What the heck is wrong with the search engine on this board?

Okay, I’ve a couple of searches for threads that had passed from the main forum topic pages, and only found the ones I wanted because I found links to them in other threads. This shouldn’t be hard, and I’d like to know what is wrong with the search engine here that it can’t do simple searches.

For instance: Go to Search. Go to Advanced Search. Enter the word “inception”. Search threads 2 years old or newer. Search only in Cafe Society.

Why doesn’t the thread titled “The “I’ve seen INCEPTION” thread (spoilers inevitable)” not come up on the search? I found it thru a link in a closed review of the movie, but that thread clearly should have appeared in the search results, and it does not.

I can’t remember my other search (I’ll go back thru my recent posts and find it), but it was also simple and direct and came back without the correct thread.

What gives? Why is the search engine here so shitty?

Oh yeah. It was about Bob’s Burgers, and the search engine couldn’t find the thread called “Bob’s Burgers, SERIES PREMIERE (open spoilers)” when searching for the word “burger” in Cafe Society.

A search for burger will not find Bob’s Burgers. The search engine only works for exact matches, unless you add a wildcard (*). The same problem happens with any punctuation (ie. quotation marks in titles).

burger /= burgers, but burger* = burgers

I never use the board’s search engine. I just use Google instead. Add the following to whatever you want to search for: “site:boards.straightdope.com”, and you’ll only get results for the board.

So because the word inception had the end quote mark after the last letter, the search engine ignored it? That’s fail.

The search engine can’t find a word if it’s plural because I only specified the singular? That’s fail.

Okay, so now we know how it fails. The question then becomes: why is the search engine set up this way? It’s obviously not going to help people as often as it could (and should), so why is it set up this way?

Here is information about the limitations and how to use the vBulletin search effectively: http://www.vbulletin.org/forum/archive/index.php/t-253432.html. If you don’t like the limitations of the vBulletin search, then use Google as suggested.

If i have posted in the thread, I search for my posts. If not & I remember the name of someone who is an infrequent poster has posted on the thread I search their posts. This can be just as quick as google.

Please don’t tell me you’re just now realizing this board search function is unequivocally terrible. The moderators here even tell you to go to another website in order to search this board more effectively. Anyway, mayhaps you will find this thread helpful. Actually, it’s not very helpful at all, as it just reiterates what we’ve already established here, but linking to related threads makes me feel like I’m accomplishing something. You’re welcome.

Have you ever used the Straight Dope search engine to find articles by Cecil and Staff? It’s horrendous!

I think you all are missing something. The function is called “search”, it’s not called “find”.

“Search” just requires some effort in an attempt to “find”, but nothing has really been said about how much effort or how clever that search will be. It could come up empty every time and still accurately be described as a “search” function as long as it tried.

“Find”, on the other hand, is more focused on the end results than the effort. Basically what you want is a “find” function.

This board uses vBulletin software, and its search engine is the vBulletin search engine. At this point I suspect that switching to alternate message board software would be way beyond any practical considerations.

That’s right. The staffers and ownership of this board have exactly zero control over vBulletin’s software and how it does searches. vBulletin has a really crappy search engine but all things considered, it is by far the best message board software out there.

People who complain about the search engine here as if it is a decision about rules or a moderator interpretation baffle me. Do they really honestly think that the staff can somehow reprogram a purchased piece of canned software?

And here I thought it was because the search engine spec calls for capybaras, but the budget only allows for hamsters.

I would like to humbly suggest that the Dope do what many other forums I visit have done: add a Google custom search box. This is much more convenient than having to bother with the the “site:” trick (which a lot of folks don’t even know about).

The only thing that the vBulletin search has over Google is the ability to limit to certain subfora, date ranges, etc., but as others have pointed out, search is so broken in other respects that it barely matters. For example, and in addition to what else has been mentioned – the inability to search for words of three letters or less is very obnoxious, but Google has no such limitations.

In fact (and I’m not suggesting you do this, but), one large* forum I frequent, which also uses vBulletin and was also having issues with searches slowing the site down, went to far as to disable the vBulletin search entirely and now relies solely on a Google custom search box. This has actually worked out very well – not perfectly, but much better than how it was before. So I know it can be done…

*According to Big Boards, it had almost 4Xs the number of posts last week than we did. I say this just to nip in the bud the argument that this solution would only work for a smaller/less trafficked board.