Ben Langhinrichs

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Genii Weblog

Forum and Help queries

Mon 16 Aug 2004, 10:31 AM



by Ben Langhinrichs
Tracking the searches
In mid-July, I changed the design for both our Help database and Support forum to track the terms when a full text search is done on either.  The idea is that we will look both for patterns to help determine what information to emphasize and for specific searches to be sure that they have good results (e.g., if somebody searches for "appending picture" or "appending image", we might add those as keywords to AppendGraphic).  I hope that this sort of proactive response to inquires will make it more likely that people will find what they want.  In addition, I'll try to populate our focus topics.

Focus topics
Perhaps I should describe our focus topics a bit.  If certain search words are used to find the Midas Rich Text LSX page, a focus topic appears on the left panel.  For example, this search for "dynamic tables for Notes with Midas" would return the Genii Software|Midas LSX result as the second result.  Clicking on that link would give you the same result as this Midas Rich Text LSX link, which has the focus hardcoded.  In addition to this general search term logic, specific posts from various forums will trigger focus topics, so that this post from the R4&5 Gold forum will trigger the same focus topic on HTML generation as this Midas Rich Text LSX link.

Recent search topics
Anyway, here are a few of the first collected search terms from the Support Forum (leaving out the searches for an individual's name and that sort of thing):
tables
coex
table AND [Created]>=01/01/2004  (clever way of getting "recent" posts.  Should that be easier?)
create AND hotspot
create and hotspot and mask 
mask
unformattedtext
unformatedtext  (obvious misspelled words could make good keywords)
Error Accessing Product Object Method  (error messages should all have specific documents)
notes.ini settings
word (hmm, that is a tough one, but probably keyword to MS Word, etc.)
attachment icon (good keyword for file attachment, etc.)
20025 (an error message code, which should go into error message document if we had one)
pdfs 

Phew!  I won't list all 150+ terms searched for since mid-July (with many, many duplicates), but this should give you an idea.  The Help database tends to get fairly similar terms.  Here are the first fourteen from Help db:
embeded (again, wrong spelling needs to be accommodated)
object
convert object
object to tiff
tiff (getting the pattern here?  I wish we could track several subsequent requests more easily)
ole
imaging
scan object
scan
replace (pretty vague - replace text?  replace attachment? replace font?)
export (also vague - how to handle vagueness?)
ExporttoHTML (now, that is easy to handle!)
extract rich text
Doclinks to NDL or Notes URL (may refer to COEX! Links or to sample db - should sample dbs be listed?)

Non-conclusive Conclusion
Clearly, there are some changes that could be made to better answer people's inquiries.  One possibility is that any search should find results in both the Help db and the Support forum, perhaps in two separate frames, because many searches in the Help db would have been better answered from the Support forum, and vice-versa.  In any case, I will try to make clear my thinking here so that people will understand why we are doing what we are doing.  I'd also be very interested to hear other thoughts on both the problem of helping people find good results, and the ways in which we help so far.

Copyright © 2004 Genii Software Ltd.

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