first two years as hound: I politely explain it to them, and sometimes even copy and paste old threads to them.

            Subsequently two years: ignore them.

            Now: hope to change their behavior or simply go back to ignore them.

          2. Today, the search box in the header is hidden to most users who go to a specific board and scroll past the Chowhound header and advertising clutter to get to the thread list.

            Simple way to encourage searching is to replace the red [ADD NEW POST] button (on left side of page ... just below board name) with a red [SEARCH THIS BOARD] button.

            The [Add New Post] button could be moved over to the right side of the page ... just below board name.

            New visitors may be more inclined to search - if the button's right there for them.

            7 Replies
            1. re: Foody4life

              Good idea--I don't think most new posters are aware of the Search. Put it next to the "post" and they're bound to see it. Even more, when your cursor goes over the "Post" button, it could say, "Did you try Search first?" or something to that effect.

              The most annoying recently was someone who demanded to be told where the "good food"in the area was--as if that weren't what the entire board is. I don't know if people are too lazy to look and want others to do the work for them or what the disconnect is.

              1. re: Foody4life

                God yes, move that search to the left side of the page. Howevver I'd leave the add a post button on the left as well, otherwise then there will be the problem of people not seeing how to post.

                Despite having put together guides and lists for the SF area which also gets tons of repetitive questions, I'm going to defend people who don't search.

                When you are really familiar with a board, it seems simple to just say search. However, I've moved once and traveled a bit and even after nine years I find using search is difficult to find the info you want.

                The sticky is great and I hope your board gets it. It has been wonderful on the SF board.

                Let me caution that it is wonderful NOT because anyone reads it initially. However as a poster, you can say ... "Check out the great suggestions at the top of the board for searching and then come back with some ideas about where you would like to eat and you'll get more input" ... or something along those lines.

                Lists is a great function if you want to put your own favorites together and don't wan't to repeat the same thing over and over. Here's my SF list.

                Vistining SF, eat like a local not a tourist

                I did include a link to the sticky in there. Also, lists can be changed at any time. There's not two hour limit. I've been away from SF about a year, so the above needs some updating which will be easy to do when I return.

                And ... as someone said ... you don't need to answer them. If it is a chore, just ignore.

                And a, um +1, for not putting misinformation on the board to ridicule the query or be snarky. That will ruin it for anyone who does try to search the board on their own and make Chowhound a less credible site ... AND ... you a less credible poster.

                1. re: Foody4life

                  Good idea to re-position the search box but I doubt Chowhound will do that based on our suggestion.

                  1. re: FourSeasons

                    making the SEARCH box more obvious would be simpler (I feel so rude posting " hey jerko 12 people have asked that in the last month, ever heard of keywords?" just comes off wrong no matter how I word it)

                    whatever the mods may do on the next re-vamp, there will always be the clueless and lazy few. I just ignore them largely anymore unless they've expressly done some effort and have a specific detail in question (or I'm in a rare good mood)

                    1. re: FourSeasons

                      I'm not a web developer, but something like this on each board would probably help first timers

                      1. re: Foody4life

                        couldn't hurt and would be a lot simpler than the rest of us digging up links to the exact same question posted last week (still gonna happen, but...)

                        and the mods are reading this thread (see above re Int'l sticky FAQ's - so who knows.

                        1. re: Foody4life

                          That's a big improvement. Though I am a computer Luddite par excellence, I have always been able to find and use the search box on any website I've ever read. I do think it's more a matter of initiative vs. laziness rather than any inherent difficulty in using the search function. Maybe in addition to your relocated button, an arrow pointing at it, captioned "Look here, Chowhole!" ??? ;-P

                    2. Using NJ's Board as an example the Sticky Topic for newcomers is too wordy and the Search Function suggestions should be first and include the link that takes CH directly to the Search Board area.

                      How to BEST use the Search function would be very good "sticky" detail to include. Some CH's have "cracked the code" on how to use this wonky search function but most CH's can't be bothered. Streamline it!

                      The physical placement of the Search Board could be more visable on every page of CH. How would you intrepret the importance of Search if it was listed far right in tiny print?

                      1. Aversion therapy in the form of a mild electric shock.

                        4 Replies
                        1. re: small h

                          oh but ECT isn't always aversive, but sometimes inducive...

                          1. re: hill food

                            Ok, then maybe a shrill, car alarm-like sound that shrieks "Search! Wheeet! Search! Wheeet! Search!" whenever anyone types the words "theater district" or "best pizza." (That's just for the Manhattan board. Other boards can adjust accordingly.)

                            1. re: small h

                              Exactly why I always keep my sound turned off on my computer... ;-D>

                              1. re: Servorg

                                FIne. For you, my friend, strobe lights.

                        2. As a sometime user of Chowhound, I think that a lot of people just want to sample a few "Best of" lists compiled by reputable posters. These are not easy to track down in the Search function. Is there a way to make some of those available? I love rworange's list below, for example, but how do I find it if I'm from Toronto and want to eat well in SF?

                          10 Replies
                          1. re: redchair

                            redchair: I too like a lot of rwo's posts, but all one has to do is click on the user name and see the latest. 10 years ago and I woulda been learning something, but in 2011 it's like teaching your toddler how to use a 1954 phonebook.

                            1. re: redchair

                              I would really, really appreciate CHOW facilitating creation of some "best of lists" . or a better geographical locating tool. Look, these Boards just arent that easy to search, even for those of us who have been here forever. I was looking for a place on the Lower East Side the other week, and it took a really long time. Yes the boards are a mother lode of great info, but the mapping function is fairly useless and the search logic is fairly bad, meaning info is hard to come at. Likewise, if I am in a city for a day or two, findiing information to make a judgement on about what is good and worth seeking out for my 1 or 2 meals is quite hard. So pity the poor tourists when even we cant always extract the info we need.

                              1. re: jen kalb

                                The question would be, who will make sure that the lists stay current and who is going to be vetting the places that go onto the lists? Since we are a "user" content generated site that sort of static list would seem to be both beyond our reach and more importantly, useless in a short amount of time probably.

                                What makes Chowhound so valuable is the up to the minute information and the depth of the reports by a lot of food obsessed hounds.

                                1. re: Servorg

                                  "The question would be, who will make sure that the lists stay current and who is going to be vetting the places that go onto the lists?"

                                  I'll bet if the mods asked for volunteers some long standing posters would step up. Their judgments would reflect a well established consensus. The lists could be revised every 6 to 12 months and the volunteers could rotate after a year.

                                  It wouldn't be a perfect system but it would be a hell of a lot better than what we have now.

                                2. re: jen kalb

                                  <the mapping function is fairly useless and the search logic is fairly bad>

                                  Yes. So here's what I do: map on Yelp, search on Chowhound. If I know I'm going to want to be within 4 blocks of, say, Essex & Delancey, I search that radius on Yelp. Then I look for the restaurants that interest me on Chowhound.

                                  But in truth, the Chow search isn't that bad. As an experiment, I searched for an inexpensive dinner on the Lower East Side. I searched for "lower east side" and got 187 results. Too many! So I added the term "inexpensive." Now I'm down to 35, which is pretty manageable. But maybe even that is too much to sift through. So I subtracted "brunch." 24 results. And a quick scan of the thread titles let me eliminate even more - market (don't care), tour (don't care), near Sheraton (how'd that even get in there?).

                                  Of course, this means you actually have to know what you're searching for. But if you do, you can find it.

                                  1. re: jen kalb

                                    Lists was supposed to be that tool -- not for canonical, official, annointed lists, but just for people to generate their own lists of, say, 'not horrible places to eat in Times Square' and 'thing to eat in Denver when you're dead'. Unfortunately the initial release was technically difficult to use and so it didn't catch on as a tool or get further love and attention from our Engineering team.

                                    Rworange did a great job of putting together a collection of interesting lists about the Bay Area, and it's unfortunate that we're not able to give them more prominence.

                                    1. re: Jacquilynne


                                      I find this list on the New Jersey board very valuable. No it doesn't answer the frequent "where the best pizza, hot dog, sush or _____" questions, but it is a good reference to good chow!

                                      Hopefully this becomes an annual event for the NJ board (and on other boards if someone volunteers or CHOW decides to support).

                                      Also, would be great to have it as a sticky at the top of the NJ board. Thanks.

                                      1. re: Foody4life

                                        We don't want to annoint any list or thread as 'official' or sticky it for a few reasons:

                                        A poll or a 'best of' list doesn't really capture the nuances of what makes restaurants good or bad -- some restaurants serve one amazing dish and a some random stuff you wouldn't want to eat. That doesn't meant they aren't worth going to for that amazing dish.

                                        A poll is probably out of date by the time it's completed. Restaurants open, restaurants close, restaurants get better or worse, change menus, change staff, etc.

                                        There's no full consensus or real agreements in poll-based lists -- many people will disagree with the choices for valid reasons. And which restaurants are on the list has as much to do with which restaurants people have actually been to as which are particularly good.

                                        It's fine if people want to conduct those polls, but they shouldn't be taken as gospel.

                                3. As a newcomer to CH, I find the "board discussions" list underneath a thread I'm reading to be very useful.

                                  2 Replies
                                  1. re: harryrodgers

                                    unfortunately you're in the minority of people who notice or bother to look at that list. many posters (both new and not-so-new) seem to be oblivious to its existence...which is too bad, because it really can be helpful.

                                    1. re: harryrodgers

                                      I think that list of relevant threads is a great innovation with superior search logic.
                                      But people who just drop in and post their questions without reading any threads will never see it.
                                      Love it best when people complain that there has been no discussion of a place lately (really??) and a list of relevant threads is sitting right below their statement.

                                    2. This is quite a tricky one to take sides on. As a regular on the Paris, London and Sydney boards (all places I lived) I also get irritated by these types of questions and often suggest a search. But as a regular traveler and a newly arrived resident in HK it isn't that easy when you are new to a board....!

                                      Take my move to HK. I do want to ask the "best of" question because when I try and search the "best dim sum" for example lots of the info is really old and possibly out of date. Often these "easy" topics bore the regulars so they new finds don't turn up in a search which prompts the need for a question.

                                      I am looking forward to a "how to use" guide for Japan/Tokyo because I gave up trying to make sense of the recommendations on the board.

                                      Maybe each board needs an intro set of essays from some of the key contributors, maybe some essays that take different perspectives and opposing views would help, the essays would be along the lines of "must not miss in HK" or the "Top 20 gastro experiences" . Obviously it is an effort to keep them current but some kind souls may see it as a valuable contribution. The value of this over a guide book, blog magazine article is you can back track through posts to get a feel for the tastes and style of the contributors, and see how they respond to debate (blogs tend to be one way traffic and too much fan mail).

                                      4 Replies
                                      1. re: PhilD

                                        agreed. i used to go to san francisco often. but now it's been about 7 years, and the food scene has changed there. i'm going next month, so i've been reading the boards, but it's hard to get the exact type of places i'm looking for, easily. the info is there, but hard to pry out. it would come to me more easily if i were to make a thread that delineated exactly what I want to experience.

                                        1. re: thew

                                          I don't think anyone would have an objection to a very specific, well-worded question.

                                          This one is very specific.

                                        2. re: PhilD

                                          This is a good example of why regulars shouldn't be put out seeing the same questions over and over. As I said earlier, I find unfamiliar boards difficult to search.

                                          Essays ... nah. Especially in big cities, food is just too changing. Having done essys, guides, lists, etc ... not only is it time consuming but it goes stale faster than breakfast biscuits.

                                          Those stickies at the top of the page are useful not only in telling visitors how to search, but how to frame questions to get good replies when they do ask on the board.

                                          What would be nice and helpful is if the restaurant and bars database really worked. This could be such an amazing resource for people who really want to begin their searches and those who could care less and just want a rec.

                                          Unfortunately a lot of Chowhounds are turned off by the idea and don't use it. If they did, it would help cut down repetative questions.

                                          And it just doesn't work as well as it did. . It was changed and its usefullness evaporated as far as getting info from the boards. Still, it can be VERY useful if maintained and used in a way to make up for the current problems.

                                          First of all there's a list of highly rated restaurants.

                                          Except for one place the shills seemed to have sucked onto (email to mods will be sent), all of those places are reliable.

                                          When you click on more, you get additional highly rated restaurants ... which again, are mainly reliable
                                          http://www.chow.com/search?query=&amp... Francisco&search_board_id=1&type=Restaurant&sort_mode=highest_rated

                                          I have no clue how "Hot Topic" gets determined by the software, but ignore that because they are NOT hot topics.

                                          Click on a restaurant ... in this case a SF restaurant called Commis

                                          This could be a lot more helpful, but even so, Chowhounds tired of the repetitive questions could use this record to answer them.

                                          1. GOOD TO KNOW section

                                          I use this to do a brief overview ... YES, I CAN be brief when it counts ... so people have a idea of what the restaurant is about and any special tips.

                                          At one time search listed the first few lines of this section. That was helpful because people looking for restaurant info could get a feel for what the restaurant was about beyond "Chinese", "Deli", etc from the search list.. In the past the search entry for Commis would have looked like this

                                          Commis $$$
                                          ***** 3 Ratings, 97 Discussions.
                                          (510) 653-3902 - 3859 Piedmont Avenue, Oakland, CA 94611
                                          Chef James Syhabout earned a Michelan star only mnoths after opening the 31-seat Commis.

                                          You could decide if you wanted to click on that restaurant and read more. Unfortunately that last line was removed from the list. It is a real drag to have to click on each name to see if there is more info about the joint.

                                          Also, depending on how you search, you may or may not even get what type of cuisine is served from the search list. In the case of Commis, there's only the neighborhood.

                                          2. QUICK REVIEWS section

                                          You can enter something from the restaurant page. In certain sections of the US and, I believe, Italy, you can hook your post to this section from your post. Unfortunately most Chowhounds don't use this feature

                                          3. DIG DEEPER section

                                          In the past, this section really did have relavant reviews and was gutted making it no more useful, even less, than the search function.

                                          4. REVIEWS AROUND THE WEB section

                                          For those tired of the repetative questions, keeping this section updated would be much more useful than lists, etc.

                                          I use it to
                                          a. Hook to really good reviews and info around the web
                                          b. Add significant reports as they come up so if someone asks about a restaurant I can just put the link to the restaurant record.

                                          So, even in its less than optimal state, the restaurant record can used as a powerful tool to address visitors questions. Anyone interested ...

                                          1. Make sure you enter a rated review, so the better restaurants appear at the top of the search list and you can just provide the restaurant search link.

                                          2. Use the other sections on the restaurant record to provide useful info

                                          I'm not just a crank about the problems with this database. Neither are the other posters who for whatever reason try to keep this section of the site current. We all recognize the potential here.

                                          Still .... that being said ... IMO, the purpose of Chowhound, what really makes it useful, is being to ask about what is CURRENTLY the best and not having to search for what was great a year or even a month ago.

                                          I find even the most repetative topic offers up some new perspective ... whether that is a place that hasn't been mentioned before, some tip about the restaurant, or uphill or downhill reports.

                                          Don't be afraid to ask. It helps everyone.

                                          1. re: PhilD

                                            I take your point about it being hard to suss out the norms and rules of the different boards. I try to make my posts on regional boards outside of my home board as specific as possible. My goal is to show that I did at least some prior reading on the area before posting. The tourist posts that tend to irritate me are the really broad ones, which often conflate different areas and different cuisines with one another, and just come across as disrespectful.

                                          2. I find it hard to criticize people for failing to search a board when the search function is such an abomination. It ignores quotation marks, doesn't support Boolean operators, and by default only searches posts from the last year.

                                            Just today I was looking for a particular post on a particular restaurant; I knew exactly what I was looking for, but still - no dice. Fortunately there's Google - put in the search terms followed by a site limitation (site:chowhound.chow.com) and the results pop right up.

                                            If there's somebody in the community who has the time and inclination to make lists, that's by far the easiest way to respond to clueless requests. As noted above, rworange made a bunch of lists related to various kinds of food in the SF Bay Area, as well as a meta-list that helps to navigate them. Instead of ignoring a clueless question or telling the person to do a search or trying to re-invent the wheel, it's easy just to paste a link and be done. If the poster has more questions after reviewing that info, s/he can always come back and ask them.

                                            Of course, making lists requires a fair amount of work on somebody's part. But still, it's a great way to get good info to people while minimizing the frustration inherent in answering the same question over and over again.

                                            11 Replies
                                            1. re: alanbarnes

                                              The amusing thing is that most people don't even follow the link to the list I made up. Usually, people just want an easy answer and are happy to have someone tell them where to go (heh) rather than having to do any work to decide where to eat. Some just don't want too much info. Still I put it there for the handful that might use it and it saves me keystrokes and time from repeating the same recs.

                                              1. re: rworange

                                                At times when I link a thread (or more) to someone who is new (often depending on whether or not I see signs that this person has done some research before posting - even if their research wasn't on the CH site itself) I will add something to the effect of: "If you see some specific places that intrigue you in these threads and want more detailed information about any of them, please feel free to come back with those questions and post again."

                                                1. re: rworange

                                                  Naked recommendations fall into the "give a man a fish" category. Your list is more akin to teaching a man to fish - it's useful information, and whether the recipient chooses to utilize it doesn't reflect on you one way or the other. But disparaging comments about using the search function are more along the lines of "go jump in the lake."

                                                  1. re: alanbarnes

                                                    alan, to me it's more of a "jump in and join us" invitation

                                                2. re: alanbarnes

                                                  >> I find it hard to criticize people for failing to search a board when the search function is such an abomination. It ignores quotation marks

                                                  Not true; it does NOT ignore quotation marks. If you don't use quotation marks and you search on:

                                                  spoon thai

                                                  it will give you 33 results, all of which contain either of those two words. If you instead use quotation marks to search on

                                                  "spoon thai"

                                                  it will only give you the 24 results in which both those two words occur together, in that order, without any other words in between. (It's the name of a restaurant in Chicago.)

                                                  So you can use that to your advantage. If you're looking for the specific name of a restaurant with more than one word in the name, you're probably better off putting quotes around it, especially if the name consists of common English words, as in this example. If you're looking for a reference to a combination of two concepts, like Thai food in Andersonville, you're probably better off not using quotes when you search on those two words, so you can capture results with those words even when they don't appear together in that order.

                                                  1. re: nsxtasy

                                                    I know full well how to use quotes to my advantage. Problem is, they don't work on chowhound's search engine.

                                                    ETA: okay, that's weird. Earlier today I searched for a restaurant by its three-word name inside quote marks; the search returned over a hundred results - every post post that had any of the three words. Just now (to prove you wrong) I repeated the exact same search; now it only returns posts that contain the exact phrase.

                                                    1. re: alanbarnes

                                                      Not to defend the search function, but I do find it handy that I can search inside a single local board. I'm still trying to figure out how to do that with Google.

                                                      1. re: GraydonCarter

                                                        Put some part of the board name in your search. If searching for hot cross buns on the Washington DC & Baltimore boards, this would narrow things.

                                                        site:chowhound.chow.com hot-cross-buns Baltimore

                                                        I tend to do this when my initial Chowhound search doesn't turn up something I'm specifically looking for.

                                                        It is good to add /topics for board-wide searches also

                                                        Otherwise you wind up with lists, restaurants, stories, recipes and annoying search queries.

                                                        1. re: rworange

                                                          /topics - never thought of that. What a great way to limit extraneous results. Thanks.

                                                          1. re: alanbarnes

                                                            > /Topics

                                                            This no longer works for me. It is as if every page now has the "Choose a Board" selection in the top section set to "Expanded."

                                                            Typing "site:chowhound.chow.com hot-cross-buns Baltimore" will now produce every reference to hot-cross-buns because Baltimore is in the top section of every page.

                                                          2. re: rworange

                                                            Wow, it's pretty amazing how many people were looking for hot-cross-buns on the Washington DC / Baltimore boards.

                                                  2. a lot of people have mentioned the usefulness of sticky posts, and while i agree that the wealth of useful information they offer *theoretically* makes them the best place for newcomers to start, i think most people who come to CH looking for specific recommendations are so focused on their particular quest that they never even notice or take the time to read the stickies.

                                                    i've found myself redirecting a new poster to the appropriate sticky on many an occasion because they never saw it in the first place...and then of course there are the testy types who respond by telling me that they don't have time to read through all that information, and if i really want to help them i should just answer their question. harrumph!

                                                    1 Reply
                                                    1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                                                      >>"if i really want to help them..."<<

                                                      And that's the key question. Especially after a response like the one you described. For those who can't be bothered to read the ground rules, all I can say is "let them eat Applebee's."

                                                    2. Is the search really that hard to use? It's not the best, but I've never had too much difficulty finding specific threads.

                                                      What really irks me are the regular posters who really burrow into the minutia of something on their regular regional board, then get off that board and make posts like:

                                                      "Looking for the best [Food Item Vaguely Associated With the Region] in [Huge Area Spanning Hundreds of Miles and Containing Tens of Millions of People]".

                                                      19 Replies
                                                      1. re: Naco

                                                        >>> Is the search really that hard to use?

                                                        Yeah. Not counting forgetting to change the search criteria to more than a year, there is something fundamentally wrong with it. Being generous, I'd say aboutt 25% of my searches fail to locate what I am looking for. I have to then go to Google which has no problem finding the topic.

                                                        1. re: Naco

                                                          >> Is the search really that hard to use? It's not the best, but I've never had too much difficulty finding specific threads.

                                                          Neither do I; I find that it works perfectly (once you understand how it works, e.g. that "best match" looks for any of the words in titles first). The one-year criterion limits the search to recently updated topics, and if I want more, I can override it. If I fail to find what I'm looking for, 99 percent of the time, it's just not there (at least, not using the words I was searching on).

                                                          1. re: Naco

                                                            The search function is awful. There are a lot of threads that I know exist, and have searched for to point to for questions, and every time I try the search function and it's impossible, and then I just go to google and search for it there and find it. And that's when I'm using the right words to find that exact thread, I can only imagine how difficult it is when you don't know what you're looking for or are unfamiliar with the site.

                                                            1. re: JasmineG

                                                              Exactly. It is not a matter of not understanding how to search or how it works, the simple fact is it doesn't work a good chunk of the time. Like JasmineG, I absolutely know certain threads are out there .. so it's not a matter of generaically looking for something like "hot cross buns" or whatever. It is knowing there is a post out there for "hot cross buns" searching all years and that particular topic not appearing in the list. Going to Google manages to return the topic

                                                              Now if you are not looking for a specific post and enter that search criteria ... yes, you will get results ... but there will be many topics dropped from the search.

                                                              I'm just saying that if there was interest or an acknowledgement that there is a problem, I would be willing to post searches that fail.

                                                              You may be extremely lucky nsxtasy or you may be just doing generic searches and don't realize stuff is missing. Since it works ... generously speaking ... 75% of the time, it seems like it isn't something you experienced

                                                              1. re: rworange

                                                                >> It is knowing there is a post out there for "hot cross buns" searching all years and that particular topic not appearing in the list. Going to Google manages to return the topic

                                                                Can you please provide an example in which you search for something on Chowhound and it doesn't appear in the list of search results, even though the search text is in the topic?

                                                                1. re: nsxtasy

                                                                  It has been made really clear that search is not something Chow is interested in fixing or even thinks needs fixing. So, given that, I don't save search URL's that fail. What would be the point? I'd be happy to provide them if I thought it would help get the search problems resolved.

                                                                  If I think of it .. and can find this post in search (heh) ... I'll post a URL the next time it happens.

                                                                  However, I just can't remember and since I'd rather pull out one of my own teeth with a pair of pliers, I often use Google search first these days.

                                                                  However, alan's post about it not working and then going back to provide the url and it worked later, has me wondering if this is some sort of flaky error like the auto-playing video was .. sometimes it happened for unknown reasons. Nice to keep in the back of my mind, but if I need to search something, I want that info now, and not have to go back the next day or later in the afternoon and try again.

                                                                  1. re: rworange

                                                                    Maybe the Chowhound Team hasn't done anything about it because it's actually working properly, and they haven't had an example of a search that doesn't work. I'm not saying a search has never worked, but any time someone has provided an example that I've looked at, the search turns out to be working properly and there's a reason why a topic didn't show in the results. Sometimes it was older and they didn't override the 12 months default, sometimes the search text wasn't actually in the topic, etc. It's mysterious how people claim that "search doesn't work" or "search only works 75 percent of the time", yet no one seems to be able to provide a single repeatable example in which it truly doesn't work. If it weren't working it should be easy enough to provide an example. So stop by and post the example here if it happens again.

                                                                    1. re: nsxtasy

                                                                      I'm sure that, like for you, the way this function was tested works.

                                                                      If you enter something like "hot cross buns", you will get search results. Only not all the results every time. If not looking for a specific post, the ommissions are not noticed.

                                                                      As I mentioned, I'm willing to provide examples, and so are others. However, this topic has been brought up a number of times and the answer (or lack of answer) is that no one is interested.

                                                                      There are three reliable, tech-savy posters who have said this is a problem

                                                                      Personally, I know how to search, so despite your kind offer to help me figure out where I may be going wrong, I don't usually decide something is not working for me until I've done some exhastive testing. This is part of what I do for a living, software testing, black box, white box, and anything in between.

                                                                      While I'd be happy if search worked better on this site, since nothing is going to be done about it, there's Google.

                                                                      Yes, there are lots of inexperienced people who have problems with search and it is because they don't know how to use it. I'm not one of them and I don't think the other two posters who mentioned this problem are either.

                                                                      My experinece is that there is a 1 in 4 chance that search will not return everything I'm looking for.

                                                                      1. re: rworange

                                                                        I'm a software tester too. As a software tester, you undoubtedly know that computer systems do the same thing every time unless something is done differently by the user or something changes in the software programming. And you also know that sometimes something is done differently by the user, sometimes unintentionally and unconsciously. For example, in alanbarnes's example above, he said he got a lot of results when using the quotes, and then got none. How can that happen? Well, one way is that you can accidentally (and unknowingly) hit the enter key before you finish typing that second quote. It's easy to do because the enter key is the key right next to the double quote on the keyboard. When you do this, you THINK the search text was in quotes, but the search was operating as though it wasn't in quotes (because it wasn't when it was initiated by hitting the enter key). And it turns out that it's impossible to duplicate this example of the "search not working" because when you do it again, carefully, you don't accidentally hit the enter key. Maybe this isn't what alanbarnes did, but this is a perfect example of how someone can THINK that the search is not working (or not working consistently) when, in fact, it is indeed working as designed and intended.

                                                                        You claim your experience is that there is a 1 in 4 chance that search will not return everything you're looking for. Then surely you can do four searches for us and post the details about the one that didn't work; doing so will take you less time than it took to type your previous reply. If you can't do this, then sorry, your claim about a 1 in 4 chance turns out to be utterly untrue. It's easy enough to prove, with an example that doesn't work, and if it happens as often as you claim, it shouldn't be hard to come up with one. But if you can't, it's no wonder the Chowhound Team doesn't want to do anything when no one can provide a single actual example of the search not working!

                                                                        1. re: nsxtasy

                                                                          First of all, unless you are a member of the Chowhound Team, no one has invited me to provide examples.

                                                                          Even if Chow said they were interested, this is a matter of it happens when it happens. So in that case,
                                                                          - I'd use search more often on the site to shush out the problems
                                                                          - I'd report it as it happened during searches I really wanted to do.

                                                                          So, I don't see the point to me doing extra work of providing you personal examples ... again, unless you are a member of the engineering team ... in that case, I'm so on top of it.

                                                                          Let me repeat, when I've had failed searches, I try a number of times to see if any of the conditions you mention might have happened. They do not.

                                                                          1. re: rworange

                                                                            I am finding (so far), when I don't get the results I (think) I know are somewhere in the CH archives, that the problem is my search terms or the parameters I've set. Recently I tried to find a very old post I knew I had done, but it just wouldn't turn up. Only today did I find it, and realized that my lack of locating the post was because I had originally spelled the term I was looking for incorrectly, but was looking for it using the correct spelling. I probably never would have found the post, except for recalling another very specific term I had used and went back looking for that, which produced the post with the misspelled one.

                                                                            I think that results would be a whole lot better if the 1 year default was changed to all years. As long as you are going from newest to oldest that makes sense.

                                                                            1. re: Servorg

                                                                              It would be nice if there was an option for the default search on your profile. If you wanted all years, then it would be all years.

                                                                              I'm not saying all that doesn't happen to me ... spelling errors, hitting wrong keys, foregetting to change the date parameter, etc, etc.

                                                                              However, for the times when it bugs me enough to see if I'm the problem, I usually cut and paste my search from the Chowhound page into Google. Google finds it.

                                                                              I've gone backward as well. Can't find it on Chowhound. Go to Google. Find it .... hey, was it me? Cut search criteria from successful Google search into Chowhound ... nada.

                                                                              Acually, I've gone far beyond that testing-wise at times to confirm it wasn't me and to see if different search criteria will eventually turn up the missing info.

                                                                              Since I know nothing is going to be done, I don't spend time pondering why this might be software-wise.

                                                                              The one thing that would be helpful, in terms of spelling errors, would be if there was a "Do you mean?" option if the spelling is close.

                                                                              Even though it doesn't work well, there is that option when adding restaurant records. However, that one is pretty screwy. Sometimes not one single thing matches the restaraunt name entered and it will say a record exists, do I want to add another. The restaurant name that pops up, as the existing record, as I mentioned, has no matching words.

                                                                              1. re: rworange

                                                                                "Even though it doesn't work well, there is that option when adding restaurant records. However, that one is pretty screwy. Sometimes not one single thing matches the restaraunt name entered and it will say a record exists, do I want to add another. The restaurant name that pops up, as the existing record, as I mentioned, has no matching words."

                                                                                lol...But not so funny at times when I am cursing that particular "feature" ;-D> I have taken to going in to place link records and changing the name to make the place more findable. Someone may have inadvertently hyphenated the name for some reason, or they have misspelled some part of the name, or just plain gotten it wrong.

                                                                                Or sometimes it won't show because too many other places in the world exist by the same name. In that case I add the city or state or what have you, to differentiate the place from all the others of the same name.

                                                                                WAP's (work around plans) - They're not just for engineers anymore!

                                                                                1. re: Servorg

                                                                                  Solo yo en Guatemala ... and still the duplicate records. That being said, the override works just lovely.

                                                                                  And my secret for getting rejected street addresses into the database isn't for public knowledge. I'm afraid it will get "fixed" and I won't be able to do it anymore. Maybe when I leave GT ... maybe.

                                                                                  You know, realistically there's only so much that will be addressed or fixed ... so be it search or anything else, the best is to see if there is a workaround.

                                                                                2. re: rworange

                                                                                  Where I'm getting the duplicate record flag most often is for street address matches, not restaurant name. This comes up when there's a new restaurant that has taken over a spot that is in the database that has not yet been marked as "closed".

                                                                                  1. re: Melanie Wong

                                                                                    Thanks. That would explain most of the duplicates for restaurants located at the Oakland Mall in Guatemala City.

                                                                            2. re: nsxtasy

                                                                              I'm not sure why you don't believe that it doesn't work well for new visitors to the site, when a number of long time chowhounds say that it doesn't work for us. If we know how to work the site and how to do the search, and it's still problematic, then I can't even imagine how bad it is for those who are brand new to the site and are trying to figure out where to eat. If that's how the search was designed and intended on this site, then they intended for people to give up on searching, and just ask "Where is there good to eat in San Francisco?" questions.

                                                                          2. re: nsxtasy

                                                                            One nice thing about Google... I was searching for "Woodbridge" and it also returned "Woodbidge" as part of the search results.

                                                                            The CHOW search function depends upon the OP knowing how to spell correctly.

                                                                            1. re: GraydonCarter

                                                                              There's another problem w/ a restaurant like Oohs and Aahs, getting the spelling right (how many o's, how many h's), knowing if others have used the ampersand or spelled it out, whether they used apostrophe's.

                                                                2. I agree with the idea of moving the search box down to the forum/board level. Makes it obvious, especially for the newbie. I've been on CH for a while and I still look for the search box at times.

                                                                  Purposely, ignoring questions seems to annul the spirit of being a Chowhound.

                                                                  5 Replies
                                                                  1. re: dave_c

                                                                    Seriously, there's only so many times you can answer the same question. So it is better for people burnt out by repetative questions to just ignore them rather than giving snarky replies.

                                                                    Then there is damned if you do and damned if you don;t. Each query is new ... to that person. So I can answer for the 500th time that if someone MUST eat at Fisherman's Wharf in SF, then Scoma's would be a good choice ... or the best places in wine country are xxx ... there's only so many places there.

                                                                    This is true of the heavy tourist areas. Haven't been following NY recently. Are people still asking daily about Babbo, bagels and pizza?

                                                                    Answering over and over with the same info prompts complaints that the same people keep replying with the same answers ... even though to that particular poster the info may be a revelation.

                                                                    Damned if you do. Damned if you dont.

                                                                    So for those who enjoy answering at any particular time, answer. If it bugs you, don't.

                                                                    1. re: dave_c

                                                                      What do you mean? By default, it searches only on the board you're currently on.

                                                                      Anyway, I can but echo nsxstasy's comments. I haven't had problems with it.

                                                                      1. re: Naco

                                                                        I meant physically moving the search box from the Chowhound header down to the level of the board Title.

                                                                        For example, next to the title is "save this board", a button can be created to "search this board".

                                                                      2. re: dave_c

                                                                        It's probably also help if it actually said "search". I agree that it is not user-friendly, in any event.

                                                                        There are still going to be people who will show up and post about things that are already there. I moderate on a forum with a user-friendly search feature, a main page with a wealth of information etc. Yet there are people who will show up and either ask a question or post a news piece that not only is well covered, but often times very recently covered, as in two threads down the page, right in front of their eyes, sometimes prefacing with a "hope this is not already posted". I see it on many forums. Some people just can't be bothered or just want to see their name on a page... who knows.

                                                                        1. re: im_nomad

                                                                          The only Board driven community setup I have seen that alleviated repeat posts or better pre-search habits was a moderated site that didn't allow new topics to be posted without being moderated by admin. first. Then it was the moderators, not the members, who did the research to see if a post was given the all-clear (for any number of reasons) to be permanently posted to a specific Board for members to post to. New topics were never automatically posted. It's more work for the admin team and no work for the members. Also, on this same site the search engine had its own Board and all search engine related announcements, questions and comments were handled by a specific volunteer admin group separate from other site talk issues. This setup also alleviated repeat posts, a common occurrence when members hit the send, or resend a post too quickly. But, in all cases Moderators handled the clearance of all topics from the very first entry.