For quite some time I have played around with the “Advanced search” feature of the forum. I suspect that many members just use the basic Search feature. That is a search option that is accessible by entering search terms and clicking on the Search button at the top right of each forum page (to the right of the pull-down menu). Alternatively, just clicking the Search button alone without entering any search terms will lead the member to a search page at http://www.pizzamaking.com/forum/index.php?action=search2
. However, whichever method is used to initiate the search, often that search function will not produce the best and most relevant and desired results (e.g., only a small subset of all of the relevant posts, or possibly none at all). This can lead searchers to give up and simply decide to just ask questions, hoping that other members will help out. After using the Advance search feature for years, I have concluded that it may be one of the best—yet most underutilized tools—on the forum. Maybe the following discussion will convince our members to use the Advanced search feature when the basic search feature does not produce the desired results.
To get to the Advanced search feature, one only needs to click on the Advanced Search
button at the top left of each page of the forum, to the right of the Help button.
The first option that will appear is a Search for
heading/box. This is where you enter the term or terms you wish to search. The only thing to be concerned with here is that the proper terms be inserted. The entries are not case sensitive (e.g., “Autolyse” will get the same results as “autolyse”), but spelling is important. For example, “autolyse” will produce a different set of results than “autolyze”. To get both sets of results, you will have to enter the different spellings, even misspellings. It is not necessary to put search terms in quotes, although doing so will produce the posts using the exact terms in quotes. The way the Advanced search feature works, it will typically produce posts that do not contain the quoted phrase (don't ask me why it does this) but the posts with the exact phrase will show the phrase highlighted in yellow. For example, searching for “Calvel autolyse” (in quotes as shown), using the Match all words
option, will produce posts showing Calvel and autolyse in combination and highlighted in yellow. Any other posts (without the highlighting) can simply be ignored.
In using the Advanced search feature, and the general search feature as well, one thing to keep in mind is that the search features will not search for words that contain less than two letters. This is not likely to be a search that one might conduct but it helps to keep this rule in mind. I also would not use commas or periods or similar characters in the search box, as you might do, for example, when conducting Google searches. One additional neat little trick I stumbled upon to find pdf documents is to use the expression pdf as a search term. As another tip, if you recall that a particular post used a certain term that you are looking to find in the search results, like PMQ, even when that term was in a link, it helps to include that term in the search box to narrow down the number of hits. The PMQ example is one that I often use when I am trying to find a PMQ article or Think Tank post. One can also use a URL that is copied into the search box to quickly find a particular website, post or thread. As a further example, I often use my name Peter in the search box when I am looking for one of my own posts. That is one of the reasons why I always use my name at the end of my posts. I will also do likewise when I am looking for a post of another member. So, for example, if I am looking for a post by Norma, who also ends her posts with her name, or a post of pizzanapoletana (Marco), I will put the term Norma or Marco in the search box. The objective of these tips and examples is to greatly reduce the number of hits to go through.
If multiple search terms are entered, then there are two choices: Match all words
and Match any words
. These are self-explanatory, but if Match any words
is used, the terms should be distinctive enough as not to turn up hundreds of matches. A good example of this is a search I did some time ago for posts that related to high altitude/high elevation dough applications. I used the terms “elevation” and “altitude”. That got me all of the posts containing those terms.
Below the Search for
heading, there is an additional heading and box By user
. If you are looking for a post or posts of a given member, this is where you would enter the forum name for the member to find the posts of that member with the search term(s) that were entered in the Search for
box. The forum name must be the exact actual forum name of the member and it must be spelled correctly, but it need not be case sensitive. If the By user
box is left empty, the search feature will search the posts of all members.
It will be noted that there are two Options for showing the search results: Show results as messages
and Search in topic subjects only
. Depending on which of the two Options is selected, the search engine will either produce the full messages (posts) containing the entered search terms or only the posts that include the entered search terms in the topic headings. Clicking on both Options will give both sets of results.
It is also possible to search for results on the basis of age of posts, from 0 to 9999 days, using the Message age
option that appears below the Options
feature. The Message age
feature is especially useful if you are trying to find a recent post or a really old one. For posts in between, it will usually be necessary to play around with different numbers in the Message age boxes to try to zero in on the desired post.
The results of a search can be ordered in several different ways. As will be noted from the pull-down menu under the By user
option, these are: Most relevant results first
, Largest topic first
, Smallest topic first
, Most recent topics first
, and Oldest topics first
. Of these, I have found the Most relevant topics first
, Most recent topics first
and Oldest topics first
options to be the most useful. The choice Most relevant topics first
is a good starting point because it will produce the results that most closely match the search terms in terms of their proximity to each other. A good example of a search I did some time ago using the Oldest topics first
search option was to find the earliest post on the forum referring to “autolyse”. Using the Oldest topics first
option, I discovered that the first member to mention autolyse in a post was YoMomma, on Aug. 9, 2003. Randy was next, with a post on Jan. 20, 2003. I was third, on Aug. 13, 2004, shortly after I joined the forum.
In addition to the above search options, the forum also features the capability to conduct other kinds of searches, from broad to narrow. These searches are accessed using the pull-down menus that appear at the top right hand corner of each page of the forum. The pull-down menus are configured to allow a full forum search, and also a Google search for those who prefer Google searches, from every page of the forum. However, if one goes to a particular board, it is possible to search just that board. For example, if one goes to the New York Style board at http://www.pizzamaking.com/forum/index.php?board=24.0
, it will be seen from the pull-down menu at that page that the search can be limited to "This board". Similarly, if one goes to a particular topic, for example, Craig's Neapolitan Garage thread/topic at http://www.pizzamaking.com/forum/index.php?topic=14249.0
, it will be seen from the pull-down menu at that page that the search can be limited to "This topic". The ability to narrow searches in the above manner is one of the most compelling search features of the forum and nicely complements the Advance search option discussed above.
If other members discover more and better ways of using the forum's many search features and options, they should feel free to bring them to our attention. This will allow me to also include those tips in this post.
Edits (4/16/14 and 4/18/14): Modified to reflect the latest forum upgrade.