Search Update: Better and Faster Results for Beers

Discussion in 'BeerAdvocate Talk' started by Todd, Nov 22, 2019.

  1. Todd

    Todd Founder (5,895) Aug 23, 1996 California
    Staff Moderator Fest Crew Society

    Searching our site has always been a fragmented, cumbersome, pain in the ass. I'd love to provide an enterprise-level search solution for everyone, but lack of resources and running a bridge between our code and a third-party forum solution are challenges we've yet to conquer. One day!

    In the meantime, I've updated search on our end to make things better and faster.
    • First and foremost, the previous search was starting to create performance issues. This upgrade significantly reduces our overhead. It's not perfect, but should address any issues for now.
    • Simplified the search overlay (when you click the magnify glass icon in the navigation).
    • Results default to searching our beer database (beer + brewery name) using a fulltext boolean query with forced wildcard support. To be more specific, a match on all words is performed. And results are ordered by the number of ratings, followed by the search relevance score based on matches to your query. It's faster and more accurate search, however, it'll force users to be more specific with certain beers.
    • Results now include the beer's picture, name, style, ABV, score, and number of ratings to help make finding what you're looking for easier.
    • If only one result is found, the search will take you directly the beer's page.
    • Each word must be at least three characters long and some common words are ignored.
    • If any of the words fail, the query will be handed to our Google CSE.
    • Clicking "Search Places" on the results page will pass the same query to our place database (place name + city).
    • Search results are now treated as unique pages, which allows them to be index for increased SEO and discovery.
    • Quick beer search box added to the sidebar for most pages to help with discovery.
    • Bunch of other minor tweaks...
    I still have some tweaking to do, but that's it in a nutshell.

    Cheers! :beers:
     
  2. darktronica

    darktronica Poo-Bah (2,263) Aug 29, 2014 Indiana
    Society Trader

    Definitely noticing a speed increase, and I like not having to specify beer versus place with the old radio button! However, a "very strict fulltext boolean query" is a big step backwards into 1990s internet search. While it may increase speed on the server side, the overall time it takes for me to search for a beer on my phone has gone way up because I have to type complete words. If a beer has a common-sounding name (named after a style, silly hop puns, etc.), I often just add a few distinctive letters from the brewery name, like "rhine" instead of typing out "Rhinegeist." Now that returns no results. Maybe I'm outside the norm in doing this, who knows, but I'm guessing there are a sizable number of people who do this simply because they aren't great at spelling.

    Sometimes this results in counter-intuitive results, as well. For example, "Zhukov" goes straight to the page for the only variant that isn't listed as "Marshal Zhukov's" something, purely because of the apostrophe-S being missing. Another common issue that will arise from this is the case of compound words, where it can be very inconsistent in the database (or in brewery's official names) whether an entry uses the compound word or splits it into two words with a space in between. I'm used to splitting them out into two words by default when searching, because the results previously would have returned a more inclusive set of results.
     
  3. Todd

    Todd Founder (5,895) Aug 23, 1996 California
    Staff Moderator Fest Crew Society

    @darktronica We can definitely support this, and no doubt should, but we'll be trading precision (and probably some speed) for more results and less relevancy.

    Like I said, I still have some tweaking to do and will include some testing to explore and hopefully address your points without impacting performance.

    [Quick fix: I simply added a wildcard at the end of each search word. Your specific examples should work now.]
     
  4. darktronica

    darktronica Poo-Bah (2,263) Aug 29, 2014 Indiana
    Society Trader

    I certainly understand that people have divergent preferences, and that it's impossible to please everybody. But I hope we can all agree that having a small compromise hotfix implemented within two hours of some Random Joe mouthing off to the suggestion box is pretty badass. I always appreciate how receptive you devs are to feedback.
     
  5. woodychandler

    woodychandler Poo-Bah (10,126) Apr 9, 2004 Pennsylvania
    Society Trader

    I was quick to dun the site when the now-reversed decision was made to have a brewery's beer listings be by rating hierarchy vice alphabetical. I am grateful for the return to an alphabetical sort, but the thread was locked before I could express my gratitude.

    I also want to express my gratitude for the add of having an approved pic (or lack thereof) appear when searching for a beer. This saves me (at least) one step on The CANQuest (tm) since one of its main tenets is: "No reviews until an approved pic is in place!" This is because so many CANned beers are one-offs & there should be a historical record of their appearance, IMHO. Now, I CAN easily see where the beer stands in the process & I CAN ready my camera as needed. This is a real boon & one for which I am thankful as Thanksgiving approaches.
     
  6. LarryV

    LarryV Poo-Bah (1,525) Jun 13, 2001 Massachusetts
    Society

    Thank you Todd!
     
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  7. socon67

    socon67 Poo-Bah (1,845) Jun 18, 2010 New York

    Definitely appreciate the changes, Cheers!
     
    lucius10 and Todd like this.
  8. 7irondave

    7irondave Zealot (525) Jun 22, 2016 Massachusetts
    Trader

    Just tried to find a beer to rate it but no luck. :-1:
     
  9. Todd

    Todd Founder (5,895) Aug 23, 1996 California
    Staff Moderator Fest Crew Society

    This doesn't help. What was the exact search query? Did you not get results with the Google CSE backup results? Maybe the beer hasn't been entered yet?
     
  10. 7irondave

    7irondave Zealot (525) Jun 22, 2016 Massachusetts
    Trader

    Tried 'Lay Here' from The Veil with no results.

    Bunch of other stuff popped up, not the beer I tried to rate. Chose not to waste my time going down the rabbit hole

    I didn't take a screenshot of the results
     
  11. 7irondave

    7irondave Zealot (525) Jun 22, 2016 Massachusetts
    Trader

    TBH, I'm not sure what was hard with the last method to look up brewrries/beers. I've never had any issues.

    If it ain't broke, don't fix it

    Remind me why we fixed it
     
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  12. Todd

    Todd Founder (5,895) Aug 23, 1996 California
    Staff Moderator Fest Crew Society

    As previously suggested, that's because it hadn't been entered yet. We do rely on users to add new beers, but I went ahead and added this fairly new beer for you.

    https://www.beeradvocate.com/beer/profile/41018/451826/

    Now when you do a search for "Lay Here" it takes you directly to the beer's page.
    Scroll up. All the way up.

    [​IMG]
     
  13. woodychandler

    woodychandler Poo-Bah (10,126) Apr 9, 2004 Pennsylvania
    Society Trader

    Why CAN't I find a beer that doesn't exist in this site's database?!? Yinz guys are FUBAR! Miso angry! :stuck_out_tongue: Me know. Me add beer. NO pic, NO rating, NO review, NO Notes, One-off to guarantee retirement. All better!:grin:
     
  14. Harrison8

    Harrison8 Poo-Bah (3,746) Dec 6, 2015 Missouri
    Society Trader

    FYI - searching "Etain" only brings up the current beer. It took me some digging with the ctrl+f function within the brewery's 'all beer list' to find the "Etain" I was after (base beer).

    Does the default function skip over 'retired' beers?
     
  15. jjamadorphd

    jjamadorphd Meyvn (1,200) Jul 21, 2012 Florida
    Trader

    As someone who has done this sort of work, you know you can't please everyone, but I greatly appreciate your efforts and I continue to use BeerAdvocate over all the other beer sites - in my opinion, it is hands down the best. Keep up the good work.

    -----------------


     
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  16. Todd

    Todd Founder (5,895) Aug 23, 1996 California
    Staff Moderator Fest Crew Society

    Yes, but there's a checkbox to include them.
     
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  17. Harrison8

    Harrison8 Poo-Bah (3,746) Dec 6, 2015 Missouri
    Society Trader

    Where?

    Clicking the 'magnifying glass' in the upper right corner shows no options. Then when I searched the term, it took me directly to one beer profile (the only 'active' listing with the keyword after a very brief personal search).
     
  18. Todd

    Todd Founder (5,895) Aug 23, 1996 California
    Staff Moderator Fest Crew Society

    On the results page.
     
  19. Harrison8

    Harrison8 Poo-Bah (3,746) Dec 6, 2015 Missouri
    Society Trader

    Ahh, that's my issue - my search result returned a beer profile - not a results page.
     
  20. Todd

    Todd Founder (5,895) Aug 23, 1996 California
    Staff Moderator Fest Crew Society

    Yeah. Doesn't help you as it's redirecting to the only match. I'll think about how to handle this...after I eat some turkey and drink some more beer.
     
  21. Harrison8

    Harrison8 Poo-Bah (3,746) Dec 6, 2015 Missouri
    Society Trader

    No rush. I wanted to present my position and that I was getting the same result despite my efforts to otherwise (with the default options).

    Enjoy the holidays! Family is important.

    Cheers.
     
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  22. Todd

    Todd Founder (5,895) Aug 23, 1996 California
    Staff Moderator Fest Crew Society

    I basically reversed things. Searching now defaults to including inactive listings in the results. And you can use the checkbox to exclude them on the results page if necessary. This should solve the issue that you (and no doubt others) were experiencing.
     
  23. SonofBeerDude

    SonofBeerDude Initiate (87) Apr 11, 2010 Georgia

    My two cents: my M.O. has always been to search Places for the brewery. Rarely searched for a beer by name unless it was obviously unconventional. Then would browse the brewery's listed offerings. Easy peasy, plus also, consider that browsing may be a preferable search approach in that it allows for serendipity. Striving for precision in your new scheme is all well and good, and I empathize with your prioritizing performance, but I'm hoping this process will eventually return the "advanced search" interface if only for beer name and brewery place name. Cheers
     
  24. Todd

    Todd Founder (5,895) Aug 23, 1996 California
    Staff Moderator Fest Crew Society

    We've never had an "advanced search" for beers (what's in place now has essentially been in places for ages now, less the updates here), but for places there's always been this: https://www.beeradvocate.com/place/
     
  25. SonofBeerDude

    SonofBeerDude Initiate (87) Apr 11, 2010 Georgia

    In all honesty, I usually use BA to keep track of my "Gots." Say I wanted to locate Ommegang's Hennepin to see if I had ticked it off in the past. How would you suggest I do the search?
     
  26. Todd

    Todd Founder (5,895) Aug 23, 1996 California
    Staff Moderator Fest Crew Society

    Assuming you keep track of the beers you've had by rating them: https://www.beeradvocate.com/user/beers/?ba=SonofBeerDude
     
  27. SonofBeerDude

    SonofBeerDude Initiate (87) Apr 11, 2010 Georgia

    Thanks for the link. Did the trick.
     
    Todd likes this.
  28. SonofBeerDude

    SonofBeerDude Initiate (87) Apr 11, 2010 Georgia

    Well, assuming that makes an ass out of u and me, cuz I don't rate my beers. Sorry I'm not a better contributor, but I do mightily appreciate all that you guys have put into the site
     
  29. rudzud

    rudzud Poo-Bah (6,697) Apr 28, 2010 Massachusetts
    Society Trader

    Someone has added the beer for you and I've gone and added a photograph of the can. The database for this website depends on individuals adding beers which means when a brewery drops something new, until it's added to the system the beer does not exist.
     
  30. dbrauneis

    dbrauneis Poo-Bah (8,520) Dec 8, 2007 North Carolina
    Moderator Society Trader

  31. Snowcrash000

    Snowcrash000 Poo-Bah (2,319) Oct 4, 2017 Germany
    Moderator Society Trader

    I've noticed that UK brewery North Brewing Co is pretty much impossible to find utilizing the current search function. Even when searching for the exact name that the brewery is listed under here at BA, plenty of other breweries with "north" in the title or from a US city starting with "north" will be prioritized in the search results.

    This doesn't make sense to me, to be honest. Shouldn't the exact match be listed first? You literally have to dig through 10 pages of breweries to find it, even when entering the exactly correct brewery name.
     
  32. Todd

    Todd Founder (5,895) Aug 23, 1996 California
    Staff Moderator Fest Crew Society

    @Snowcrash000: "Brewing" is ridiculously common, as is "North," and the search isn't exact (see note on wildcard) or perfect, but the performance boost and other updates greatly outweighs any inconveniences until a better solution is put into place.
     
  33. officerbill

    officerbill Disciple (394) Feb 9, 2019 New York
    Society

    Whoa dude, that is sooo deep
    [​IMG]