Friday, March 20, 2009

Searching through the Searches

Apparently I need to be more clear on the functionality of the Medieval Cookbook Search.

Every now and then I like to look through the various log files generated by my web hosts. This allows me to find out if someone like the BBC recently linked to the site, or if some recipe is surprisingly popular, or if there's something wrong with the HTML code, etc.

I've recently become aware that a number of people are entering things into the Medieval Cookbook Search that aren't going to return much in the way of useful information. I originally set the search engine up to find recipes in various medieval sources which contain a particular ingredient. It incorporates a sort of "translation" feature that copes with the wild spelling variations of Middle English. A couple of years later I added the capability of searching for multiple ingredients at the same time (which turned out to be a lot easier than I thought it would be).

What I didn't anticipate when building the indexes though was that some people would enter the name of a recipe. I can add this, but it'll take some time.

I also didn't expect people to enter such things as "food" and "cookery". Just what do they expect to find with those keywords in a bunch of medieval cookbooks? Even stranger, if they mistakenly thought it was a search for the entire website, what did they expect it to return given that the whole website is about "food" and "cookery"?

I can rig up some code so that if nothing is found in the cookbooks, it'll offer a generic search for the whole website (thanks be to Google), which will help with terms like "white", "mousse", and "cookie".

Which brings me to search terms like "Moo Moo". That is just plain silly, and I won't write special code for it (though I suppose I could ...).

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