Search feature that actually works

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  • Updated 6 years ago
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search that works. Your search feature is useless. I search for a title and get 100's of songs with different titles. Even if I put the title in quotes it looks for one of the words and misses the point of the search completely.
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David Karo

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Posted 6 years ago

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Zac Johnson, Official Rep

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Hi David,
Can you let me know what song you're looking for? We're currently looking at our song search results to try to improve them.

Which song was it?
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Andy DeNardi

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I agree that the search function is poorly constructed. I've often specified the exact name for an artist name and album title and AllMusic returns up to 15 entries for more popular music with "similar" titles before listing the exact title that I was looking for.

This seems to be a recent (last three months) change. The search used to be very good and then became radically worse a year or so before the redesign. The redesign made things work almost as well as before and now it is deteriorating once again.
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Zac Johnson, Official Rep

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Hi Andy,
Our search team is constantly tweaking the search algorithms to see what works best, and occasionally we take a step backwards.

Can you give an example of an exact name for an artist name and album title that results in louse search results? We can use these as examples to improve the search rules.
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Andy DeNardi

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I can't provide a specific example of what I spoke of, but here's one that happened to me today. It sort of demonstrates how the entries I seek fall farther down in the listings and why the search engine is faulty.

Search for "jacky terrason rendezvous", then click on albums. There are two listed. One is from the correct artist, the other is Jack Knife Rendezvous by Dustsucker. Neither is the one that I seek - Rendezvous by Jacky Terrasson

Now if I spell the artist name correctly, Two Rs and two Ss (it's a hard name and I missed an S the 1st time), the correct result is right at the top. I don't even need to hit the albums tab.

So how is it that the search engine can pull up the correct artist name for one of the two albums, and also Jack (not Jacky) and Dustsucker? If it can translate an incorrectly spelled name once, it should be able to do it twice.

There are a lot of users who grew up on text-speak and don't know that "lose" and "loose" are different words. Those people need a search engine that can handle misspelled names. Think of the children!

Google would have no trouble with this, but I guess everyone would like Google's search abilities. I used to be forced to use Google to do all my searches on AMG.
Those were the dark days after someone had broken the search engine on the old site, and when the remodel restored most of the old functionality. Using an outside resource and switching between tabs is a major pain.
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Zac Johnson, Official Rep

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Andy, this is a terrific example.
In my opinion the string "jacky terrason rendezvous" is 10x closer to "jacky terrasSon rendezvous" than "Jack Knife Rendezvous" by Dustsucker and our search should have caught that.

Your Google analogy reminds me that Google has built a huge (one of the hugest?) business around refining search results for fun and profit, while we have only been able to dedicate a much (much) smaller amount of resources to the task.
This makes me think of patching the cement on my basement floor and someone coming in to say "C'mon! FDR built the Hoover Dam out of concrete! You should be able to do the same!"

I'll pass your great example along and hopefully we can use this to build better string-matching and error-correction solutions for AllMusic.

Much appreciated,
Zac
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Andy DeNardi

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Here's another more precise search that fails

Looking for the album "Keep Swinging" by Julian Priester, enter the key words:
"Keep Swinging" priester

It doesn't appear at all on the initial page. Doesn't appear when you go to the bottom and more entries are added. Shows up on the next refresh. It's easy to get lost counting all those boxes, but I believe it turns up 78th on the list.

If I filter to just Albums, it's 16th, after Pete Seeger's "How Can I Keep from Singing?". As I said earlier, too much weight is given to more popular albums; "Boys Keep Swinging" is #1, #2 and #5
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Andy DeNardi

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Just realized that the album uses the word swingin' instead of the full word with two Gs.

Also realized that if I type only Julian Priester, it's the 5th entry. If I type Julian Priester Keep Swinging (with the G), I get:

Oops! No results found for the term "julian+priester+keep+swinging"

I realize that accounting for contractions is a complex problem but there are a heck of a lot of albums that contain them and it can be hard to remember if the full word is spelled out. But come on! No results found? 78th? Getting better results with just the performer's last name instead of their full name?

The day that Rovi appeared on the masthead is the day that this place began its downhill slide.
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Dawn G.

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Hi Andy,

Thank you for your inquiry. The way our search works, it tries to match typed-in characters with titles of songs, albums, classical works, or artists in the database. Since the search would be trying to match the string "julian+priester+keep+swinging" to known song titles ("Julian Priester" would not be part of the song title) or to known artists ("Keep Swinging" is not part of the artist's name), it will have a harder time trying to find what you are looking for than if you do not combine the song title and the artist's name in the same search string.

Hope this helps! Thanks for stopping by!
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Andy DeNardi

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Dawn. Pay attention. And be more familiar with how your website works.

I did not enter "julian+priester+keep+swinging". That's what your search function returns. I entered > Julian Priester Keep Swinging < I am learning through experimentation that the use of quotation marks does not seem change the results of the search.

There are a minimum of 500 versions in your database for the song "That Old Black Magic" (search says 2747). It would be ludicrous to suggest that the user scan through all of those entries to find the version by Ann Hampton Callaway.

In fact, your search function will work TWO THOUSAND SEVEN HUNDRED AND TWENTY SEVEN TIMES BETTER if the user provides both the song(album)
title and the artist's name together. In nearly every case, it will return the exact title you ask for. You give the impression that you are completely ignorant when you say that it will have a harder time returning the correct answer. If using the (correct) performer name and the (correct) song title does not return more accurate results than just entering the song title then your website has far greater problems than I originally thought. As it appears to me, the database is constructed around 1) performer names 2) album titles 3) songs. If your search engine is constructed around the 3rd item in the hierarchy then your website has far greater problems than I originally thought.

I am still seeking to provide an example of my original complaint. That is, if I provide a correct performer name and a correct album name, but there is a more popular album of the same name by another performer; the popular one will appear before the one that matches all of the terms given. Although I feel that this has happened to me, it may be a case where an inadvertent misspelling or contraction threw off the results.

There are a multitude of album and song titles containing contractions. Some of your listings have the exact same song shown both ways for the same artist on different albums. The site absolutely must find a way to handle them better. Og help anyone looking for a song off Led Zeppelin IV and not knowing if it's spelled "rock 'n roll", "rock 'n' roll", "rock & roll" or "rock and roll"
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Chrysta Cherrie

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Hi Andy,
One way I'm getting better results to appear higher in the search is by simplifying my search string. For example:
http://www.allmusic.com/search/all/ju...
http://www.allmusic.com/search/all/le...
http://www.allmusic.com/search/all/an...

While we continue to refine the search, I hope that suggestion better yields what you're looking for.

Thanks for the feedback!
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David Karo

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Here is the search I tried when I originally started this thread. I search for the song "so insane and so in love" by Be Bop Deluxe. The search returned 910 results using quotes or with out quotes. None of these results was the correct song. If I look under the group at the list of all songs I do not find it. This means that rather than tell me it couldn't find what I was looking for it tells me 910 bad results. Wouldn't "item not found" make more sense?
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Zac Johnson, Official Rep

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Hi David,
As you point out, it looks like we don't have that song in our database. Even when we can't find an exact match, the search tries to find similar strings. I think this is what is happening here.

It would be nice if our service said "We could not find an exact match for so insane and so in love. Here are the closest matches we can find" but nothing like that is available to us.
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Zac Johnson, Official Rep

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Hey Andy,
Based on some changes made by our search folks some of these results have improved.

"jacky terrason rendezvous" (with Terrasson misspelled) now brings back his album in the results.

Similarly "Julian Priester Keep Swinging" (with the "g" incorrectly included on Swinging) is finding the album in the top 2 results.
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Andy DeNardi

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I appreciate your efforts. I haven't been as frustrated with the search capabilities recently because I think I've learned how to feed it properly. As stated above, it was often a contraction or misspelling that sent me down the rabbit hole.

It's good to see that you are responding to complaints and finding ways to improve.