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Support Links & Weighted Searches

  1. Aug 18, 2008 #1

    mysearch

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    Gold Member

    Hi,
    I consider the PF to be extremely well run, so the intention of my feedback is not meant to be critical.

    Recently in the Cosmology forum I noticed a failure to display some Latex equations, but was initially unsure whether the problem was with my own system or where to post an inquiry to the PF itself. As such, I simply posted a message within the thread with the problem asking whether any other member was seeing the same problem. Subsequently, I got a response from a PF mentor pointing to this forum. The following links are simply references to this exchange:

    My Message:
    https://www.physicsforums.com/showpost.php?p=1837859&postcount=10
    PF Mentor:
    https://www.physicsforums.com/showpost.php?p=1838465&postcount=13

    Have you ever considered adding another link to the top line of every PF page?
    e.g. My PF|Upgrade|Blogs| Library| Staff|………..|Support?|

    While here, I thought I might as well post another idea, which may or may not be available, i.e. possibly upgrading to ‘Gold’ status addresses this issue? However, if you search on a key word, it seems to return a list of all threads that simply contains the word in question, e.g. “big bang”, returns 463 threads, each with potentially dozens of posts.

    Is it possible for the PF to consider more weighted searches?

    For example, if some sort of rating system could weight each thread, it might allow people to filter to the required level, e.g.

    Level-rating: beginner, intermediate, advance
    Star-rating: 1-5


    Let mentors assign the level-rating and users the star-rating. Just a thought. Thanks
     
  2. jcsd
  3. Aug 18, 2008 #2

    Defennder

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    Homework Helper

    The problem with the weighting system is that few would probably use it. It's just like the tags system. Not enough people use it for it to be useful. Ranking search results according to a rating which few use would make the search function really bad. It might end up making some stuff harder to find.
     
  4. Aug 18, 2008 #3

    mysearch

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    Gold Member

    Hi Defennder,
    Thanks for the response, I guess there is no real mileage arguing the point, but wanted to just table a few additional comments:

    - Don’t really understand how it would make stuff harder to find, as by default, the system would simply work as it does today, i.e. it would ignore the level-rating and star-rating unless specifically requested.

    - I assume that PF mentors pretty much check new postings as they come in; so tagging a level-rating per thread shouldn’t be too onerous and would be under the control of the PF itself. To start the ball rolling, the star-rating could be initially automated to simply reflect the number of views.

    - Whether it would be used enough to be worth the effort is a valid question, but I guess it depends on the PF business plan, i.e. does the PF want to just continue as a chat forum or develop the contributions to be accessible as a `knowledge base’? If the latter, then I believe you need to be looking at better ways of segregating and accessing information by user requirements.
     
  5. Aug 18, 2008 #4

    Defennder

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    You may not be aware of this, but PF once had a feature which allowed thread ratings. See here:
    https://www.physicsforums.com/showthread.php?t=167

    It was discontinued due to low usage. As it is, I consider PF to be much more than a chat forum. Personally, I don't use the search function; I use Google's site search instead.
     
  6. Aug 18, 2008 #5

    mysearch

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    Gold Member

    OK, but could you outline a recommended method for doing a useful, i.e. weighted, search on the example “big bang cosmology” across the PF archive that will sort the ‘wheat from the chaff`? Thanks
     
  7. Aug 18, 2008 #6

    Defennder

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    Like I said, I use Google site search. Just postfix "site:physicsforums.com" to your search query and it'll search PF only.
     
  8. Aug 18, 2008 #7
    vB search is a hot topic right now in the development circle. I think it will be improved in the next release.
     
  9. Aug 18, 2008 #8

    mysearch

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    Gold Member

    On that note I will sign off, but thanks to `Defennder`, the site search was by far the better route on the few cases I tested, e.g.

    "site search" site:physicsforums.com:wink:
    45 minutes ago - Support Links & Weighted Searches: As it is, I consider PF to be much more than a chat forum. Personally, I don't use the search function; I use Google's site search instead. ...www.physicsforums.com/showthread.php?p=1839037
     
  10. Aug 18, 2008 #9

    Moonbear

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    Science Advisor
    Gold Member

    Yes, Google indexes our site pretty quickly, so that is a good way to search.

    The tag feature is still relatively new, but I suspect that as it gains more usage, it will become more helpful as a more relevant keyword search tool. Otherwise, yep, we're all aware of the limitations of the vB search tool. :rolleyes:
     
  11. Aug 18, 2008 #10

    Evo

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    Staff: Mentor

    We don't have a "thread rating" because with each new post, whether the thread was any good would become meaningless.

    The "tags" are personal. Some one will tag a thread with something that means something to them so that they can find it again, which is of use to no one but themselves, or they tag the thread with all kinds of things which may or may not be correct. I often find people tagging threads with words that don't apply. This will create poor search results.

    I see the tags as a useful way of finding something you want to keep track of, but since mentors don't control the tagging, it's hit or miss if you search on a specific word.
     
  12. Aug 19, 2008 #11

    mysearch

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    Hi,
    Thanks for the updates on the system. I don’t want to overstay my welcome, but for what it is worth, here’s are my first impressions as a relatively new member:

    - Essentially I stumbled over a link to the PF and eventually found the homepage, check out a few of the sub-forums and reflected on the level of discussion. On this basis, I signed up and asked a question, i.e. opened a thread.

    - Over a period of time I raised questions in a number of sub-forums of interest, which I found very helpful. However, I implicitly understood the relevance of these thread, but rarely attempted to use the PF as a wider source of information, because the ‘good stuff’ seems hard to find in comparison to other sites pointed to by a standard Google search. As stated, the site search is a helpful tip, but one that many members may not have tried, if they default to the PF search.

    - If you look at your homepage, there is just the top line navigation bar, i.e. My PF|Upgrade|Blogs| Library| Staff|, followed by a breakdown of the sub-forums. Note this feedback forum is buried at the bottom of this list and its function, as a main (?) ‘help & support’ page, is not really obvious.

    - As such, I have probably remained fairly ignorant of the PF facilities and have not been inclined to raise any issues encountered. You may now think this is a good thing:rolleyes:, but any service product can benefit from ‘customer’ feedback.

    - Therefore I would simply like to reiterate the suggestion for a support/help link on the top-level navigation bar, which takes you to a structured page that guides you to more information about your facilities, e.g. how to search, use of tags, top-10 user tips, member user guide (pdf download) etc.

    Did a site search on tags, see below, but still not sure I understand how to use them, plus I don’t think personal tags really address the wider issue of making the information locked in the PF archive a more valuable knowledge base. Please note, I still find the PF to be one of the most valuable educational facilities on the web.

    "tags" site:physicsforums.com
    Physics Help and Math Help - Physics Forums - Threads Tagged with tags- 09:49Threads Tagged with tags. Thread / Thread Starter, Last Post, Replies, Views, Forum. image. tag cloud, tagging, tagging system, tags ...
    www.physicsforums.com/tags.php?tag=tags
     
  13. Aug 20, 2008 #12

    Evo

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    Staff: Mentor

    I think you raise a good issue. We should have some sort of "User's Guide". There has been a similar question just posted here.

    I think something that goes from the basics of how to tell if you've completed registration, to how to use the 'quote' function in replying, to more advanced features is needed.

    Let's see what we can do.
     
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