Can the search function of the forum be optimised? For example by adding the date of posts?

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  • Elisabeth
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Can the search function of the forum be optimised? For example by adding the date of posts?

Dear all,

I have moved here a suggestion that Chris Canaday recently made *:

It would be good to know the dates of the different posts when we do a search.


Chris meant this search here which you can access at the top right of the menu bar when you click on "Search": www.forum.susana.org/gsearch

I asked Steffen Eisser, the chief programmer of the Forum (this is Steffen's user profile: forum.susana.org/forum/profile/userid-78 )

He answered:

The "normal" search function is an implemented Google site search for the forum (on website for forum and website) and it is set to the default options of google search. It means Google will give you a sorted list like they think it is important for you. I don't think there is a possibility to change this to sorting by date.

I just looked a while in the API reference for Google site search and there seems a way to sort content by date. But this is not the post date, it is rather the date when Google is crawling the new content.
To show the date it is very complicated as you have to add meta tags/xml information and informations for the forum that Google can grab for saving a date like in the Kunena database.


So my conclusion is that it would be too complex to do, given the little additional benefit gained. Do you see it in the same way?

Note there is also the so-called "Advanced Search" (see second item in the drop down menu of "Search" at the top right menu bar). This "advanced search" searches only the forum and it does give the posts by date. However in my experience the advanced search is not as reliable as the general Google site search. I have had cases where I couldn't find what I was looking for by using the "advanced search" but I found it with the general search.

On a related note, I am wondering if there are ways of making the search function more user friendly and more obvious and more widely used. I have had many cases where users asked me how to search the forum, indicating that they were not aware of this search button at the top. How could we make it more prominent? Perhaps a box and field with a magnifying glass would work better? Maybe it should be positioned directly next to the question mark at the very right in the top bar?

And yes, how we could use the search function to also search attachments is an important question. At the moment, the search function will bring up the attachment that you are looking for only if the title of the attachment is mentioned in the post itself (hint: always do that). This was also mentioned here:
forum.susana.org/forum/categories/148-yo...nd-attachments-later
If you have further ideas on that issue of searching for attachments, please put them in that thread there.

If you have more ideas about improving the search function in general, please them them in this thread here.

Regards,
Elisabeth

* It was previously in this thread: forum.susana.org/forum/categories/148-yo...orum-software-issues which is currently developing a range of interesting possible improvements for the forum which we should discuss together and carefully assess and then implement those that give us the best cost-benefit ratio.
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Dr. Elisabeth von Muench
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Re: Can the search function of the forum be optimised? For example by adding the date of posts?

Please see further comments on searching by 'ticking' which was suggested by Chris Canaday in his Featured User interview ( forum.susana.org/forum/categories/145-fe...m-california-ecuador )

I suggest we add more options for quick feedback than just liking a post or adding or subtracting karma points. These could include:
• Please give more support for the ideas expressed.
• I would like to put this into practice myself.
• This would be an excellent thesis topic.
• This is a great option for the billions who have no toilet.
• This is excellent for elegant applications.
• This is very environmentally sustainable.
• This seems to have an excessive environmental impact.

If we do this, members could then search for these items. Also, some of our thousands of members may prefer to only see posts that others have ticked with one or more of these items … or to receive all the posts ordered according to these items (with a delay of several days to allow standard members to tick these). This may be especially important now that the Forum has grown so much and the list of posts is sometimes very long. This would make it easier for the “silent majority” of members to give feedback, even if just ticking these items … and some privilege, such as searching, could hinge on ticking.

My response: Chris' suggestion of “ticking” is similar to the idea of hashtagging on Twitter, which can be useful for quick searches on a certain topic. On Twitter (with the IT-capabilities and system functioning for such a mechanism), “hashtagging” allows you to search or click on a certain combination of words, ex. #sustainablesanitation, and search results are pulled up from those entries that "hashtag" that combination.

(Posted by Roslyn)
Posted by a member of the SuSanA secretariat held by the GIZ sustainable sanitation sector program
Located at Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH, Eschborn, Germany
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