Thursday, 10 November 2005

Delicious: search Delicious

([Added 24 November:] To search the archive of Delicious's discussion group Discuss, which is the closest you can get at the moment to searching Delicious's help or FAQ, see this post.)

Want to search the online social bookmarking service Delicious?

Well they now have a better search engine, as announced in the Delicious blog.

The Delicious blog post explains the syntax for searching Delicious, but just to summarise:
  • A B searches for the word A and the word B appearing together whether in tags, titles, or extended descriptions.
  • A OR B searches for the word A or the word B appearing in any tags, titles, or extended descriptions.
  • "A B" searches for the phrase "A B" whether in tags, titles, or extended descriptions.
  • Tag:A searches for the tag A.
  • Tag:A B (or "B tag:A") searches for items which have been tagged A and where the word B appears in tags, titles, or extended descriptions, supposedly.
  • "NOT" (or "-") and "XOR" may be used (and "AND", though that is meant to be the default).
  • You can also use parentheses "()" to search more complicated combinations, see the Delicious blog post for examples.
What puzzles me is that you should, I would have thought, be able to search for "tag:A tag:B" to find only bookmarked webpages which have been tagged with both those words (where both tags are used by the same person? Or by different people? I would assume the latter but it's not clear). But it seemed not to work when I tested it, finding a wider range of results instead.

Example - search for say "tag:useful", there's an item in the search results called "Use of Force" bookmarked by 26 people none of whom have used the tag "useful" from the looks of it. However the word "use" does appear.

Is there some synonym function at work for tag searching (picking up on the similar word "use" here), and can one turn it on or off per search?

Is "tag:" nonetheless searching the other fields too? In the above example, even assuming it searches for synonyms, the word "use" doesn't even appear as a tag in some of the items returned, though it appears in the title or description of some items.

I've also used "supposedly" above as the combo of tag AND word wasn't showing what I would expect, either.

Strange. Maybe I'm missing something. I've enquired of the Delicious discussion mailing list, we'll see if there is an answer.

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John Tropea said...

Check out my woes:

I think the fielded tag searching is due to stemming, there should be a way to turn this off..if I search for tag:rss, I don't want to see hits that have the tag:rssreaders (unless the tag, "rssreaders", has been applied to the same bookmark of course)

If I search tag:rss, it should just be like clicking on the tag "rss" in the tag cloud.

Improbulus said...

Thanks John. I hope that they'll provide a way to turn off stemming, maybe if there's enough user demand.

Thanks too for your more detailed explanation of stemming, for those who haven't seen it it's on John's blog.