34

I have been the PM on the Enterprise team for almost 2 months now, and we have quite a large product backlog of features and areas to consider.

One of the features that we have prioritized recently and are actively working on, is improving search. When I say search, this is search for all Q&A products - the public site, Enterprise and, in the future, Channels. We are making a conscious effort to share the work that we are doing, functionally across all teams so as to be able to get more value, more quickly, to all of our users.

We have a few different ideas to work on including improving relevancy, indexing by question (so you only see one result for each question page), updating design and more.

One of the enhancements we are working on is search suggestions.

enter image description here

We turned this on earlier today and some of you may have seen it. We realize it isn’t perfect as yet, but having it live allows us to get data on the kind of suggestions Elastic makes, so that we can then improve on it. We also know that currently some suggestions lead to no results and we are working on suppressing them. This should not impact user experience in any way unless you were to choose to click on the suggestion.

Please feel free to comment/answer on this post for other examples of ‘Did you mean’ that you run into that feel rather off. Any and all feedback is helpful to make this much better!

migrated from meta.stackoverflow.com Nov 15 '17 at 23:12

This question came from our discussion, support, and feature requests site for professional and enthusiast programmers.

  • 2
    @davidism: I'm not sure it hurts to show a suggestion when there's nothing else to show. I don't know the details, but it stands to reason that we'll learn more having it live than if we futz with it in development. – Jon Ericson Nov 15 '17 at 23:27
  • Network wide, @Journeyman Geek – Vasudha Swaminathan Nov 16 '17 at 2:31
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    Also, why exactly isn't this post featured? You all are working on one of the features which users have always wanted, and we all are really happy about that, but why not make it visible to all users network wide? Most of these users would not even be aware of this as they'd only be following the per site meta, and the question would end up in the 2nd page by tomorrow, mixed in between the other questions. – Bhargav Rao Nov 16 '17 at 4:49
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    "fucktion" results in a suggestion for "function", but "fuction" (only one letter difference) does not. Ref: At 17 min 54 secs in episode 50 of the (original) Stack Overflow podcast, 2009-04-21 (with Steve Yegge). – Peter Mortensen Nov 16 '17 at 16:18
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    @BhargavRao: Currently, this feature is, um, not wonderful. It's a step in the right direction and I think it'll be a small win for everyone if we get it right. But we don't need (or want) to draw a lot of attention to the feature right now. But if people want to talk about it, this is the place. – Jon Ericson Nov 16 '17 at 17:01
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    I hope you guys are starting small and ramping up, because I've never seen "search doesn't autocorrect muh goofs" as a complaint about search around here :/ – Won't Nov 16 '17 at 21:38
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    @Won't: Yeah. This is a cheap feature of Elasticsearch. We recently updated and figured it wouldn't hurt to turn it on. That said, I'm typo-prone and have often wished we had such a feature. – Jon Ericson Nov 16 '17 at 22:42
  • Correction: it is at 17 min 07 secs, not 17 min 54 secs. – Peter Mortensen Oct 8 '18 at 19:50
16

A feature request: Add suggestions even when there are results for the typo word. The first thing I ran into was the famous typo of phyton, but I was surprised not to see any suggestions.

E.g:

With results

enter image description here

Without results

enter image description here

  • 1
    But if you were searching Physics, you'd probably want "photon" :D – Catija Nov 15 '17 at 23:54
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    Checking on Philosophy the rather unhelpful suggestion is "put_on". But if we can train this thing to give better suggestions, it would make sense to show them. – Jon Ericson Nov 15 '17 at 23:56
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    Or if we're following Google's style, search the predicted correct keyword (perhaps by comparing count of search result) first while adding an alternative to search for the typo word. – Meta Andrew T. Nov 16 '17 at 1:34
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    @Catija Well, I think that they're going to train each site's search using its own data. So that'd be covered. – Bhargav Rao Nov 16 '17 at 4:44
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    @AndrewT., Google's "I know better than you" search is problematic enough when most people are doing general-interest searches (just try looking for "row vs. wade", the punchline to innumerable jokes about crossing rivers). For something like SE, where things tend to have similar and often typo-like names, searching preemptively for the assumed-correct keywords is likely to frustrate a lot of people. – Mark Nov 16 '17 at 23:33
  • @Mark fair enough, but I still believe it would be helpful for more obvious typo like "andriod" or "andorid" to search for (or include) "android" instead. – Meta Andrew T. Nov 17 '17 at 1:59
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    I noticed the same thing, trivial typos defeat the feature because they're also present in the site content, so you still get a few results. If I type "potsgres" or "posgres" instead of "postgres", I get no suggestions because there are still (bad) results. – Mad Scientist Nov 17 '17 at 12:08
  • I've never seen that typo before, but now that I, have I'm sure I'm going to be making it at least daily. – uhoh Nov 28 '17 at 19:20
6

Searching for terms that have a dash in them removes the dash in the suggestion. For example, searching for "Flask-SQLAlchmy" (there's a missing "e" in "Alchemy") suggests the separate words "Flask SQLAlchemy", which is not the same thing.

5

Searching for terms that should not have a space in them does not suggest the term without the space. For example, searching "sql alchemy" does not suggest "sqlalchemy".

4

A suggestion on a search with multiple terms includes all the terms. For example, "flask wtfarms" suggests "flask wtforms".

However, advanced search syntax is stripped when using the suggestion. For example, searching "user:me sqlalchmy" suggests "sqlalchemy" without "user:me".

4

Broken formating for long phrases:

design

  • @6'whitemale my post is about tab positions in case of long suggested string. There are no short words for example. – αλεχολυτ Nov 17 '17 at 16:04
  • This should be fixed. It was a results of elasticsearch stemming the results. – Geoff Dalgas Nov 28 '17 at 19:17

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