1. Have you installed the new JSF Mobile app? Check out all the details here.
    Dismiss Notice
  2. One account & one avatar for all of JSF. Unified login and profile. Forum alerts on the main site, and more. Check out the details here: Forum & main site unified account feature is live!
    Dismiss Notice

Guide to Searching the JSF Forums

Discussion in 'Technical' started by danswanton, Jan 23, 2006.

  1. danswanton

    danswanton Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Jan 8, 2006
    Messages:
    131
    Likes Received:
    0
    INTRODUCTION
    There is a lot of useful information in the JSF Forums. In fact, just about every question you have has probably already been asked and answered somewhere in the forums. Unfortunately, it can be difficult to find these informative threads.

    The best way to find information about a topic is to search. You can get to the search page by clicking "search" at the top of any forum page and then clicking "advanced search". Unfortunately, the search page can be difficult to use. In this guide I will give some tips and advice on how to effectively use the search page.

    (Note: You can also search by clicking "search" and then typing in the "quick search" box directly below, but for reasons I will get to later, this is usually not a good idea.)

    SEARCHING TITLES
    On the search page directly below the "Keywords" box, you have the choice to either "Search Entire Post" or "Search Titles Only". It is almost always better to search only the titles! The problem is that entire post searches will return off-topic results.

    For example, if you are looking for information on calipers, and you search the entire posts, you'll probably just get a bunch of journals that happen to mention the word "calipers". Posts that mention calipers in their titles are much more likely to contain useful information about them.

    BOOLEAN SEARCH
    If you enter multiple keywords in the search box, by default you will get a list of results that contain at least one of the words, but not necessarily all the words. Sometimes this is not what you want! In these cases, you want to use a Boolean Search.

    For example, if you are looking for information on "sugar alcohol", and you do a normal search, you will get a bunch of results about sugar, a bunch of results about alcohol, and maybe -- if you're lucky -- a result about sugar alcohol. Instead, if you enclose the phrase with the Boolean Search operator " and search for "sugar alcohol", you will get only results containing that exact phrase.


    Here is a detailed look at Boolean search operators (added by John Stone - October 13, 2006).

    The Boolean full-text search capability supports the following operators:
    • +
      A leading plus sign indicates that this word must be present in each post that is returned.
    • -
      A leading minus sign indicates that this word must not be present in any of the posts that are returned.
    • > <
      These two operators are used to change a word's contribution to the relevance value that is assigned to a post. The > operator increases the contribution and the < operator decreases it. See the example below.
    • ( )
      Parentheses are used to group words into subexpressions. Parenthesized groups can be nested.
    • ~
      A leading tilde acts as a negation operator, causing the word's contribution to the post's relevance to be negative. This is useful for marking “noise” words. A post containing such a word is rated lower than others, but is not excluded altogether, as it would be with the - operator.
    • *
      The asterisk serves as the truncation operator. Unlike the other operators, it should be appended to the word to be affected.
    • "
      A phrase that is enclosed within double quote (‘"’) characters matches only posts that contain the phrase literally, as it was typed. The full-text engine splits the phrase into words, performs a search in the FULLTEXT index for the words. The engine then performs a substring search for the phrase in the records that are found, so the match must include non-word characters in the phrase. For example, "test phrase" does not match "test, phrase". If the phrase contains no words that are in the index, the result is empty. For example, if all words are either stopwords or shorter than the minimum length of indexed words, the result is empty.
    The following examples demonstrate some search strings that use Boolean full-text operators:
    • apple banana
      Find posts that contain at least one of the two words.
    • +apple +juice
      Find posts that contain both words.
    • +apple macintosh
      Find posts that contain the word “apple”, but rank posts higher if they also contain “macintosh”.
    • +apple -macintosh
      Find posts that contain the word “apple” but not “macintosh”.
    • +apple +(>turnover <strudel)
      Find posts that contain the words “apple” and “turnover”, or “apple” and “strudel” (in any order), but rank “apple turnover” higher than “apple strudel”.
    • apple*
      Find posts that contain words such as “apple”, “apples”, “applesauce”, or “applet”.
    • "some words"
      Find posts that contain the exact phrase “some words” (for example, posts that contain “some words of wisdom” but not “some noise words”).
    Some words are ignored in full-text searches:
    • Any word that is too short is ignored. The minimum length of words that are found by full-text searches on JSF is two characters.
    • Words in the stopword list are ignored. A stopword is a word such as “the” or “some” that is so common that it is considered to have zero semantic value.
    USER STALKING
    A good way to browse generally for information is to pick a helpful user and then search for posts by them. You can do this easily on the search page by doing a "Search by User Name" and then typing in their username. It's generally best to leave the keywords box empty when you do this.

    SHOWING RESULTS AS POSTS
    Another useful search option is to show results as posts instead of threads. This is a simple option found near the bottom of the search page. It can have two big advantages: 1) it enables you to jump to a specific post in a long thread 2) a short snippet of text from the post is displayed, which can help you decide whether you want to read the post without clicking on it.

    For example, you might want to jump to a specific post about "creatine" in John's journal. Another example where this search option is effective is when it is combined with user stalking: the short text snippets are often enough to decide which posts you should read.

    CONCLUSION
    There are other options on the search page that you should experiment with, but I have found these search types to be the most helpful.

    The problem with using quick search instead of the search page is that it doesn't allow you to use powerful features like searching titles, showing results as posts, or user stalking. By combining these advanced search options you can drastically improve the effectiveness of your searches. This is good for you, because you will learn faster, and it is good for everyone else too, because they will not have to answer the same questions over and over again.

    NOTE
    I am a new to JSF, and I'm sure there are other great ways to improve search results. I would love to hear about them! I would also be happy to update this post as I learn more, since I think there is value to having a good guide on searching. Thanks to gravityhomer for the tip and example about showing results as posts!

    ADMIN EDIT (October 13, 2006): I edited this post to included detailed information about Boolean search operators.
     
    #1 danswanton, Jan 23, 2006
    Last edited: Feb 4, 2006
  2. John Stone

    John Stone Every day is Leg Day
    Staff Member Owner

    Joined:
    Jan 20, 2004
    Messages:
    20,921
    Likes Received:
    74
    Instant sticky - good job, and thank you!
     
  3. vatechguy

    vatechguy Elite Member
    Lifetime Platinum Member

    Joined:
    Jan 22, 2005
    Messages:
    1,835
    Likes Received:
    0
    Great post.

    I will add that using informative titles like :

    How many claories is in 6 ounces of boneless cooked chicken chicken breast?

    Or

    Question about number of reps in Max-OT related to deadlifts


    are much more informative titles to help others search than:

    Diet question
    or
    Help me with my routine


    Just something to throw out there to make it easier for everybody. :)
     
  4. YardleyBill

    YardleyBill Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Sep 29, 2005
    Messages:
    174
    Likes Received:
    0
    Is there a way to search for a string, like "wheat pasta" or "sugar alcohol"?
     
  5. vatechguy

    vatechguy Elite Member
    Lifetime Platinum Member

    Joined:
    Jan 22, 2005
    Messages:
    1,835
    Likes Received:
    0
    Exactly how you did it - put it in quotes. :)

    edit: ok - nm - you're correct that doesn't work. I got lucky with my first couple hits that the words happened to be together. :(
     
    #5 vatechguy, Feb 2, 2006
    Last edited: Feb 3, 2006
  6. YardleyBill

    YardleyBill Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Sep 29, 2005
    Messages:
    174
    Likes Received:
    0
    Doesn't work for me -- am I doing something wrong?
     
  7. gravityhomer

    gravityhomer Elite Member
    Lifetime Platinum Member

    Joined:
    Jan 23, 2004
    Messages:
    3,627
    Likes Received:
    2
    Hey great thread. I Think it would be a good idea to remind everyone in your first post that a very useful way to search is to choose the results to be displayed as posts rather than threads. This is a simple option that can be chosen at the bottom of the search page.

    The reason this is so great, is often threads are incredibly long (like John's and wh0's journals) and it will take forever to find where in those threads a subject is mentioned, like creatine for example.
     
  8. John Stone

    John Stone Every day is Leg Day
    Staff Member Owner

    Joined:
    Jan 20, 2004
    Messages:
    20,921
    Likes Received:
    74
    I've updated the guide to include very detailed information about all the Boolean operators that are available to JSF members. There are also some examples to help clarify their proper use.
     
  9. lizzie

    lizzie Active Member

    Joined:
    Mar 31, 2008
    Messages:
    6
    Likes Received:
    0
    Where would I post a question that I have for Mr. John Stone? It's about his clean diet.
     
  10. Foley

    Foley Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Nov 29, 2005
    Messages:
    4,997
    Likes Received:
    19
    Send him a PM or start a new thread in the appropriate forum. Or write it in his picture gallery, go to his signaure for the link. :)
     
  11. lizzie

    lizzie Active Member

    Joined:
    Mar 31, 2008
    Messages:
    6
    Likes Received:
    0
    Well thank you. Im new to this site, so there are a few things I need to learn.
     

Share This Page