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Release Notes for 7/23/13 - New Search Feature

We're pleased to announce that CHOW has a new search feature, which has been in the works for a while. There are some design changes that you'll notice right away, but the biggest change is the actual engine that powers our search. So, for those who have previously complained that the search feature isn't finding the information you are looking for, I encourage you to give this new version a try.

There are a few specific things I want to point out about the new search feature.

Site-Wide Searches:

1) A general search across the entire site searches through the following categories of data: Recipes, Recipe Categories, Recipe Galleries, User Recipes, Videos, Boards, Discussions, Users, and Articles. Product Reviews are not showing up in search results yet, but we will add them soon.

2) You can narrow down your search results to see only: Recipes, Discussions, Videos, or Articles.

3) At any time, you can sort results by most relevant (Best Match) or by most recent (Recency). However, recency does play a role in determining relevancy.

4) You can search for a single word (cream), which will find every piece of content that contains that word. You can search for multiple words (cream pie), which will find every piece of content that contains both of those words, but not necessarily together or in order. You can also search for a phrase in quotes ("cream pie"), which will find every piece of content that contains that exact phrase.

5) Search results will load continuously. Once you get past the first 20 results, scrolling further will load the next 20 on the same page.

Chowhound Discussion Searches

6) If you limit your search results to discussions, you can narrow down even further by selecting which board you want to look under. An added feature of this new search is that you can select more than one board, making it possible to search for something under multiple boards at once.

7) You can also narrow down results by username, or by date. Again, if you search all years and sort by 'best match', keep in mind that recency will play a role in determining what shows up first, since recently updated or created discussions will have higher priority. However, if you know the exact dates you want to search for, you can choose "Past Month", "Past 12 Months", or select your own custom dates, which will limit your results to discussions updated during that time period. Note that if you choose new custom dates, you may have to press the search button again to apply your filter.

Recipe Searches

8) You can narrow down recipe searches by choosing one of the filters. You can also choose multiple filters here, allowing a search for "spinach" under both "Main" and "Starter"

We are going to be continuing to tweak this new search feature in the upcoming weeks and months, particularly when it comes to how relevancy is judged. In the meantime, constructive feedback is appreciated.

If you notice any bugs or unexpected results with the new search, you can report them on Site Talk. If the bug relates to the search results you're seeing, it'll often be helpful if you can include a link to the search results page that you're on. The URL will show us what exact search you've done, and the results that you're seeing.

Thanks very much,
Dave MP

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  1. Searching for "Table 128" with and without quotes on the California board fails to turn up this thread in the results.

    What's interesting is that when this related thread is displayed,
    http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/705605 , it shows up in the Discussions You Might Also Like box, so some part of search is finding it.

    9 Replies
    1. re: Melanie Wong

      Content from the past 4 days isn't indexed yet, but we're indexing them right now. So that's why that discussion isn't showing up, since it's from July 22. But this should be fixed shortly!

      Dave MP

      1. re: Dave MP

        The indexing has finished, so the problem Melanie noticed should be fixed. I see that discussion showing up now when I search for "Table 128"

        Dave MP

        1. re: Dave MP

          How long does it take for the search engine to index new posts? For example, I noticed that when this thread appears in the search results, it shows the last update was last year, rather than the most recent posting date of July 27, 2013.

          1. re: Melanie Wong

            It shouldn't take that long. We'll check into why that's happening.

            1. re: Dave MP

              Now I understand why some older threads are getting bumped when the topics have been in play in the last month. The more recent updates aren't showing up in search results when people try to find them.

              ETA: Here's an example of what I mean. The search engine does not find a thread started 7/28 yet.

              Edited to add: This morning the search results only showed this thread updated to 7/15 with 60 replies. It's now up to 7/19 with 73 replies, but still has a way to goes to be fully indexed through today's posts.

              1. re: Dave MP

                A spot check shows that search engine index seems to have updates through 8/21 and some of 8/22. I do notice that some threads are current up through postings in the last two hours, whereas others are not showing updates of the last four hours. I guess it's not strictly FIFO.

            2. re: Dave MP

              hi Dave, as usual with changes things are a bit confusing to me. I don't frequent CH that much any longer so the subtleties are still making me shake my head . just now I decided I have no idea what the yellow stars are about, where "my" most recent posts are (are they no longer in that order) . it used to be that I could go into anyone's thread that I'd posted on&find my name click on (mouse over) it and see my most recent post. "posts I'm following" did I follow any or are they automatically referred to that if I visited them once? ex: I haven't been into "what are you snacking on" in a long while, why is it first to pop on under my profile when it's got 1,000+ posts-I have an interest in things I commented on recently not something I've forgotten about.

              1. re: iL Divo

                In your case, everything should remain pretty much the same.

                If you post into a discussion, you'll automatically start following it, which means it'll show up in "My Followed Discussions"

                If you click on your username in a thread or on a board page, you'll be on "My Followed Discussions"

                If you don't want to follow a discussion anymore, you can unclick the yellow star to remove it.

                If you want to follow a discussion that you haven't participated in, you can click on the star, and it will turn yellow. You'll then be following it.

                Assuming that you don't manually add or remove any discussions from My Followed Discussions, then the functionality you're used to should be exactly the same as it was before. You'll see only discussions you've posted into, and they will be in whichever order you choose (sorted by Date Started, # of Replies, or Date of Last Reply)

          2. Just as a test, I searched for “‘meat loaf’ +’Pierre Franey’s +JoanN” and came up with zero results. See: http://www.chow.com/search?q=meatloaf... The same search on Google brought up exactly what I was looking for: http://www.chow.com/search?q=meatloaf...

            So in this instance at least, the Google search can still return what the Chow search cannot.

            A couple of comments on the new setup: The word “discussions” should be changed to “Chowhound” for clarity. Even as a long-time poster it took me a while to figure out what “discussions” was. Unless, of course, you’re trying to eventually rid the site of any reference whatsoever to Chowhound. Which would really be a shame, since that’s what those of us who post there call it.

            I’d also like to see the date range available at the top level. Makes no sense to me to have to click on the word “discussions” before being able to specify the date range I’m looking for.

            3 Replies
            1. re: JoanN

              You need to drop the "+" signs in the search term box. Here's the result,

              I entered JoanN in the user name box, but it didn't make a difference, same two results.

              I would suggest that the search engine be able to parse "+" signs for those users who are accustomed to using them. And I also feel that Chowhound should appear rather than or in addition to "discussions" on the menu.

              1. re: Melanie Wong

                Which begs the question, why not just have a Google search box/function embedded in this site as opposed to reinventing the wheel.

                1. re: Melanie Wong

                  Thanks, Melanie. Old habits die hard.

              2. Wow, I just used the new setup for the first time and the SE brought up 944 of my posts and broke out the list by category site wide-very cool. thanks!

                4 Replies
                1. re: HillJ

                  I went back and took a longer look at what comes up under my CH s/n and found a number of duplicates. Identical post & replies, listed in the same category but listed twice.

                  1. re: HillJ

                    I haven't seen this happen. HillJ, if you're seeing duplicate results in search, can you send us the URL of the search results page that you're on?

                    1. re: Dave MP


                      You're going to have to scroll down and down and down to reach duplication but eventually you'll see it.

                      eta: One example is an OP under 'discussion' titled:
                      Open(d) Faced

                      1. re: HillJ

                        I see the duplicate you're talking about. We'll look into it to see why that's happening.

                        Dave MP

                2. The "replies" count on search results is misleading. It's actually the number of posts, since topics that contain only the original post show 1 reply.

                  For example, under the topic heading in the results:
                  Mountain States, last updated 11/4/11 replies 6

                  This topic only has 5 replies, not 6. If you're counting the number of posts in a topic, why not just say "posts".

                  7 Replies
                  1. re: Melanie Wong

                    Thanks for pointing that out!
                    Dave MP

                    1. re: Dave MP

                      This had been fixed for a time. But I just noticed that topics with only the original post show "1" reply again.

                      1. re: Melanie Wong

                        Do you have an example of this still happening?

                        I'm not seeing it. For example, if I look at these search results, the thread about noodles in Gilroy is showing the correct 0 replies: http://www.chow.com/search?q=TK+Noodl...

                        1. re: Dave MP

                          It was happening at the time I posted. Then I noticed -0- replies when appropriate last night when I was using search again. So it has reverted. Given the general system flakiness, I let it go figuring that it may well shift again before anyone would see my message.

                          1. re: Dave MP

                            When I do a search for Parallel 37 on the SF board, the search result shows 1 reply for this thread when there is none currently.

                            1. re: Melanie Wong

                              Interestingly, there's a deleted reply to that post, so maybe that's causing the issue.

                              1. re: Jacquilynne

                                Thanks. On one of the few pages that has a related discussion box, I noticed that all three of the topics show 1 reply when there are none. Here's the shot of that part of the screen.

                    2. I love that I don't need to type quotation marks for the most part to parse for the search engine. Even more, I love that when I open a thread listed in the search results, it jumps to the post in a long discussion that has the terms I was seeking. No long scrolling and trying to find them with the browser find or visually.

                      1. I opened this post on the Home Cooking board about cuts of beef, and Discussions You Might Also Like had threads from the SF Bay Area, Cookware, and Wine boards.

                        Is that intentional?

                        6 Replies
                        1. re: Melanie Wong

                          We're still fiddling with the new related content stuff, so thank you for bringing that to our attention.

                          1. re: Engineering

                            I haven't noticed any other examples of pulling from other boards, but I'm just going by obvious subject headings. But the choices in many cases are not closely related, whereas, the system was pretty uncanny before. Also seeing the same issue with reply count where a topic with only the original post shows one reply in ().

                            1. re: Engineering

                              Some wacky matches, e.g., for a post about a ramen join in Santa Clara, these came up and are not much of a relation:

                              Exceptional Sauerkraut, SF Peninsula source (1 reply)
                              Was Dine About Town a success in SF? (1 reply)
                              Eggplant Parmigiana sandwiches -- where to go on Peninsula? (1 reply)

                              1. re: Engineering

                                This thread was formerly on the California board. Even though it's now on the San Diego board, it still picks up posts from the Calif board under related discussion.

                                1. re: Melanie Wong

                                  This appears to be fixed now. I think the reason this was happening is that the "related discussions" hadn't caught up yet.

                                  Let us know if you see this problem more going forward, but by later this week, it should be resolved.

                                  1. re: Dave MP

                                    Thanks for the update. I've noticed that when many pages are viewed, the box for "related discussion" has been replaced by advertising. Doesn't happen all the time, so I'm wondering if this is intended or a quirk of my browser.

                            2. The previous advanced search allowed for searching within titles only. Can this still be achieved?

                              6 Replies
                              1. re: scott123

                                There's no way to search within titles only, but if a word or phrase is in a title, it helps boost up its relevancy. So if you're looking for something relatively specific (for example, the name of a restaurant), and it's in a title, you should be seeing it pretty high in your search results.

                                1. re: Dave MP

                                  For the last 2 years, I've been searching, almost on a daily basis, within titles, by date, not relevancy, so relevancy does nothing for me.

                                  Are you telling me that this feature is gone for good?

                                  1. re: scott123

                                    If a word or exact phrase shows up in a title, it will be weighted heavily in the new algorithm, so it should be among the first things you're seeing. So, there's no way to *only* search within titles, but you should still be able to find everything, hopefully much better than before.

                                    You can still narrow your results by date (choose either past year, past month, or set your own time period).

                                    I have found that the new search is really working well, especially when it comes to words that show up in discussion titles. But if you have any examples to try out, let me know!

                                    1. re: Dave MP

                                      Here's my example.

                                      Before, I was able to plug 'pizza' in the 'title' field and it would only pick up threads with 'pizza' in the title, which I could then sort by date to find the most recent threads. This allowed me to keep up with any new threads with pizza in the title.

                                      As it stands now, if I search for 'pizza' it gives me every post with pizza in it, and, while 'best match' gives me mostly 'pizza' in the titles, it's posts from last year. When I sort by recency, I get every single post with 'pizza' in it- very few of which have pizza in the title.

                                      I'm sure the new search is better for some, but it's not better for me. It's possible that there aren't many of us, but for those that were searching only in titles and sorting by date, the new search is not an improvement.

                                      FWIW, I've never come across a forum that wouldn't let you search only in titles.

                                      1. re: scott123

                                        You make a valid point about having that flexibility to search only titles.

                                        However, I just did a search on the San Francisco board for 'pizza' and then narrowed down my results to be only from the past month, which means I would only see discussions that have been updated in the past month. When I sorted results by relevancy, all of the discussions with pizza in the title were at the top.

                                        When I did the same thing, but expanded to show discussions from the past year, it pretty much brought every discussion with pizza in the title to the top. A few super-focused pizza threads (without the word in the title) made it into the top 30 results, but there was a pretty clear division still.

                                        So, it's true that these results would not be displayed in exact order of when they were updated (since it's sorted by relevancy), but it's still really easy to find the most recent threads with pizza in the title.

                                        Here's a link to my search results page: http://www.chow.com/search?q=pizza&am...

                                        1. re: Dave MP

                                          Okay, fair enough. While a 'recency' sorted only in title search would be ideal, I think I can make a 'best match' custom date search work for my personal needs. Thanks.

                              2. The search engine finds other discussions, but not this one when I used "Pick's" (without parens) as the search term.

                                1 Reply
                                1. re: Melanie Wong

                                  The search for Pick's is now working for me....the discussion you mention comes up second in results.

                                2. Searches on mobile devices need to default to the board from which the search engages. This has been brought up before, but in the current iteration, I think it's more problematic.

                                  If I'm on the SF board on my iPhone, and want to do a search I need to do the following:

                                  Click magnifying glass
                                  Type in search term
                                  Hit enter
                                  Zoom in to make left panel visible
                                  Click "Discussions"
                                  Click "United states"
                                  Click "San Francisco Bay Area"
                                  Zoom out
                                  Click "recency"

                                  Five completely unnecessary steps, and they're time consuming too. I'm pretty fast on my phone, but searching for a recent thread on "sichuan" clocked in at 29 seconds. From a desktop, it takes 6 seconds. I'd imagine the same search in an area with poor cell phone reception would require much longer.

                                  3 Replies
                                  1. re: hyperbowler

                                    Hey hyperbowler.

                                    Thanks for pointing this out. We'll try to get a fix for this out in the near future.

                                      1. re: hyperbowler

                                        I'm finding once I am in search I can't use the back button to return to the board from whence I came, only to the search page. Can't recall this happening with the old search.

                                  2. Search by user name hasn't be working for me for a week or more.

                                    2 Replies
                                    1. re: Melanie Wong

                                      Searching by user name is working for me: http://www.chow.com/search?q=Fairfiel...

                                      After you type in a username into the field, you have to press the search button again to refresh results.

                                      I'm also noticing that your posts from the past day aren't showing up yet....but this is an indexing problem (which we're working on), and not a problem w/ the search-by-username.

                                      1. re: Dave MP

                                        Thanks! Previously I was clicking on the browser's refresh and could get results, then that stopped working. Now I'll be sure to click on the search button.

                                    2. It seems to be impossible to do a board-specific search on the archived boards, e.g., General South Archive. The search returns results from all of chowhound. I can understand them being read-only, but is there a way to find information on them that filters out everything else?

                                      1 Reply
                                      1. re: Melanie Wong

                                        Right now there's no way to search specifically within an archived board.

                                        However, we have moved all recently updated discussions out of these archived boards, and as you saw, discussions from these boards do show up in search results when you search the whole site.

                                      2. Was searching for a restaurant review I wrote last year and came up empty handed ( http://www.chow.com/search?q=Porteno&... ) until I added the tilde over the “en.” http://www.chow.com/search?q=Porteno&...

                                        Is there any way to set up the search function so that accents and diacritical marks are optional? I’m on an iMac and an iPhone and inserting accents on the iPhone is a breeze; you just hold down the letter for a second and the accented letters pop up and you can slide your finger over to the accented letter you want to use. I wish this same functionality was available on the desktop.

                                        3 Replies
                                        1. re: JoanN

                                          Yes, we are working on fixing this. By "optional" I assume you mean the following:

                                          A search for "peña" would come up with the same results as a search for "pena"

                                          1. re: Dave MP

                                            Yes, that is exactly what I mean. Thanks, Dave.

                                            1. re: Dave MP

                                              Anything further on this, Dave? Was just searching for "tortilla espanola" and couldn't find the thread I was looking for until I typed in "tortilla española."

                                          2. I was trying today to send some people some writeups on restaurants where they're currently visiting. So I would go to the Seattle board, but it also just happened on the Southwest board, and typed, for example, walrus carpenter c oliver. Got no results. Removed my screen name and got all the references to that restaurant. Can I not include my screen name in the search? TIA.

                                            3 Replies
                                            1. re: c oliver

                                              It's correct that you can't include your screen name in your search. For discussions, the new search tool only searches the actual titles and texts of the posts, not the usernames who makes them.

                                              If you want to search only discussions in which you've participated, you have to narrow down your search by putting your username into the User Name field. When I do this for your username with the terms 'walrus carpenter' I get 10 results: http://www.chow.com/search?q=walrus+c...

                                              Hope this helps!

                                              One other thing that I will mention here is that if you want to search for a specific user's profile, you can do that in search. You have to do a search of the entire site, and type in the name you are looking for. For example, see this search: http://www.chow.com/search?q=walrus+c...

                                              1. re: Dave MP

                                                Cool!!! I never even noticed that user name field. This will save me from always having to go to google :)

                                                OT but btw, I LOVE the way the photos are working these days. Good job.


                                                1. re: Dave MP

                                                  The new search tool is really good. I likes it.

                                              2. How long does it take for the search engine to index posts? This topic started two days ago and cannot be found by the search engine using "june lake", "tiger bar" or other terms.

                                                1 Reply
                                                1. re: Melanie Wong

                                                  And it's just shown up now in the search archive. Two days to index?