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Dec 13, 2013 11:29 AM

Useless Chow Search

I am one of a handful of regular posters on the Hawaii Board. Every year at this time there are postings from Visitors asking about places for Holiday lunches and dinners. You would think that after all these years that doing a search for "Christmas Dinner Waikiki", or "Holiday Dinner Honolulu" would turn up more than two threads. I don't know why Chow's search engine is so poor, but I do know that there are many many comments in various threads about it's lack of effectiveness. What plans are there to improve this?

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  1. By using just the term "Christmas" I got 13 threads returned by the in-house search engine.


    Compare that with using Google and entering Chowhound: Hawaii Christmas


    1 Reply
    1. re: Servorg

      You should note that the google result is vastly inflated by "false positives" because it picks up the search terms when they appear in the footer to a page, thus repeating the same useless nonsense over and over again without real content.

    2. KM, I use Google FAR more than Chow's search. Far less frustrating. I gave up long ago.

      1. Actually, after the revamp not long ago Chow search has been working quite well. It is more comprehensive than Google search and has options for delimiting that make it more useful to me, once you learn to use the tools.

        But starting last week, things have been going haywire. Almost feels like someone hacked the search indices.

        1. It's not helped by the number of misspellings both in titles and paragraphs.

          10 Replies
          1. re: sr44

            As I have been reminded many times by the mods, CH policy is that spelling, grammar, coherence, and accuracy are unimportant.

            1. re: greygarious

              I think sr44 means that it hinders a search whereas with Google if we get close "it's our friend" :)

              1. re: c oliver

                I use Google all the time to find CH threads with very specific strings of words and it nearly always pops up on search. I still can't say that about the CH/CHOW Search engine.

                1. re: HillJ

                  And I don't have a problem with that. CH is no Google and searching is Google's business so it makes sense.

                  1. re: c oliver

                    Totally agree. It's just a shame that we need to leave the site to run a search when the site aims to provide one that members can use (after all, this is their own content).

                    1. re: HillJ

                      eta: and for mobile it's really a big pita.

                      1. re: HillJ

                        I can count on half a hand the number of times I've needed to access CH on my phone.

                        1. re: c oliver

                          Well then you'd be pretty surprised how many friends I showed your food photos to this week :)

              2. re: greygarious

                We will update spelling in thread titles if it's relevant to search -- the name of a town or restaurant, for example -- if someone Flags it. But generally speaking, we do ask that people not jump on other people's spelling mistakes.

            2. I've noticed that on the Manhattan board the search terms "9/11 memorial" both with and without the quotes bring up 0 results, even though this is a major stop for most tourists in NYC.

              25 Replies
                1. re: Servorg

                  Those tourists are posting requests for restaurants near the 9/11 memorial on CH, so yes, it has a lot to do with food. For example:


                  1. re: carolinadawg

                    I did link to the 39 results I got using 911 in the search box...

                    1. re: Servorg

                      How many results did you get using "9/11"?

                        1. re: Servorg

                          Give it a try...I think it will come up empty...

                          1. re: carolinadawg

                            That's an enticing offer (g). As I said elsewhere in this thread we need to encourage more creative lateral thinking and minimize the spoon feeding of our user population.

                            1. re: Servorg

                              Good luck with that! What do the actual owners of the site think about that?

                              1. re: carolinadawg

                                "What do the actual owners of the site think about that?"

                                I'm talking about the entire community. If others don't want to encourage self sufficiency that's fine. This effort is in the "Give a man a fish and he'll eat for a day. Teach a man to fish and he'll drink a hell of a lot of beer and eat for a lifetime" vein. I don't mind being the lone voice in the wilderness. It won't be the first time. Nor will it be the last, I'm sure.

                                1. re: Servorg

                                  The reality is that posters can have whatever ideas, plans and desires they want, but the only opinions that count are the opinions of those who run the site. We can "encourage" anything we want, but have no ability to actually enforce it.

                                  1. re: carolinadawg

                                    carolina, I've often thought that and more times than not a CH (usually a CA CH) will remind me that CH's can jump start some encouraging idea, suggestion or thread topic without the "permission" we seem to seek. That if the idea, suggestion or thread topic falls on its face, we'll know quickly but that shouldn't stop us from taking the initiative.

                                    So the message I was given was : be empowered.

                                    1. re: HillJ

                                      Better to beg forgiveness than ask for permission...

                                      1. re: Servorg

                                        I've heard that comment from so many California CHs I've lost track. Is that the west coast club slogan? It must be.

                                      2. re: HillJ

                                        Sure, anyone can suggest anything; I'm just pointing that only those who run the site can do the implementation. The other poster wasn't suggesting a change to the powers that be, he/she was suggesting the posters somehow implement the change, which isn't possible.

                                        1. re: carolinadawg

                                          Oh okay. I was referring to never hesitating to call upon the PTB directly or through threads regarding a suggestion.

                    2. re: Servorg

                      "9/11 Memorial" is one of the official names for the site, so it does matter. If someone can't find any older threads on the subject due to the slash, they might assume the topic hasn't ever been discussed, as carolinadawg points out.

                      1. re: kathryn

                        I think we need to take some of the spoon feeding of pablum away and have folks figure out there are multiple ways to find information on the net...even if that means thinking about and trying a few different search terms - or coming at what you want from a different angle completely.

                        1. re: Servorg

                          I appreciate the effort of posters here to debugging the search engine. If it can't recognize "/", that's a problem in this specific case and others to come. In the meantime, you've proposed a workaround.

                          1. re: Melanie Wong

                            Debugging site users...maybe even more valuable than debugging the search engine?

                            1. re: Servorg

                              Since the average site user or visitor only looks at 1.4 pages, that would be somewhat of a challenge to try to engage them in any educational effort. Making the site work for casual users is probably a better pay off for keeping up traffic and revenue. Usually you get one chance to satisfy a customer before he/she moves on.

                              1. re: Melanie Wong

                                I look at this as a virtue that will help the site users, whether they stay around to become regulars on Chowhound - or not. The ability to come at finding information on the net from oblique angles will benefit the folks who get exposed to the idea of thinking and trying for themselves, no matter where they go in virtual space.

                                    1. re: Servorg

                                      then the fishing poles...what will you use as bait?