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This thread is a partial duplicate of this thread but the mod who originally responded seemed unwilling or unable (I'm not sure which) to respond to certain aspects of it because of where it was posted.

 

Hopefully this is the proper place to raise these queries - a little copy-and-paste

 

So there's a local challenge cache that I almost qualify for - I need to find caches with names which start with 0 to 9 in number and chronological order.

 

So I'd obviously like to search out those caches closest to me which would enable me to complete the challenge - but the search function on geocaching.com seems... limited?

 

Firstly there's a text box there on the search form labelled Cache Starts with - so I type 8 in there - expecting to see caches with names which begin with 8 followed by any other string of characters... nope :( All I get back is a list of caches called 8 - even though I know caches with names which match what I'm looking for exist.

 

Is that text field incorrectly named? Should it be named Cache is called?

 

Even if the search form returned a suitable list of results - I'm not sure it would order that list based on distance from my home coordinates - probably not :(

 

Is the search function fundamentally broken, or am I just doing something wrong?

 

Are there any wildcards I can use in the search string to get the results I need?

 

Yes, it's true that not every advanced search feature is available on the website. But by partnering with API partners like GSAK and Project-GC, the API allows for very rich features without so much strain on the live database.

 

When I see a text box labelled Cache Starts with I don't expect it to return a list which includes only caches which start and end with exactly and only what I type into that box :blink:

 

Nor would I class this as an advanced search feature - surely it's just a standard sliding search query?

 

I'm also confused as to how offloading the ability to run a standard sliding search to an API partner reduces the strain on the live database - unless the API partner has a local copy of the database?

 

In fact it's not even a sliding search - that would search for the given string anywhere in the chosen field, which would be more processor intensive than the simple search we're talking about here.

 

Seems a shame to duplicate large chunks of the thread but hopefully it's now in the proper place for continued contextual dialogue with TPTB :)

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We had the sliding search until about six months ago. It was degraded because it was starting to cause a big hit on the database and was slowing down the web site. When it was there, it still was just about useless. As an example, if I was looking for "Mingo", (the oldest active cache), I would get dozens of pages of "Flamingos", with Mingo somewhere around the fifth page.

 

If I wanted local caches with the word "Gold" in their name, I would get 100's of pages of caches located all over the world with no obvious sort order and no way to sort it. I could get all caches in California, over 100,000 if I wanted, but no way to search that for "Gold", plus, California is a big place with over 100,000 active caches.

 

What we had was just about useless and what we have now is in my opinion, totally useless, however, instead if investing time and effort on it, I'd like to see them turn the PQ feature into a true "Advanced Search" with name search, string search, placed by, found by, has <=> favorite points, etc.

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We had the sliding search until about six months ago. It was degraded because it was starting to cause a big hit on the database and was slowing down the web site. When it was there, it still was just about useless. As an example, if I was looking for "Mingo", (the oldest active cache), I would get dozens of pages of "Flamingos", with Mingo somewhere around the fifth page.

 

I did realise after mentioning sliding search that I'd used the wrong identifier - I expect sliding search would be a bigger hit on the servers than the simple wildcard search I expect to be performed when I type something in that box and hit the button.

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This thread is a partial duplicate of this thread but the mod who originally responded seemed unwilling or unable (I'm not sure which) to respond to certain aspects of it because of where it was posted.

That was rude of you to label me as "unwilling or unable" to assist you. I made several posts to your prior thread. I am a volunteer; I do not work full time for Groundspeak and I do not do an hourly check on every forum thread I've posted to, just to see if someone had a follow up question. I am taking time away from my paying job right now to let you know I won't be assisting you further. In passing, I commend the following prior threads for background reading; these are just a sample and, arguably, this one ought to be closed as a duplicate.

 

http://forums.Groundspeak.com/GC/index.php?showtopic=309945&st=0&p=5237320entry5237320

http://forums.Groundspeak.com/GC/index.php?showtopic=309792&st=0&p=5235496entry5235496

http://forums.Groundspeak.com/GC/index.php?showtopic=312376

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This thread is a partial duplicate of this thread but the mod who originally responded seemed unwilling or unable (I'm not sure which) to respond to certain aspects of it because of where it was posted.

That was rude of you to label me as "unwilling or unable" to assist you. I made several posts to your prior thread. I am a volunteer; I do not work full time for Groundspeak and I do not do an hourly check on every forum thread I've posted to, just to see if someone had a follow up question. I am taking time away from my paying job right now to let you know I won't be assisting you further. In passing, I commend the following prior threads for background reading; these are just a sample and, arguably, this one ought to be closed as a duplicate.

 

http://forums.Groundspeak.com/GC/index.php?showtopic=309945&st=0&p=5237320entry5237320

http://forums.Groundspeak.com/GC/index.php?showtopic=309792&st=0&p=5235496entry5235496

http://forums.Groundspeak.com/GC/index.php?showtopic=312376

 

So you were unable to respond to my queries due to other commitments?

 

So how was me guessing that was the case and doing my best to progress things and follow your original suggestion that my post was in the wrong forum rude exactly?

 

Thanks for the information on the other threads though - although I'm guessing that they probably hit brick walls also - but I will take time out to check them out later.

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This thread is a partial duplicate of this thread but the mod who originally responded seemed unwilling or unable (I'm not sure which) to respond to certain aspects of it because of where it was posted.

That was rude of you to label me as "unwilling or unable" to assist you. I made several posts to your prior thread. I am a volunteer; I do not work full time for Groundspeak and I do not do an hourly check on every forum thread I've posted to, just to see if someone had a follow up question. I am taking time away from my paying job right now to let you know I won't be assisting you further. In passing, I commend the following prior threads for background reading; these are just a sample and, arguably, this one ought to be closed as a duplicate.

 

http://forums.Groundspeak.com/GC/index.php?showtopic=309945&st=0&p=5237320entry5237320

http://forums.Groundspeak.com/GC/index.php?showtopic=309792&st=0&p=5235496entry5235496

http://forums.Groundspeak.com/GC/index.php?showtopic=312376

 

So you were unable to respond to my queries due to other commitments?

 

So how was me guessing that was the case and doing my best to progress things and follow your original suggestion that my post was in the wrong forum rude exactly?

 

Thanks for the information on the other threads though - although I'm guessing that they probably hit brick walls also - but I will take time out to check them out later.

 

You need to consider the fact that when Keystone responded to you in the "How To" forum, he did so as any other geocacher that was trying to help you accomplish your goal, not as a moderator or an official spokesperson for Groundspeak. His obligation to respond to your further questions, is no greater than mine or any other forum user.

 

Personally, I didn't respond to those questions in that forum because I considered getting into a discussion of why the web site doesn't work as you expect to be OT for that forum.

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This thread is a partial duplicate of this thread but the mod who originally responded seemed unwilling or unable (I'm not sure which) to respond to certain aspects of it because of where it was posted.

That was rude of you to label me as "unwilling or unable" to assist you. I made several posts to your prior thread. I am a volunteer; I do not work full time for Groundspeak and I do not do an hourly check on every forum thread I've posted to, just to see if someone had a follow up question. I am taking time away from my paying job right now to let you know I won't be assisting you further. In passing, I commend the following prior threads for background reading; these are just a sample and, arguably, this one ought to be closed as a duplicate.

 

http://forums.Groundspeak.com/GC/index.php?showtopic=309945&st=0&p=5237320entry5237320

http://forums.Groundspeak.com/GC/index.php?showtopic=309792&st=0&p=5235496entry5235496

http://forums.Groundspeak.com/GC/index.php?showtopic=312376

 

So you were unable to respond to my queries due to other commitments?

 

So how was me guessing that was the case and doing my best to progress things and follow your original suggestion that my post was in the wrong forum rude exactly?

 

Thanks for the information on the other threads though - although I'm guessing that they probably hit brick walls also - but I will take time out to check them out later.

 

You need to consider the fact that when Keystone responded to you in the "How To" forum, he did so as any other geocacher that was trying to help you accomplish your goal, not as a moderator or an official spokesperson for Groundspeak. His obligation to respond to your further questions, is no greater than mine or any other forum user.

 

Okay - I'll take that into consideration.

 

It would seem then that the forum is lacking in individuals who do engage in dialogue as official spokespersons for Groundspeak - at least on this topic given the number of threads which have clearly run into brick walls?

 

Personally, I didn't respond to those questions in that forum because I considered getting into a discussion of why the web site doesn't work as you expect to be OT for that forum.

 

Which is why I ended up duplicating most of the thread again here - not that it's achieved any meaningful progress so far but I'm repeating myself, again.

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This thread is a partial duplicate of this thread but the mod who originally responded seemed unwilling or unable (I'm not sure which) to respond to certain aspects of it because of where it was posted.

That was rude of you to label me as "unwilling or unable" to assist you. I made several posts to your prior thread. I am a volunteer; I do not work full time for Groundspeak and I do not do an hourly check on every forum thread I've posted to, just to see if someone had a follow up question. I am taking time away from my paying job right now to let you know I won't be assisting you further. In passing, I commend the following prior threads for background reading; these are just a sample and, arguably, this one ought to be closed as a duplicate.

 

http://forums.Groundspeak.com/GC/index.php?showtopic=309945&st=0&p=5237320entry5237320

http://forums.Groundspeak.com/GC/index.php?showtopic=309792&st=0&p=5235496entry5235496

http://forums.Groundspeak.com/GC/index.php?showtopic=312376

 

So you were unable to respond to my queries due to other commitments?

 

So how was me guessing that was the case and doing my best to progress things and follow your original suggestion that my post was in the wrong forum rude exactly?

 

Thanks for the information on the other threads though - although I'm guessing that they probably hit brick walls also - but I will take time out to check them out later.

 

You need to consider the fact that when Keystone responded to you in the "How To" forum, he did so as any other geocacher that was trying to help you accomplish your goal, not as a moderator or an official spokesperson for Groundspeak. His obligation to respond to your further questions, is no greater than mine or any other forum user.

 

Okay - I'll take that into consideration.

 

It would seem then that the forum is lacking in individuals who do engage in dialogue as official spokespersons for Groundspeak - at least on this topic given the number of threads which have clearly run into brick walls?

 

 

Things are looking better. Over the last month or two, we are seeing more involvement with some of the official Groundspeak "Lackeys" in this and the Geocaching Topics forum.

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We had the sliding search until about six months ago. It was degraded because it was starting to cause a big hit on the database and was slowing down the web site. When it was there, it still was just about useless.

While it had its quirks -- and thanks for the clear description of some of them, by the way -- I was actually quite surprised how often the previous search showed me the cache I was seeking in the first page if not the first line. The new search still produces useful results once in a while, although far less frequently.

 

It would seem then that the forum is lacking in individuals who do engage in dialogue as official spokespersons for Groundspeak - at least on this topic given the number of threads which have clearly run into brick walls?

Can you elaborate more on what's missing? As far as I can see, your questions have all been answered, so I have to imagine what brick walls you're seeing. All I can think of is that you want someone to respond, "Yes, sir, we'll implement that right away, sir," since, "That's an interesting feature that's been suggested and discussed before," doesn't seem to be satisfying you.

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Can you elaborate more on what's missing? As far as I can see, your questions have all been answered, so I have to imagine what brick walls you're seeing. All I can think of is that you want someone to respond, "Yes, sir, we'll implement that right away, sir," since, "That's an interesting feature that's been suggested and discussed before," doesn't seem to be satisfying you.

 

I thought I already explained in sufficient detail at the start of the thread what my expectations of the search function were - given the field desciption of Starts with

 

Your "Yes, sir" theory is incorrect - although I have to admit it would be nice if the search facility was improved that quickly.

 

Rather I was looking to understand more about the reasons why such a basic search function was apparently having such a negative impact on Groundspeak's servers which, I imagine, requires some open dialogue with Groundspeak themselves.

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Things are looking better. Over the last month or two, we are seeing more involvement with some of the official Groundspeak "Lackeys" in this and the Geocaching Topics forum.

 

Sadly - I'm not seeing an abundance of evidence to support that assertion :(

 

It looks to me like the earplugs are just as firmly wedged in for this thread as they were for the ones linked previously by Keystone.

 

Do you have questions? We've got answers!

 

Not much use unless they are exchanged though huh? :rolleyes:

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Things are looking better. Over the last month or two, we are seeing more involvement with some of the official Groundspeak "Lackeys" in this and the Geocaching Topics forum.

 

Sadly - I'm not seeing an abundance of evidence to support that assertion :(

 

 

Have a look at the posts of Jayme H then. Not necessarily on this specific topic, but a great many others.

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Things are looking better. Over the last month or two, we are seeing more involvement with some of the official Groundspeak "Lackeys" in this and the Geocaching Topics forum.

 

Sadly - I'm not seeing an abundance of evidence to support that assertion :(

 

 

Have a look at the posts of Jayme H then. Not necessarily on this specific topic, but a great many others.

 

This is the subject I'm interested in right now.

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Hi guys,

 

Happy Monday! Yep, HQ has been trying to be more active in the forums lately. It doesn't always mean that we get to all the threads in a timely manner or everything that you would like to see fixed, but at least you know that there are a few souls walking around HQ that have your requests in their head. As for this question, I don't have an answer for you today - my technical caped co-hort in crime is off enjoying Veteran's Day with the family. I will check to see what is going on with this functionality upon his return.

 

Thank you to all the wonderful moderators and other super helpful community members for offering their help, background, and insight to this thread. Next time I see you, coffee is on me. :) I'm serious.

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Hi guys,

 

Happy Monday! Yep, HQ has been trying to be more active in the forums lately. It doesn't always mean that we get to all the threads in a timely manner or everything that you would like to see fixed, but at least you know that there are a few souls walking around HQ that have your requests in their head. As for this question, I don't have an answer for you today - my technical caped co-hort in crime is off enjoying Veteran's Day with the family. I will check to see what is going on with this functionality upon his return.

 

Thank you to all the wonderful moderators and other super helpful community members for offering their help, background, and insight to this thread. Next time I see you, coffee is on me. :) I'm serious.

 

Jayme, your enthusiasm is infectious. I wouldn't have been so nice, but reading your post pushed all of the negative comments right out of my head.

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Awww...thanks Don. Some days are more enthusiastic than others, but it feels nice that it is noticed, because it is a choice that I make. :)

 

Plus, I really like you guys. Our little online community can be quite cozy. I kinda feel like we have a mini event every day.

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Soooo...it took me a few days to wrangle up some intel on this one. Sorry about that.

 

I spoke with one of our developers and learned a bit about why our search isn't the most helpful.

 

The short answer is that search indexing is really flippin' hard. It's why Google makes billions of dollars and keeps its search algorithm top secret. We just don't have the technology to do it well and keyword search using our existing technology is too hard of a hit on our database. We have really tried to perfect the search for finding geocaches that are close to you, whereas other companies have spent their resources on other search functions - like searching by keyword.

 

Here is an option for doing this in a really hacky way, if you are interested:


     
  • create a generic PQ near your area
  • download the GPX and view it in a text editor
  • search the XML file for <Groundspeak:name>8 or <Groundspeak:name>eight (that'll show you any caches that meet the criteria for the "8/eight" specific cache to help you qualify for the challenge)
  • you can pick various cities around your location and center the PQ there

 

or...try Keystone's suggestion and use project-gc.com for your keyword search.

 

Though we are always trying to make improvements I hope this helps clarify our current limitations.

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Awww...thanks Don. Some days are more enthusiastic than others, but it feels nice that it is noticed, because it is a choice that I make. :)

 

Plus, I really like you guys. Our little online community can be quite cozy. I kinda feel like we have a mini event every day.

 

Is there a souvenir for that? :unsure:

 

:D

 

Bwhahahahaha....cracking me up here. :lol: Thanks for that.

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Soooo...it took me a few days to wrangle up some intel on this one. Sorry about that.

 

I spoke with one of our developers and learned a bit about why our search isn't the most helpful.

 

The short answer is that search indexing is really flippin' hard. It's why Google makes billions of dollars and keeps its search algorithm top secret. We just don't have the technology to do it well and keyword search using our existing technology is too hard of a hit on our database. We have really tried to perfect the search for finding geocaches that are close to you, whereas other companies have spent their resources on other search functions - like searching by keyword.

 

Here is an option for doing this in a really hacky way, if you are interested:


  •  
  • create a generic PQ near your area
  • download the GPX and view it in a text editor
  • search the XML file for <Groundspeak:name>8 or <Groundspeak:name>eight (that'll show you any caches that meet the criteria for the "8/eight" specific cache to help you qualify for the challenge)
  • you can pick various cities around your location and center the PQ there

 

or...try Keystone's suggestion and use project-gc.com for your keyword search.

 

Though we are always trying to make improvements I hope this helps clarify our current limitations.

 

Thanks for the feedback - I appreciate the effort you've gone to :)

 

I am still struggling to accept certain aspects of the information though.

 

Sure Google are top of their tree in what they do - no doubt there.

 

What Google does though - especially in terms of search indexing - or the really flippin' hard part as you put it is light-years away from what I would hope that a search function labelled Starts with would do. We must remember of course that at present it doesn't do that at all - it returns only cache names which match exactly what is typed into that box - and nothing else. There's an awful lot of cache names which match the given ctiteria which are never returned - so in that regard it is fundamentally broken and should probably either be fixed or removed.

 

Google performs full text indexing of entire web pages and sites in what I can only assume are clever and complex ways. That degree of indexing to the best of my knowledge simply isn't required in order to allow the search function on geocaching.com to do what it claims to do - return a list of caches which begin with a given search string which is guaranteed to be found in a single known field within a pre-populated database table. Any SQL database already has sufficient functionality out of the box to to that standing on its head.

 

Is it that the indexing by cache name has had to be turned off to free up resource for other aspects of database functionality and thus search is difficult / impossible because there's no index on that field?

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Soooo...it took me a few days to wrangle up some intel on this one. Sorry about that.

 

I spoke with one of our developers and learned a bit about why our search isn't the most helpful.

 

The short answer is that search indexing is really flippin' hard. It's why Google makes billions of dollars and keeps its search algorithm top secret. We just don't have the technology to do it well and keyword search using our existing technology is too hard of a hit on our database. We have really tried to perfect the search for finding geocaches that are to you, whereas other companies have spent their resources on other search functions - like searching by keyword.

 

I've suggested this several times before but I am curious if GS has evaluated Apache Solr for searching. I've developed with it on several projects and it's not especially difficult and you don't need to know some super secret search algorithm to make it work.

First of all, the search doesn't execute against the database. The database (or other data source) is indexed into a solr index and that is what is searched. The search client code has things like starts with, ends with, fuzzy search (i.e. return items which included fishing or fishes when I type in fish), and a variety of other features. It provides google-like searching in that it uses the same search syntax. It also supports the notion of faceting. For example, you can create cache type or cache size as a facet. Then when you search for a term and get back results you can subsequently filter those results using facets, so that you filter out caches that are small or micros, and only display traditional caches.

I've seen a lot of different feature requests related to improving the search function and Solr could handle all of them, and most of them would require very little, if any development after Solr was implemented.

 

 

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Is it that the indexing by cache name has had to be turned off to free up resource for other aspects of database functionality and thus search is difficult / impossible because there's no index on that field?

 

See my explanation from back when we had to make this change.

 

FYI, we use Solr for searching on Waymarking.com and the engineering team is looking at the possibilities for using it on Geocaching.com.

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Is it that the indexing by cache name has had to be turned off to free up resource for other aspects of database functionality and thus search is difficult / impossible because there's no index on that field?

 

See my explanation from back when we had to make this change.

 

FYI, we use Solr for searching on Waymarking.com and the engineering team is looking at the possibilities for using it on Geocaching.com.

 

That's good to hear. In case you're wondering about how Solr scales. One of the projects I've been working on involved indexed our university library catalog into a Solr index. It has more fields that you'd find in the geocache database and has about 7 million records. I know of a site in Sweden that has a solr index with about 200 million records in it.

 

 

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Is it that the indexing by cache name has had to be turned off to free up resource for other aspects of database functionality and thus search is difficult / impossible because there's no index on that field?

 

See my explanation from back when we had to make this change.

 

FYI, we use Solr for searching on Waymarking.com and the engineering team is looking at the possibilities for using it on Geocaching.com.

 

Thanks for the continued and meaningful feedback B)

 

I did see your other link to that April thread this morning, and took the time to read through it in its entirety and felt more informed for doing so.

 

I'm also pleased to see that reviving the topic here has demonstrated that there are non-GS posters who are far better qualified than I to provide useful technical pointers back to GS - a win-win in my book :)

 

Hopefully GS will continue to investigate possibilities for restoring a working name-based search function to the site and be in a position to have that in place soon.

 

In any case, it's been well worth a review given that the last news was back in April :)

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