Searching - What can I do to make it work?!

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This post has 17 Replies | 2 Followers

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Martin Folley | Forum Activity | Posted: Sun, May 5 2019 1:04 AM

I posted elsewhere this morning about searching a topic from the title bar text box ... frustrating.

I though I would try something simple ... use the search tool for a quick search ... what could go wrong?

Search for Sermon on the Mount in my Library ...

Ranked ... good stuff ... except it is almost all bibliography ... what is the ranking Algorithm if this is the result ... there is little immediate use here.

Sorted by count ... Tim Keller is looking useful ... 

... except it is using each individual word ... and TK uses "the" more than most?!

OK ... so I have to put quotation marks around the term ... not obvious ... I know it says it in that shallow L8 launch page ... but it should not be needed in cases where there are many hits ... it should be assumed by the ranking algorithm  ... and it does not work!!!

... we are still back to the bibliographies again ...

Now somebody will suggest about searching 'Heading Text' and 'Large Text' ... which I can do ... although I am not sure where the previews have gone within the results ... BUT ... how well hidden is that facility? ... what experience did I need to have? How many additional clicks does that involve?

Here is my question ... 

How can I get the 'ranked' results of a search to rank the results so that 

  1. Exact hits are seen before individual words
  2. Multiple NEAR hits are ranked above single words
  3. Words like 'the' 'and 'a' are ignored!
  4. Heading text and large text is prioritised as part of the ranking on the assumption that their content may be more relevant.

Thanks.

2010 17" MBP with High Sierra, iPad4 with iOS10.

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Mark Barnes | Forum Activity | Replied: Sun, May 5 2019 6:40 AM

As a minimum, you should put double quotes around phrases. This is very standard search syntax across the board. I'm not sure how Logos is supposed to know whether you mean a phrase or not if you don't explicitly tell it so.

More generally Logos' ranking mechanism is very simplistic. Truthfully, it doesn't work very well. To be fair, it's a very hard problem to solve. (And I know Google have pretty much solved it, but they've done so by spending billions, and they have many more ranking factors than are available to Faithlife.)

So the answer to your question is that you've got to work a bit harder and a bit more intelligently when searching with Logos than you do when searching with Google — especially when you're searching for a topic where there will likely be hundreds or thousands of relevant resources.

So I'd begin by asking you another question. What are you actually looking for?

  • Books about the sermon on the mount? Then use the library filter.
  • Dictionary Articles about the Sermon on the Mount? Then use the Factbook or Topic Guide.
  • Sermons or journal articles on the Sermon on the Mount? Then use the Topic Guide, or individual guide section.
  • Commentaries on the Sermon on the Mount? Then use the Passage Guide.
  • Something else? Then search, but using a small subset of your library, geared for what you want.
  • Genuinely not sure? Do a search everything, but be prepared for information overload.

In other words, I think the problem here is twofold: (1) Logos isn't very good at ranking. (2) We're often not very good at knowing what we want or telling Logos what we want.

Posts 10123
Denise | Forum Activity | Replied: Sun, May 5 2019 8:12 AM

Ranking.

I don't see any need for excuses for Logos. Many on this forum have built search engines. My impression, Logos has a single query, where multiple (or internal macros) with ranking evaluation as the bare minimum after Windows95. Demanding exact syntax is silly, except for high-end engines in specialized apps. Logos is pastors.

When Phil asked what was desired for L8, searches were up there near the top, next to ease of use and speed. It amazes, since searches were Bob's early claim to fame.


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Dave Hooton | Forum Activity | Replied: Sun, May 5 2019 6:37 PM

Denise:
When Phil asked what was desired for L8, searches were up there near the top, next to ease of use and speed

Some of Google's "ease" is provided in Logos, so you should know that a phrase requires quotation marks at the start and end, else the words are treated as required in any order (AND). Then you can separate words with a comma to indicate one OR the other. BEFORE and AFTER are a variation of AND, specifying word order. This is basic.

One word NEAR another is fairly straightforward, because we don't care that it actually means WITHIN 48 CHARACTERS. When we get to explicit Proximity (BEFORE xxx WORDS, AFTER xxx WORDS, WITHIN xxx WORDS) and searching for topics or themes e.g. {Section xxxxxx}, <Person xxxx>, then we start to ask HOW (on earth)?  The rules for a Search engine have to be fairly explicit, and users are now demanding an interpretive interface to simplify their queries and do the translation (parsing, etc.) for the engine.

Did Faithlife Assistant succeed in this? It says "Ask me something" but first states "Type “help” any time to find out what you can ask me." And then is it requiring an exact syntax with something like Open a passage guide on Colossians two, where "open" and "passage guide" are keywords, whilst "Colossians 2" also works? When I ask search for preaching theme on baptism it is obvious that preaching theme is not a keyword for a search on "baptism"  i.e. it does not search for {Section <PreachingTheme Baptism>}. One step is for the interface to recognise such keywords, whilst the user still has to be fairly exact with their query e.g. "look" is not recognised.

Dave
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Posts 809
Cynthia in Florida | Forum Activity | Replied: Sun, May 5 2019 6:56 PM

You know, every single time someone types something about search, I like to look because I'm always looking to wrap my brain around it.  I read these three responses from three people on this board whom I have such great respect for and when I was done, I thought to myself, "I wish they had a like button or thumbs up button, or haha button or question button like on my Iphone."  If they did, I would respond like this this:

Mark: Star

Denise:  Confused  (This simile is supposed to mean I'm confused...)

Dave: Computer

While much of this is really over my head, the beauty is that each of you bring something unique to contribute to the discussion....THANK YOU! (BTW...Dave, I surprised myself.  I actually understood a lot of what you said!)

Cynthia

Romans 8:28-38

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Dave Hooton | Forum Activity | Replied: Sun, May 5 2019 7:26 PM

Cynthia in Florida:
(BTW...Dave, I surprised myself.  I actually understood a lot of what you said!)

I surprised myself, in that I didn't get technicalBig Smile

Dave
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Posts 10123
Denise | Forum Activity | Replied: Sun, May 5 2019 8:32 PM

Dave Hooton:
Some of Google's "ease" is provided in Logos, so you should know that a phrase requires quotation marks at the start and end, else the words are treated as required in any order (AND). Then you can separate words with a comma to indicate one OR the other. BEFORE and AFTER are a variation of AND, specifying word order. This is basic.

I don't doubt explicit searches demand explicit requests. But in the absence of explicit-ity, it's easy enough to deliver the exact phrase first, an almost exact second, and an assumed OR next by match count. We're talking normal people (vs HALOT users I guess ... another thread tonight).

And as the OP notes, ranking relative most used resources, sections or some such, and so on. I mentioned W-95, since that finally began to break the "our way or the highway" in building decent search interfaces.


Posts 2811
Doc B | Forum Activity | Replied: Sun, May 5 2019 8:36 PM

Mark Barnes:
I think the problem here is twofold: (1) Logos isn't very good at ranking. (2) We're often not very good at knowing what we want or telling Logos what we want.

It's really threefold, Mark. (3) Telling Logos what we want in a way that Logos understands is waaaaay more difficult than it should be for such a premium software product that is marketed to non-computer experts.

My thanks to the various MVPs. Without them Logos would have died early. They were the only real help available.

Faithlife Corp. owes the MVPs free resources for life.

Posts 781
scooter | Forum Activity | Replied: Sun, May 5 2019 10:08 PM

Doc B:
It's really threefold, Mark. (3) Telling Logos what we want in a way that Logos understands is waaaaay more difficult than it should be for such a premium software product that is marketed to non-computer experts.

Waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaay truth.

Posts 1073
Martin Folley | Forum Activity | Replied: Mon, May 6 2019 12:01 AM

Thank you all for the replies. Like Cynthia, I am always grateful for the varied responses ... from the MVPs and others ... 

Mark Barnes:
So I'd begin by asking you another question. What are you actually looking for?

That is a really good question ... from a software point of view I would like a good personal assistant who can bring me the material that I ask for before I have even asked for it!!! In reality I would like assistant that does not present me with a pile of bibliographies before they think about offering articles that a focussed towards what I asked for, and an assistant that does not truly believe that I am interested in these hundreds of articles because I am fascinated by the word 'the' !!!, an assistant that applies just a modicum of sense to their selection ranking.

I reality I have been tasked to provide supporting notes for a series of sermons that are due to be preached over the next couple of months. The notes are effectively transcripts of the preaching, with added scriptures, quotes, questions and simple definitions, to be used as the basis for small group discussion later in the week. I thought that I would get started by looking in general for suitable material that 'might' be useful ... not knowing where any given message is heading. I simply got frustrated at the first hurdle. Not knowing exactly where you are going is an occupational hazard for many of us amateurs.

I was/am frustrated by Logos's apparent lack of intelligence when doing the basics. For example

  • Searching (above!!!),
  • Reading plans (still stop/start in the middle of a sentence!!! How much development has gone into the art of reading ... cf. online resources.),
  • Notes (Cannot create them in the documents menu? ... I need to the notes tool ... but I can create other documents in the documents menu? Arbitrary. Or tagging a note ... fine individually but selecting multiple notes and you cannot tag them (it looks like you can apply a tag to multiple notes but returning to any individual note suggests that the tag was not associated with it ... ),
  • Library management (filter by only one tag at a time (!), tags not sortable (defaults to tag count), the library cannot even remember which resource was selected after a screen refresh, and it even allows the truncating of tags because it decides to do a screen refresh!!!)
  • Even launching a custom devotional layout from the home page ... some layouts can be attached to the homepage ... others cannot ...

So much of this is not about finding a specific answer to a specific question ... it is about not needing to come here to the forums  ... it is about being able to find information quickly, read my library in an organised way, about not having to navigate deep menus (e.g. search 'large text'); not having to learn complex search syntax, not having complex context menus that seem to grow by the month etc. etc.  

What I liked about moving from L3 to L4 was the simplicity of the UI (OK there were some missing features especially for Mac users etc.) ... but years on we have not maintained that simplicity, we have not developed the wonder of a smart digital personal assistant/librarian ... (and I am not talking about some intrusive voice operated fad!)

I apologise for my cry of frustration. I see additional menus and 'listable' features added constantly whilst what I consider the basics of reading and searching are ignored and not developed. Maybe I should go talk to the hand uservoice ... or wait to buy L14.

2010 17" MBP with High Sierra, iPad4 with iOS10.

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Dave Hooton | Forum Activity | Replied: Mon, May 6 2019 5:19 AM

Martin Folley:

What I liked about moving from L3 to L4 was the simplicity of the UI (OK there were some missing features especially for Mac users etc.) ... but years on we have not maintained that simplicity, we have not developed the wonder of a smart digital personal assistant/librarian ... (and I am not talking about some intrusive voice operated fad!)

I apologise for my cry of frustration

I can understand that frustration, and for similar reasons (although not specifically with the features you mention). The Home Page GO box in L4 was tuned for Topics and Passages, but combining it with the Command box in L8 compromised the simplicity of the GO box; designed for users who didn't want to create their own Layouts. Now we have more Home Page layouts with more linked resources, and the problem of deciding if an entered word/words is for a resource, a topic, a word study, a search, or a layout!

Which is why I'm suggesting that it may not be the tool for you if you are comfortable with creating and saving layouts. Just use the tools that fit your purpose, like Topic Guide, Sermon Starter Guide or Passage Guide, and link them to appropriate resources in specific layouts.

Dave
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Windows & Android

Posts 2811
Doc B | Forum Activity | Replied: Mon, May 6 2019 7:35 AM

Martin Folley:
we have not developed the wonder of a smart digital personal assistant/librarian

That hasn't stopped them from using this analogy in their advertising, though.

I think FL should change their company mission statement to, "Where our marketing people write checks our programmers can't cash."

Martin Folley:
Maybe I should go talk to the hand uservoice ... or wait to buy L14.

I don't know if they even look at Uservoice anymore. I had an item there that was in the top 10 for years...no action on it. Waste of time.

And I'll bet my lunch money plus a twinkie the stuff they haven't fixed in four releases won't be fixed in ten.

My thanks to the various MVPs. Without them Logos would have died early. They were the only real help available.

Faithlife Corp. owes the MVPs free resources for life.

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Reuben Helmuth | Forum Activity | Replied: Mon, May 6 2019 7:48 AM

Martin Folley:
tagging a note ... fine individually but selecting multiple notes and you cannot tag them (it looks like you can apply a tag to multiple notes but returning to any individual note suggests that the tag was not associated with it ... )

Sounds like you didn't hit the "Apply changes" button. You used to have to scroll down to see it and many people missed it. That has been improved and the "Apply changes" button remains visible in the bulk actions panel at all times.

Posts 140
Pastor Greg | Forum Activity | Replied: Tue, May 7 2019 3:56 AM

Mark Barnes:
As a minimum, you should put double quotes around phrases. This is very standard search syntax across the board. I'm not sure how Logos is supposed to know whether you mean a phrase or not if you don't explicitly tell it so.

I would assume that the simplest search string would bring up the most straightforward results. Logos should assume that a clean, unadorned phrase is a phrase, and not a more complicated search with discrete operators. 

However, it appears that the simplest possible string

sermon on the mount          is equal to          sermon AND on AND the AND mount

and the slightly more complicated string

"sermon on the mount"          is equal to          sermon on the mount

So the user must use a slightly more complicated string to obtain the most straightforward result.

Since Logos is already accepting shorthand equivalents, why not assume that a phrase without quotes, booleans, or operators has invisible quotes around it, and require that more specific search phrases be used for more specific results, so that

sermon on the mount          being equal to          "sermon on the mount"

Just my .1 quadrans.

Posts 1391
Rick Ausdahl | Forum Activity | Replied: Tue, May 7 2019 8:40 AM

Pastor Greg:

Mark Barnes:
As a minimum, you should put double quotes around phrases. This is very standard search syntax across the board. I'm not sure how Logos is supposed to know whether you mean a phrase or not if you don't explicitly tell it so.

I would assume that the simplest search string would bring up the most straightforward results. Logos should assume that a clean, unadorned phrase is a phrase, and not a more complicated search with discrete operators. 

However, it appears that the simplest possible string

sermon on the mount          is equal to          sermon AND on AND the AND mount

and the slightly more complicated string

"sermon on the mount"          is equal to          sermon on the mount

So the user must use a slightly more complicated string to obtain the most straightforward result.

Since Logos is already accepting shorthand equivalents, why not assume that a phrase without quotes, booleans, or operators has invisible quotes around it, and require that more specific search phrases be used for more specific results, so that

sermon on the mount          being equal to          "sermon on the mount"

Just my .1 quadrans.

Yes please!

Posts 7983
LogosEmployee

Pastor Greg:

Mark Barnes:
As a minimum, you should put double quotes around phrases. This is very standard search syntax across the board. I'm not sure how Logos is supposed to know whether you mean a phrase or not if you don't explicitly tell it so.

I would assume that the simplest search string would bring up the most straightforward results. Logos should assume that a clean, unadorned phrase is a phrase, and not a more complicated search with discrete operators. 

If you're using Ranked search (the default), it doesn't matter that much whether you use quotes or not; Logos will prioritise phrase matches (though not identify them as such). In this side-by-side example, 9 of the top 10 results are the same, ranked in mostly the same order:

(We've heard the earlier feedback that these might not be the best top ten results; that's unrelated to whether the same list of results is found with or without quotes.)

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Dave Hooton | Forum Activity | Replied: Tue, May 7 2019 2:59 PM

Pastor Greg:

However, it appears that the simplest possible string

sermon on the mount          is equal to          sermon AND on AND the AND mount

and the slightly more complicated string

"sermon on the mount"          is equal to          sermon on the mount

So the user must use a slightly more complicated string to obtain the most straightforward result.

See my response above about the history of the GO Box, now combined with the Command box, and my earlier response about Faithlife Assistant, and interpreting a query like search for preaching theme on baptism. In your example above, "sermon" can be interpreted as a keyword, so you could be asking for a Sermon (using Sermon Starter Guide) on "the mount" (or mountain). Then it can be interpreted as a Topic, where "Sermon on the mount/plain" is the best match (and you get a Topic Study Layout with a Topic Guide because of the GO box legacy). Then it can be interpreted as a resource title (Command Box legacy) and try to open a resource with that title! Finally, it can be interpreted as a Search.

Putting quotes around the words will provide a more exact/straightforward Search string, but the Command box legacy has it looking primarily for resource titles. But I don't think it should still be looking for any type of Sermon guides.

Dave
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Keep Smiling 4 Jesus :) | Forum Activity | Replied: Wed, May 15 2019 9:56 PM

Martin Folley:
Now somebody will suggest about searching 'Heading Text' and 'Large Text' ... which I can do ... although I am not sure where the previews have gone within the results ... BUT ... how well hidden is that facility? ... what experience did I need to have? How many additional clicks does that involve?

Clicks can be none since article search syntax can be entered via keyboard: (usable on Web App) 

([field heading,largetext] "Sermon on the Mount")

Caveat: experienced and hidden BUT's still apply (not intuitively obvious for the casual observer)

Keep Smiling Smile

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