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A client has a search engine (Lucene) and it is not performing well with users, partly because page metadata is really vague and non-descriptive and also because users -- if I am to beleive the research in front of me -- tend to use natural language queries.

Lucene uses boolean logic and is not very good at handling natural language searches. q: How do I improve the search experience if the tool is not up to the job, so to speak?

All options on the table including changing the engine. Failing that, do you think there is a way to configure lucene?

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"metadata is really rather" - rather what? I think you left out a word here. –  Matt Rockwell May 18 '11 at 15:54
    
whoops. tx for the headsup –  colmcq May 18 '11 at 16:03
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Can you tell us a bit more about what your users are searching? –  Patrick McElhaney May 18 '11 at 17:35
    
This is the search engine he referenced by the way: lucene.apache.org –  jonshariat May 18 '11 at 17:51
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@Matt. that reminded me of "I accidentally a whole bottle" ;D –  Rahul May 18 '11 at 18:58
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3 Answers

up vote 8 down vote accepted

What if you take out the part of the search that is natural language by adding a drop down menu in front of the search input that has that starting sentence....

Suggestion for search

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That's a damn pragmatic answer. +1 –  Rahul May 18 '11 at 19:00
    
that is a damn pragmatic answer +1 –  colmcq May 19 '11 at 11:29
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Lucene when configured correctly is incredibly powerful and configuration tweaks may indeed overcome the problems you are seeing.

Like any technology installing a solution is less than half the effort the configuration is most important after this expect to be tweaking the configuration for quite a while to get what is considered the ideal results set for any given term and importantly performance.

In addition of this you need an interface that connects with the audience and allows them to interact with the underlying technology successfully. Take a look at http://twigkit.com/ for examples of successful UI applied to Lucene as the service is designed to easly integrate with your technology selection and others.

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I use Lucene on a small Drupal site. You may want to look at how the Search Lucene DidYouMean related module works so you can apply something similar to your own project. http://drupal.org/project/luceneapi_dym

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Faceted search can be helpful to users as well. –  Taiger May 18 '11 at 18:21
    
yep, that's one card on the table... –  colmcq May 19 '11 at 11:33
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