So, our main search tool will get a relevance search, which means that the output is somewhat sorted by how important an entry is. Before that the entries were sorted by date and if two entries had the same date the order of the entries was not specified.

If a customer is going to search for some stuff with the relevance search the table is ordered by how many words are hit in several fields, also the date has some influence.

The order of the entries is calculated by the backend (or db, i don't know) and could be exposed in the user facing table as an own column, which could also be used to filter entries with low relevance aka low score.

I feel like this should not be done, because mainly I think it is wrong to burden the user with complexity used to give an elegant behaviour. But the rest of the team insists on doing it, to give the user the power to filter irrelevant entries.

So is there a general advice? Is it a good idea? Is someone doing it?

  • It would help to answer the question better if you can provide some details around the type of feature/function that you want to expose to the users. I am keen to hear from the community about this one.
    – Michael Lai
    Commented Dec 23, 2019 at 22:49

2 Answers 2


Not surprisingly this question should be answered in the context of either the problem you are trying to solve or the purpose of wanting to expose the score.

Short answer - it can be, with the emphasis on CAN (and not will)

Long answer:

If the problem is that users don't have a more effective way to sifting through the information, exposing the score doesn't necessarily solve the problem (i.e. the algorithm could be so complex and the values presented so vague that it can cause more confusion).

If the purpose is to make the users more informed about what happens under the hood (e.g. it is a fair and transparent algorithm... Google is probably not the best example though), or if you want to give the users more control, exposing the score will also not guarantee a solution.

Understanding the exact need/want/goal will, and you can either test it by exposing the data and look at the analytics for some leads and deep dive into some areas, or you can do the upfront user research, design a solution and then tweak the design as you release the feature.


With questions like this I normally refer to how Google behaves. They do not score their results in a way that is displayed to the user. For a public facing site this makes since as showing that score increases the gaming of the system. But if your site is on an Intranet then showing a score with the breakdown of that score in a tooltip may actually improve the overall trust in the enterprise search.

  • It is could only accessible behind the login version. Good point to differentiate between public facing and internal enterprise. Thank you.
    – jannemann
    Commented Mar 28, 2019 at 8:12
  • I am wondering if there is actually anything encoded in the search results page though, as sometimes details are exposed for the benefit of bots or crawlers rather than for human consumption.
    – Michael Lai
    Commented Dec 22, 2019 at 23:49

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