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Marketplace Search Beta Now Available

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what is new, just the suggestions on typing into the search field?

was boolean (NOT) search intentionally removed? is there any new query syntax to restore this absolutely necessary functionality? the blog entry notes that this is not implemented yet, even though junk is the biggest user-facing problem.

it's awflly slow on many searches, like a minute or more.

the main complaints about marletplace search have been about demo clutter and a separate search hit for every color/flavor of the same item. this new iteration appears to address none of these things. are features to deal with this there but hidden?

 
 
 
 

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This may seem counterintuitive, but Beta Search will be slow at first because it's not getting enough traffic.  The web servers spin down if they're not getting requests.  The speed in beta is not representative of what you will see once it's in production. 

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Just a couple of preliminary observations:

- It still picks up creator names when actually searching for an item.  For instance, I searched the word "veil" and it brought up many products, but also unrelated products because the creator's last name is "veil".

- The default "relevance" sort has no relationship to the current "relevance" sort - currently, relevance picks up the most recent sales in the first dozen or so placements; the betasearch "relevance" doesn't seem to have any order whatsoever - if my own store is any indication, the only thing I can see is it is picking up older products first, even IF those products are not the best selling or the most recent selling.

Can you actually tell us what is changed in this betasearch vs. the current search?  I'm not sure what to really look for. 

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Still has the same dang problem that has been raised for years now:

Searches under the ITEMS tab still returns merchants if they happen to have the same name as your search term.

Example:  A search for MARTIAN items also gives us everything made by Loretta Martian, Samantha62 Martian, Arletta Martian, etc, etc.  If I wanted to find these Merchants I'd search under rhe Merchants tab.  Merchants are NOT an item. 

 

https://betasearch-marketplace.secondlife.com/products/search?utf8=%E2%9C%93&search%5Bcategory_id%5D=&search%5Bmaturity_level%5D=GMA&search%5Bkeywords%5D=martian

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I have mentioned this in every single thread someone at the Lab (eg Ebbe) has started and solicited questions in, and there have been many:


Marketplace search is horribly broken, and the main reason is keyword spam. And it would be SO EASY to fix. First, reduce the size of the keyword field at least by half, more would be better. Second, give greater weight to the NAME of the item listing, as that will always be more focused. And third, exclude creator and store names from item search. For example, a search for "house" will turn up pages of "House of Shoes" store listings. 


This is one of many many easily solved problems with the Marketplace, which merchants have reported over and over, always ignored.

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A quick test. I tried a search for "medieval stable" in the Buildings and Other Structures category both with the old and the new search function.

With the old search function only two of the first page search results matched the search phrase. With the new one all twelve first page listings were suitable for horses to live in and - well at least reasonably credible attempts to make them look medieval-ish.

That's definitely an improvement.

The new search function found 347 matches, the old 433. I didn't look through all the results to see which were excluded but I think that counts as an improvement too, assuming that it was some of the keyword spammers that were left out. (I did a search with the same phrase about a month-and-a-half ago and found that slightly less than half of the search results were actually relevant - about average for MP searches the old way.)

So yes, this looks like a step in the right direction. A small step on a long road perhaps but every little bit helps.

I can spot one flaw right away though: looks like we're going to cram as many keywords as possible into the title field from now on ;)

Seriously, one of the problems with the existing search algorithm is that it's so easy to decode and from the very obvious high weight of title field keywords, I have a feeling this new one will be too.

I did not notice the merchant name issue others mentioned. Strangely there seems to be nobody in SL named "Medieval Stable".

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Thanks for reporting, Chin -- it does sound like they are finally addressing the keyword spam problem, somehow.  I wonder what.

 

ETA: NOT addressing the keyword spam at all, now that I have tested it!

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I used to be dead set against this but now I think it's necessary. The only way to reduce clutter on the marketplace is to put in place SOME system of recurring listing fees. It can be as simple as $1L per month (or something) per item. I'm really sick and tired of "merchants" selling 100's of iterations of the same badly made bikini or t-shirt where the only difference is color or some mismatched texture. More than anything search can do to clean up and improve the Marketplace experience, simply having a mechanism that discourages flood sales of the same item would do it.

Heck some of these so-called "merchants" are just on freebie accounts hoping to sucker people into buying something cheap.

If an item became a constant drain on the seller's account because it was bad or whatever, the seller would either pull it themselves or the freebie account with no $L in it would go to $0L and the item would be automatically delisted.

An alternative would be that you had to have a verified "merchant" account to sell on SLM. Wouldn't have to be full premium...maybe something just enough to discourage people from selling junk.

And yes, DEMO items need to be tagged out as such. Putting up something as a DEMO would earn you an exemption from the $1L recurring fee. However, you'd be required to tag it as DEMO. Same goes for Freebies.  My issue is with the endless junk that crowds the $1L to $20L range. And no, searching by dollar amount doesn't automatically eliminate the junk -- it does just as much to exclude some seroius items that sell well but at low prices.

If you have a good item at a low price that sells well, the $1L per month won't hurt you.

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I'm always mystified by how Linden Lab does search because it's unlike anything else I use, i.e.Google, Twitter, Facebook although I'm told it's the Google Search Appliance.

So I've been testing the new beta search and finding the same problem I always find anywhere on SL's searches like search/places where even a search time with my own land title in it doesn't  produce an even and clean list of results but has other people's land.

Why? Because there's some kind of monkeying process to mitigate the gaming of search through all kinds of fake things like traffic bots and picks' sales and all the rest.

On the MP, if I type in "gatcha rares,"  I expect to get a list of results that show me the most popular gatcha rares from the latest events or the most enduring rares. 

Instead, I get things that aren't even gatchas at all -- perhaps people with junk to sell have figured out they can compete if they include the words "gatcha RARE" in their keywords or description.

Six pages in, I finally stumble on an actual gatcha RARE of some popularity, but what is it doing there so deep in the results?

Then there's another test I give it, "beach plums," with a selection of "home and garden" which should show perhaps the one creator in SL who makes a beach plum plant. Instead, it produces lots of beach furniture of a plum colour. Well it can be forgiven for that...

SL. Always an adventure...

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Not only am I impressed with your name, I never knew that and it explains why it's slow. 

But then, is that because you turned on one of those Intel things that makes the app go away when you are not using it? What's the down side to having it "always on"? 

At what load or capacity does it kick in to be "normal"?

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Yes, I think that's only fair. After all, to be in search/places inworld you have to pay $30 a week per parcel. The parcel has to be at least 256 I believe so you can't make those 16 m search ads anymore.

So by analogy, perhaps you could have a threshold to show up in search but have the fee resolve that by having a sliding fee, the more items, the less the fee? Or on a scale? 

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-; the betasearch "relevance" doesn't seem to have any order whatsoever  

I noticed this on my store too, its just a jumble. Personally i'd like to see store relevance default to most recently added or recently sold. This jumbled relevance result seems to also be the same jumble we get on a full MP search.

Keyword spamming desperately needs "something". I ran a search on beta & live for "Omega Skirt". Beta version gave me 3500 fewer results, but one of the top results was a top, far from being a skirt. Inspecting the page and keywords found that 7 of the 14 keywords used relate to a totally different type of item, including but not limited to; leggings, skirt & even weed. A pair of Blue Boots shouldnt come up in searches for Pink Fluffy pillow, but thats the reality we get. These are all valid words and search terms, even if they dont fit the item. To stop this kind of keyword hijacking do we really need to sit there and flag each and every item we see that does this?

I support the idea of a Verified Merchant type deal. Not sure how it would work but could give the verified a higher ranking in searches as well as other perks or bonuses alongside giving a little more reasurrance to the buyer. I'd even acknowledge tougher penalties and consequences if it means we can cut back on some of the spam, junk and misleading listings.

.

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Two things: 1) The fuzzy search is way too fuzzy. While on the positive side it seems that now at least category names aren't included any more, searching for "hooves" now not only yields items of creators with a last name of "Hoof", but also anything with "hood" in the description. 2) Searches in subcategories are STILL not working. You're always being kicked back to the top level and results are shown for ALL subcategories rather than the one you were in when starting the search. This is trivial to fix and I really fail to understand why it has never been done.

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Pamela Galli wrote:

Thanks for reporting, Chin -- it does sound like they are finally addressing the keyword spam problem, somehow.  I wonder what.

I suppose it's a question of better search algorithms. That's not rocket science - it's far more complicated than that - but lots of clever people have spent lots of time thinking up lots of clever solutions. MP seems to have been stuck in pre-Google/Fast - and even pre-Alta Vista mode until now though.

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Snickers Snook wrote:

I used to be dead set against this but now I think it's necessary. The only way to reduce clutter on the marketplace is to put in place SOME system of recurring listing fees.

Or maybe:

  • Demos are not listed separately but included in the main listing
  • Color variants etc. are merged into a single listing in search
  • Limited quantity listings are automatically removed when sold out
  • Listings by cancelled/inactive users are routinely culled (that's a tricky one and may not be a good idea - well worth serious consideration though)
  • Listings are marked as "Original work", "Derivate work" or "Copyb..." "Uploads of works from other sources"
  • A better category system (the blog post actually more or less says that is coming)
  • A flexible search algorithm that is easy for the Commerce Team to modify when necessary

 But most of this is about the listings themselves, not the search ranking. I suppose that counts as a different project.

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Prokofy Neva wrote:

I'm always mystified by how Linden Lab does search because it's unlike anything else I use, i.e.Google, Twitter, Facebook although I'm told it's the Google Search Appliance.

If I remember correctly, LL used Google's algorithm for a while but not anymore.

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I am now left wondering how the relevance works - most of the merchants that sell products for the Eve mesh avatar use the word evemesh as a keyword. Searching using evemesh brings up a good number of results, but the results seem to be grouped largely by designer. All of my things are in very close proximity to one another and then best sellers do not seem to be ranked any higher than one or another. Even after looking through over 1,000 listings (very slowly) I have yet to find the actual Eve body (also coded with evemesh) which I am sure outsells any single product. On the other hand, usng the regular MP search, the Eve bodies and other products from the Eve creator show up in the first 50 listings. So what on earth does relevance mean? Will this lead to more, not less, keyword gaming?

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Is Relevance functioning correctly or even at all??   The current MP search ~ when I look for an item catagory, MP pulls up what I know are best selling items in that catagory.  I see popular merchants known for unique work that I happen to know sell incredibly well.  ( They're my compeitition and rightfully so! )  My items are right there with them.

 

On BETA search all the most popular items by the current metric are DEAD LAST.  Bottom of the last page.  The front six pages?  All varying colors of some derivative spammed object that I know for a fact can't possibly be outselling the actual goods that had time invested into them.  This is way way worse than the current system.  If this is indicitive of how the system will perform this is catastrophic.  Good merchants that provide unique content will have their sales fall off a cliff if this goes live.  I'm genuinely concerned.

 

 Just as a stark and obvious example :

Trompe Loille is nowhere to be found in furniture listings?  What is going on here?

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I have to say I agree with you, polysail, with regard to the potential impact of this new beta if it were to go live - it could actually be detrimental to current businesses.

There seems to be some amount of throwning the baby out with the bathwater here with the new proposed search system.  Everyone agrees the current search needs improvement.  Time and again, Merchants have listed ways to improve it.  Simple, straightforward ways to do it. Many of them are already spoken about in this thread like the demo problem, or, item search returning a seller's name as well as items, or, the need for a gatcha category (or more broadly a reseller category), or limiting the number of keywords used.  I'm sure there are lots of others in past threads.

Why LL aren't you just addressing the specific things that people have asked for?  Once that's done, we can all assess what more needs to be done.  If you just go forward with a completely different search system, we are actually starting at ground zero and will be discovering glitches and problems with the new system (sort of goes without saying) that will need to  be addressed.  It only creates double and triple work in the future.

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For me, using the same search, today... I got 822 on the beta with or without quotes around "medieval stable".

On the old searc I got 46 using quotes and 793 without quotes.

The significant thing is, the 822 items in the new search much more closely matched what I'd expect to find from either of the results of the old search.

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"More than anything search can do to clean up and improve the Marketplace experience, simply having a mechanism that discourages flood sales of the same item would do it."

Multiple listings of essentially the same product is against the TOS and is reportable by users of the SLM, though you are correct in that it doesn't stop people from doing it, and shoppers seldom report it.

An I totally agree that the same item in dozens of different textures, while not technically against the TOS, should be disallowed.

Personally I am against listing fees, LL already take their share. But I do see your point...

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