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Degradation of Cache Search Functionality


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During one of the recent site "enhancements" the Seek A Cache functionality was degraded. Previously users were able to enter Keywords to find a list of applicable cache names. With the current "enhancement" users can only search for the exact word/s that the cache starts with.

 

I know somewhere there is a cache called "Elves Save the Hamsters" but I can not find it in the search if I use "elves" or "hamsters". No, wait, it was "THE Elves Save the Hamsters", but I guess I needed to know about the THE before searching.

 

I am curious as to why such a regression was thought to be in the best interests of the community. Did the previous functionality take up too many lines of code, slow down the site, or what? There had to be a good reason to make searches more difficult.

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Yes, I know there has been an off-hand reference to this situation in another thread somewhere with a different subject. Not sure where that was.

 

This question may belong in a different forum, and I am more than amenable to having it nudged to the appropriate location by a moderator.

Edited by cheech gang
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During one of the recent site "enhancements" the Seek A Cache functionality was degraded.

What you said above demonstrates a common misconception. Groundspeak only advertises these changes as part of a "site update". At no point do they refer to the changes as an "upgrade" or "enhancement". No improvement is promised or implied, just that something is changing.

 

I am curious as to why such a regression was thought to be in the best interests of the community. Did the previous functionality take up too many lines of code, slow down the site, or what? There had to be a good reason to make searches more difficult.

My suspicion is that the change was made solely for performance reasons. The previous keyword search was slow to return the results, and probably hit the database hard. This new "starts with" search is very quick to respond.

 

However, the new search doesn't work in a predictable manner. For example, there's an annual cache hiding event in this region, and each cache is supposed to have the prefix "B12:" to make identifying them easier. I just did a search for "b12". When I did that search, I only got one result from Germany for a cache titled "B12", and didn't get any of the local results that also start with "B12". If I then search for "b12:", I then get all of the local caches.

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However, the new search doesn't work in a predictable manner. For example, there's an annual cache hiding event in this region, and each cache is supposed to have the prefix "B12:" to make identifying them easier. I just did a search for "b12". When I did that search, I only got one result from Germany for a cache titled "B12", and didn't get any of the local results that also start with "B12". If I then search for "b12:", I then get all of the local caches.

That misfeature was there before, as I recall. No partial-text searches.

Worst. Search. Ever.

 

...exacerbated by the inability to just step outside and use the Google - a useful trick for the forums.

 

Hey, how about lightening up on robots.txt until you get around to fixing search?

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...exacerbated by the inability to just step outside and use the Google - a useful trick for the forums.

Not an excuse for the lack of a proper cache name search feature on GC.com, but using Google can useful when searching for caches by name. For example, if I Google the following:

 

"elves" and "hamsters" site:www.geocaching.com/

 

The Elves Save the Hamsters (GC162FG) is the first result in the returned list.

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I find it interesting that the *advanced* search options are the same as the regular search options..

What better way to improve performance. :laughing: :laughing: :laughing: :laughing:

 

Following a tried and true business model for a like situation. You can have it in any color as long as it's black. :laughing: :laughing: :laughing:

 

Sorry, they are only offering grey.

 

I thought that the Keyword Search was an upgrade from a site update a few years ago, with a promise to improve it with future updates.

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I find it interesting that the *advanced* search options are the same as the regular search options..

I've always thought the "advanced search" had less options than the regular search. My thinking would be that "advanced" should let you search by several parameters at once.

 

Back on topic: I just noticed the change from "keyword" to "starts with". I've thought before it would be nice to have a "starts with" option, but they shouldn't have taken the keyword search away. I did notice you can still search by keyword in "advanced search", though that doesn't seem to work right, either.

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I can't come up with 40 -- Prime or Not Prime in any search. If I just type "40", I get 9 results, all just the name "40". If I type "40-", I get no results. I tried the advanced search by keyword, "prime or not prime" yielded no results, with or without quotations, "prime" alone yielded about 140 results, all of which seemed to start with "prime". :mad:

I thought maybe the cache had been archived for some reason (though I found it yesterday), but it shows up on the map, and status is active.

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I can't come up with 40 -- Prime or Not Prime in any search. If I just type "40", I get 9 results, all just the name "40". If I type "40-", I get no results. I tried the advanced search by keyword, "prime or not prime" yielded no results, with or without quotations, "prime" alone yielded about 140 results, all of which seemed to start with "prime". :mad:

I thought maybe the cache had been archived for some reason (though I found it yesterday), but it shows up on the map, and status is active.

 

I just tried another cache. "PC" yielded 1 result, simply "PC". "PC Load" yielded 1 result, "PC LOAD LETTER", which is what I was looking for. There seems to be a problem here.

 

I searched for "40 --" and got "40 -- Prime or Not Prime". I searched for "PC L" and got "PC LOAD LETTER". Maybe it is an issue with searching for exactly the first word? How crazy is that?

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After some more experiments I think I might have hit on something. If the search phrase is more that 3 characters then it works. If less than 4 characters then it only returns caches with that exact name. Oh, and trailing spaces are apparently removed before doing the search (and don't count in the character count).

Edited by GeePa
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I stand corrected. It looks like Google does find caches by name after all. I just tried it with a bunch of the most obscure, un-favorite, un-linked-to caches I could think of, and it found each and every one of them.

 

Groundspeak, why don't you simply remove the "starts with" search? Admit defeat in the face of Google. "Starts with" search is useless and does little more than take up space.

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I can't come up with 40 -- Prime or Not Prime in any search. If I just type "40", I get 9 results, all just the name "40". If I type "40-", I get no results. I tried the advanced search by keyword, "prime or not prime" yielded no results, with or without quotations, "prime" alone yielded about 140 results, all of which seemed to start with "prime". :mad:

I thought maybe the cache had been archived for some reason (though I found it yesterday), but it shows up on the map, and status is active.

 

So, the search doesn't work well. Here's a newsflash. It never worked well! I tried searching for "Mingo" once with the old search. It's the only cache in the world that matches the search perfectly yet it was on the 4th or 5th page, followed by a hundred "Pink Flamingos". At least Mingo's at the top now.

 

BTW, it only took about 5 seconds for me to type "40 prime site:geocaching.com/seek" into Google. The cache you seek is the first hit.

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BTW, it only took about 5 seconds for me to type "40 prime site:geocaching.com/seek" into Google. The cache you seek is the first hit.

Since Geocaching has its own search engine, you shouldn't have to use a third-party search. I guess I don't know all the intricacies of Google. I wouldn't have known how to search a certain site. I do now, if I can remember.

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I generally don't complain about any of the features on this site, but do have to agree about this one. The "Starts with" would be better named "Starts and ends with". I have to find two caches in the alphanumeric cache name list, a 6 and an 8. Typing those in gives a list of caches named 6 or 8. I was hoping it would list all caches that start with those but have either numbers/letters/words to go along with the number. Worthless "tool" as far as I'm concerned.

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BTW, it only took about 5 seconds for me to type "40 prime site:geocaching.com/seek" into Google. The cache you seek is the first hit.

I just copied and pasted your search into my search box, and got 58 results, none of which was what I wanted. I guess Google search doesn't work for me. I don't know if it makes a difference, but my searches get rerouted through a filter, which seems to have its own Google-powered search engine.

I guess I'll just have to use the map, if I happen to know the approximate area.

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Ya, Google's not the answer. Try finding something more generic like "Challenge caches" or Jasmer Challenges". You can get a bunch of forum stuff and what do you do with all the individual links?

 

I tried "jasmer site:geocaching.com/seek" (without the double quotes) in google and almost every single result returned in the first few pages was a direct link to a Jasmer challenge cache page. Could the issues with Google be some kind of international thing?

 

Edit: I updated the Google search to be "jasmer site:geocaching.com/seek/cache_details" and this returned only cache page links

Edited by GeePa
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Technique counts. Try googling 40 "not prime" geocache. Bingo - first result.

 

Putting "not prime" within quotes makes it mandatory that the phrase appears as-is, not just "not" or just "prime". It's a way of narrowing down the field. "Geocache" narrows it down a lot too.

 

I found at least one Jasmer Challenge (are there more?) with "jasmer challenge" geocache.

Found a whole bunch of Jasmers with "jasmer challenge" "cache by".

Edited by Viajero Perdido
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Instead of using GC.com's previously serviceable search engine we now have to learn various Google protocols and workarounds? Give me a break.

I haven't seen anyone suggest that we have to use Google to do anything.

 

What I have seen is people offering suggestions for working around current search limitations on geocaching.com.

 

It is perfectly fine for people to both point out perceived issues with the web site and offer suggestions for effectively working around the issues. Feel free to ignore the suggestions if you like.

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Instead of using GC.com's previously serviceable search engine we now have to learn various Google protocols and workarounds? Give me a break.

I haven't seen anyone suggest that we have to use Google to do anything.

 

What I have seen is people offering suggestions for working around current search limitations on geocaching.com.

 

It is perfectly fine for people to both point out perceived issues with the web site and offer suggestions for effectively working around the issues. Feel free to ignore the suggestions if you like.

I think it's a given that no one can make another do something. The poster was expressing frustration at the lack of a workable solution from GC.com, not at a fellow poster for offering an alternative. Of course suggestions are welcome.

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Instead of using GC.com's previously serviceable search engine we now have to learn various Google protocols and workarounds? Give me a break.

I haven't seen anyone suggest that we have to use Google to do anything.

 

What I have seen is people offering suggestions for working around current search limitations on geocaching.com.

 

It is perfectly fine for people to both point out perceived issues with the web site and offer suggestions for effectively working around the issues. Feel free to ignore the suggestions if you like.

 

My frustration is not directed at those offering the workarounds, it is directed at the change itself. Forgive me for not making that clear. <_<

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Technique counts. Try googling 40 "not prime" geocache. Bingo - first result.

 

Putting "not prime" within quotes makes it mandatory that the phrase appears as-is, not just "not" or just "prime". It's a way of narrowing down the field. "Geocache" narrows it down a lot too.

I got 10 results, none of them related to Geocaching.com.

Edited by Kacher82
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I've been thinking of another possible work-around, which I haven't tried. Create a pocket query (assuming you're a Premium member), using the keywords, and bring up the results page. That would be like an advanced search.

 

Edit: Forget that. Pocket queries don't have a keyword option.

Edited by Kacher82
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My frustration is not directed at those offering the workarounds, it is directed at the change itself. Forgive me for not making that clear. <_<

I understand your frustration.

 

I was just trying to point out that some contributors to this topic are trying to help by offering suggestions to work around the issues. Responding to such suggestions with "give me a break" doesn't seem to be very respectful of those suggestions.

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I've been thinking of another possible work-around, which I haven't tried. Create a pocket query (assuming you're a Premium member), using the keywords, and bring up the results page. That would be like an advanced search.

 

Edit: Forget that. Pocket queries don't have a keyword option.

keywords on PQ?

You'd think they could. It's basically an advanced search. More so than the so-called "advanced search" on the search page.

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BTW, it only took about 5 seconds for me to type "40 prime site:geocaching.com/seek" into Google. The cache you seek is the first hit.

I just copied and pasted your search into my search box, and got 58 results, none of which was what I wanted. I guess Google search doesn't work for me. I don't know if it makes a difference, but my searches get rerouted through a filter, which seems to have its own Google-powered search engine.

I guess I'll just have to use the map, if I happen to know the approximate area.

 

And, I get 69,200 results with the cache you are looking for first. The fact that you were rerouted through a filter is disturbing. If something is affecting your Google searches, then you have an undesirable tool bar installed, or you have malware on your computer.

 

I also agree that we shouldn't have to go to another web site to search for caches on this site, but in that regard, nothing has changed. The old version of advanced search was just as useless, just in a different way.

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BTW, it only took about 5 seconds for me to type "40 prime site:geocaching.com/seek" into Google. The cache you seek is the first hit.

I just copied and pasted your search into my search box, and got 58 results, none of which was what I wanted. I guess Google search doesn't work for me. I don't know if it makes a difference, but my searches get rerouted through a filter, which seems to have its own Google-powered search engine.

I guess I'll just have to use the map, if I happen to know the approximate area.

 

And, I get 69,200 results with the cache you are looking for first. The fact that you were rerouted through a filter is disturbing. If something is affecting your Google searches, then you have an undesirable tool bar installed, or you have malware on your computer.

 

I also agree that we shouldn't have to go to another web site to search for caches on this site, but in that regard, nothing has changed. The old version of advanced search was just as useless, just in a different way.

The filter is one I installed on my computer for the purpose of blocking undesirable content. It works very well, and is not malware.

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It is perfectly fine for people to both point out perceived issues with the web site and offer suggestions for effectively working around the issues. Feel free to ignore the suggestions if you like.

 

Sounds like something I used to say. Thinking someday it would matter.

Did it work out for you? Give me some hope - please tell me it turned out that on at least one wonderful, glorious, sunshiney day, for at least one brief tiny moment, it actually mattered. :D

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Ya, Google's not the answer. Try finding something more generic like "Challenge caches" or Jasmer Challenges". You can get a bunch of forum stuff and what do you do with all the individual links?

 

At the bottom of all Google Search results pages is Advanced Search. Fill in the blanks and it will build this search string, which will give an idea of how it works.

 

allintitle: Jasmer Challenge --log site:geocaching.com/seek

 

This gives 67 results, all caches with the words Jasmer and Challenge in their titles. If you don't add the --log, you get a bunch of results of logs on those caches.

 

Of course, something like this on Geocaching.com would be great, but the fact is, it's not here, so I'm just trying to be helpful and show people how to do what they want to do. Frankly, I don't understand the resistance.

Edited by Don_J
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Google search suddenly started working. I tried Don J's method using "allintitle", in the toolbar search box, which was set to Google. Got no results, on my filter page. Changed the search box to AVG search, same result. Changed back to Google, and got the Google results page, with the cache I was looking for at the top of the list. Must have been a glitch in my system. The "--log" didn't seem to work, though. I had 5 total results, the one cache page and 4 logs, 3 of them "publish" for 3 different caches, and one in a foreign language.

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I generally don't complain about any of the features on this site, but do have to agree about this one. The "Starts with" would be better named "Starts and ends with". I have to find two caches in the alphanumeric cache name list, a 6 and an 8. Typing those in gives a list of caches named 6 or 8. I was hoping it would list all caches that start with those but have either numbers/letters/words to go along with the number. Worthless "tool" as far as I'm concerned.

 

The google search syntax for finding a something which "starts with" or "ends with" a string is to use the "^" character at the beginning or a "$" character at the end. For example, ^40 would find records which started with a 40 and ache$ would match anything which ended with "ache". It also uses the "*" character to match multiple characters (i.e. *ime would match prime, or time). It uses the "?" character to match a single character (i.e. ?ime would match time, but not prime).

 

This search syntax is the default when use the Lucene search API. If GS used Lucene, it would require an indexing of their database using the Lucene Indexer, then all search requests would go against the Lucence index and all of the Google search syntax would be available. One could do queries like "Challenge" AND "Fizzy" state:Michigan and it would should all fizzy challenges in Michigan.

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My frustration is not directed at those offering the workarounds, it is directed at the change itself. Forgive me for not making that clear. <_<

I understand your frustration.

 

I was just trying to point out that some contributors to this topic are trying to help by offering suggestions to work around the issues. Responding to such suggestions with "give me a break" doesn't seem to be very respectful of those suggestions.

 

Once again there seems to be a failure to communicate. I believe this may be the first time this has ever happened in the annals of Usenet, newsgroups, discussion forums,the interwebs, or social media.

 

My original statement was directed at the Lilypad. It was in no way directed at my fine cohorts here who have imparted knowledge regarding the intricacies of Google search that I was heretofore unaware of. I thank them for their valuable input.

 

I restate: "Lilypad, you have made a previously minimally acceptable search function now virtually useless. I'm sure you had good reasons. Now the lesser erudite of us need to get advice from your customer base on how to comprehend some of the more arcane features of Google in order to affect a workaround. Lilypad, give me a break."

 

failure-to-communicate.jpg

What we have here is a failure to communicate.

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I restate: "Lilypad, you have made a previously minimally acceptable search function now virtually useless. I'm sure you had good reasons. Now the lesser erudite of us need to get advice from your customer base on how to comprehend some of the more arcane features of Google in order to affect a workaround. Lilypad, give me a break."

Ah, ok. Gotcha!

 

Thanks for the clarification.

 

What we have here is a failure to communicate.

Cool Hand Luke - one of my all-time favorite movies! :D

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I can search "alley" on Google and instantly get links to 74 million pages on the internet that match.

 

But geocaching.com removed the ability to find the 540 caches with the word "alley" in the title because the search is just too difficult. Wow...

 

I had hopes Groundspeak would improve the search capability to allow searches by state or country.

 

Instead they degraded the search capability so much that it's practically useless now.

 

With every "improvement" to geocaching.com, I rely on third party tools more and more.

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Yeah well, maybe if Groundspeak had the money that Google does then their search would work that way. But they don't, so it doesn't. As someone who works in IT, I understand why Groundspeak has done this - and if you read their explanation, it makes complete sense. Note that you can always use Google to search for your caches by name - it works too...

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Yeah well, maybe if Groundspeak had the money that Google does then their search would work that way. But they don't, so it doesn't. As someone who works in IT, I understand why Groundspeak has done this - and if you read their explanation, it makes complete sense. Note that you can always use Google to search for your caches by name - it works too...

 

Google is free (if you're willing to ignore their advertisements).

 

I pay $30 to Groundspeak annually for "Premium" membership (plus they sell advertisements on their pages). And I can't even search for words in titles of caches!!?!

 

No, it DOESN'T make complete sense to me!

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Yeah well, maybe if Groundspeak had the money that Google does then their search would work that way. But they don't, so it doesn't. As someone who works in IT, I understand why Groundspeak has done this - and if you read their explanation, it makes complete sense. Note that you can always use Google to search for your caches by name - it works too...

 

Google is free (if you're willing to ignore their advertisements).

 

I pay $30 to Groundspeak annually for "Premium" membership (plus they sell advertisements on their pages). And I can't even search for words in titles of caches!!?!

 

No, it DOESN'T make complete sense to me!

 

Just check out the market capitalisation of Google. They have way more money than Groundspeak, even if it doesn't come directly from you.

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Yeah well, maybe if Groundspeak had the money that Google does then their search would work that way. But they don't, so it doesn't. As someone who works in IT, I understand why Groundspeak has done this - and if you read their explanation, it makes complete sense. Note that you can always use Google to search for your caches by name - it works too...

 

It doesn't take a Google sized budget to create a search engine that uses the Google search syntax, and provides filtering/faceting on multiple fields. I work in a small IT department as well, and I've done it myself using open source software (Apache Lucene) for a site I developed for a well known government agency. While a Google search can be used ot search for caches by name, it is not indexing all of the field in groundspeaks database, thus you can't, for example, search for caches which include "challenge" in the title and have a difficulty rating less than 4. That would be fairly easy to do using Lucene (or Solr).

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