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Marketplace Beta Search - New Information

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As part of our continued work on the Marketplace Beta Search, we’ve made changes to the Beta that some of you have already noticed. Adjustments that have been made over the last week include:

  • The addition of boolean search (utilizing “AND, OR, NOT” for more specific searches)
  • Removal of merchant name from “relevance” results
  • Updated the formula to take prior sales data into account*
  • Stores are now sorted by Best Selling by default

* An important feature in Beta Search is a learning algorithm that, for example, adjusts ranking based on conversions - which means search results will improve over time with real sales data in a more consistent way than sales rank provided in the past.

 

We are aware of at least 2 bugs that have become apparent in Beta Search: BUG-10761 and BUG-10762 and continue to work on these.

While we are taking your feedback into consideration, we've also seen requests for several changes to Marketplace that we cannot address within the scope of this particular project. These include:

  • Demo listings as a separate category
  • Grouping similar listings in different colors
  • Allowing merchants to organize order of items as it is seen in their store
  • Keywords field size

We appreciate the interest in changes like these, and we'll be sure to communicate if additional new features are added to the Marketplace roadmap in the future, but for now these are currently outside the scope of the Marketplace Beta Search project.

Please give the Marketplace Beta Search another whirl and let us know of any issues you encounter with the new features listed above. If you find something that you think needs more work, please be as specific as possible so that we can analyze it: provide at least one example of a specific search string, and cite which specific results you think are inappropriate and which would have been better.  Where appropriate, please file a BUG Jira with Website->Marketplace component.  

We’re still iterating on search, so keep your eyes open for additional updates in the future.

 

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I'd love to be able to "refine search" by looking for "Mesh only" or "No Mesh".  Mesh has become such an important part of items that it should be a search criteria.   My two cents.

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Bravo!

One clarification: We don't want Demo Items as a separate category .. per se. But we DO want them to be excluded from items indexed for Search. Any item that has a link to a "Parent" item should be excluded from indexing.

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Current Best Selling vs Relevance

So ~ you switched shops to Best Selling as default ranking.  Which is awesome! 

Only problem is current best selling is a bit..... inaccurate?

 



 

But "Relevance" ranking now orders results how I would expect "Best Selling" to do.  

Mind you the ranking is flawless for Best Selling criteria~  except this is "Relevance" ( I know the text is blurry. ).

 

Soo~  somewhere something got confused.

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One other observation that I'm not exactly sure how valid .. but decided to mention anyway:

When moving to the second page of results. (clicking the "Next" link at the bottom of the first page, it often hangs and must be stopped then clicked again to "take". Is that just a stutter due to the inactivity of the machine hosting the search or .. ?

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Same as before, I did a search and got a result set without knowing exactly what that result set should be.

I also ended up with items that I didn't want but I don't know if that should have been part of the result set thus I have no idea whether a bug report is appropriate.

Anyway, the good news is that it's all super awesome so now that you've finished search, how about the rest of the REALLY EASY IMPORTANT THINGS that have been hanging around for 4.5 years like, customer self redeliver, oh god just how EASY is that one?!

Flabbergasted at the thought that there's no change to handling DEMO items properly, don't you realise that this is a major flaw and one of the main problems with the results that come back from a search?  It should be a fundemental part of "search improvements" not just twiddling parameters to an algorithm.

Does anyone feel like creating "FrustratedMerchant Resident" as a shared account for us all to post under?

 

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Suggestion & Bug Report

BUG REPORT

So ~  since Boolean Keywords have been implemented I decided why not just search "NOT DEMO"

So I did that~ and it worked~  sort of!!

All products I have listed titled as "DEMO" were not showing up in the search results ~ Woo!!

 

 

However the results were also scrambled beyond recognition as though the Relevance ranking algorithm was not applying to the actual search results yeilding apparently entirely randomly ordered results (This would be the BUG).  Compare it to an empty search field "Relevance" search of my store and you can see the ranking difference.  Note:: This behavior seems to occur all over the marketplace for boolean searches, when using the "NOT DEMO" term results dig up a completely different prioritization of results compared to an empty search field "Relevance" ranking.

 

Part II :: SUGGESTION

It was specifically stated that "Demo listings as a separate category" was "out of scope of the project"

We don't need Demos to be their own catagorical listing~  The notion simply exists that enabling customers to easily be able to remove Demo results from their search would improve the shopping experience overall.  ( less things to sift through ~ less duplicate postings, more variety etc etc. )

In the interest of usability and convenience, and since not all people are savvy with the art of boolean search terms, nor will they remember they exist.  I propose the addition of a little radio button below the search box that will append a "NOT DEMO" to whatever the entered search request is~

I was thinking~  maybe something like this?  ( I just photoshoped this image together~ )



Set it up so that hitting "Search" with a configuration like this would perform a search for "Toothbrush NOT DEMO".

 

Edit : I'm aware that this is a slightly hacky solution to a more complex problem, but in the interim it would improve usability I think.

2nd Edit: Further fiddling has revealed that other stores who list their items as *DEMO* and **DEMO** do not get caught by the boolean search.   Perhaps it would be possible to wildcard search "DEMO"  surrounded by non alphabetic characters? 

3rd Edit~  Okay so searching for "Insanya" yeilds serach results of :::::::insanya:::::::  (which is good) but searching for NOT DEMO does not exclude **DEMO**  ( which is confusing )

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Linden Lab wrote:

As part of our continued work on the Marketplace Beta Search, we’ve made changes to the Beta that some of you have already noticed.

Now we're talking! ^_^

I don't really have time to test the new version right now but a few general comments:


Linden Lab wrote:

*
An important feature in Beta Search is a learning algorithm that, for example, adjusts ranking based on conversions - which means search results will improve over time with real sales data in a more consistent way than sales rank provided in the past.

Yes, that can be potentially very valuable. I didn't dare mention it before since I was afraid it would be a bit too complicated to implement and the last thing we need right now is more complications.


Linden Lab wrote:

  • Demo listings as a separate category

Darrius and polysail have already mentioned this but to elaborate a bit:

The purpose of this porject is of course to improve the quality of the search results. The by far two most effective ways to do that, would be to eliminate demos from general search and to clean up the extensive keyword spam. Those two issues are the reasons for far more than ninety percent of the search result related problems in the current MP.

The biggest of those two problems, keyword spam, is clearly outside the scope of this project so we have to leave that for now (although I hope LL will give it top priority as soon as this has been implemented).

Demos, however, shouldn't be and it shoudn't be too hard to implement a solution either. Polysail has already suggested one approach (except: name the checkbox "Include demos", place it among the other filtering options at the left column of the web page and have it unchecked by default). But there is a more effective way to do it and it should be even easier to implement: All demos are flagged as such in the database. They have to be for them to be linked to the main product. All that's really needed is to add a function to the search engine that looks for that flag and excludes listings that have it.

Exactly the same applies to listings that are flagged as unavailable of course. They are not nearly as big a problem as demos but if you can make a filtering routine for the demos, it should be very easy to us the same solution to exclude expired listings too, just have the search engine check if the listing is flagged as "Unavailable" and is it is, remove it from the search results list.


Linden Lab wrote:
  • Grouping similar listings in different colors

It's not just colors. There are lots of reasons why a merchant might want to offer several almost but not quite identical poducts for sale. But yes, that's definitely not something you should try to handle right now. It's a huge project on its own.

 


Linden Lab wrote:

Please give the
another whirl and let us know of any issues you encounter with the new features listed above.

As I said, I haven't got time right now. But you did remember to kill that annoying autofill function, didn't you?

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Tara Prasinos wrote:

I'd love to be able to "refine search" by looking for "Mesh only" or "No Mesh".  Mesh has become such an important part of items that it should be a search criteria.   My two cents.

That should be relatively easy to implement. All items are already flagged as "No mesh", "Partial mesh" and "100% Mesh" so the search engine only needs to look for those flags.

I do have mixed feelings about it though.

It's definitely in my own best interest to give searchers that option. I make mostly mesh myself so it would increase the average search ranking of most of my products and yes, it can be very valuable if used right.

But there are two problems:

Today lots of builders/merchants use mesh for builds where prims (or even sculpts) would have been far more suitable. This is either because they know mesh sells or because they don't understand buiding well enough. With the current lag issues in SL, do we really want to encourage the "mesh for mesh' sake" trend?

The mesh flag is wide open to abuse. The moment it becomes a search criterium dishonest sellers (and yes, they do exists, believe it or not) might well start listing their products as mesh even if they aren't. How are we going to keep that under control?

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ChinRey wrote:


Tara Prasinos wrote:

I'd love to be able to "refine search" by looking for "Mesh only" or "No Mesh".  Mesh has become such an important part of items that it should be a search criteria.   My two cents.

dishonest sellers (and yes, they do exists, believe it or not) might well start listing their products as mesh even if they aren't. How are we going to keep that under control?

Customers are not very forgiving when it comes to false advertising. The 1 star ratings will keep it under control.

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Mesh composition of an item should not be at the forefront of search.

I agree 100%~  I'd agree 1000% if I could.

Adding a searchable "Mesh" catagorization is completely superfluous and ultimately detrimental because the "percentage of mesh" as a metric of a build is so utterly divorced from actual build quality that it's absurd.

Mesh is not quality,  Mesh is not efficiency.  Mesh is a misnomer for "modern".  "High Quality Mesh" is a misnomer for high poly count.  I hate having to buy into it as a creator~  and mind you~ I say this as a designer who works almost exclusively with rigged mesh and materials.

The mesh / not mesh catagorization of items is a loose~ flexible and catastrophically misleading metric that 99% of customers will never be able to comprehend.  Making it searchable brings that flawed system to the forefront and creates a problem where one doesn't presently exist.

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Darrius Gothly wrote:

Bravo!

One clarification: We don't want Demo Items as a separate category .. per se. But we DO want them to be excluded from items indexed for Search.
Any item that has a link to a "Parent" item should be excluded from indexing.

Bolding for emphasis!

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Ok.  We get that you would like demo items excluded from search. We can't do that immediately, but we get it. You can all stop repeating that now, and really we don't need 30 point bold type for anything.

 

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The search seems vastly improved from the first cut - thanks! I did notice that the search term seems to focus first on the product name rather than the keyword field. For example, everyone that sells item for the Eve mesh avatar puts 'evemesh' in the keyword field and customers are instructed to search using 'evemesh'. That search now produces much better results, but the items listed first under relevance all have evemesh or eve mesh in the product name. I could see that leading to spamming the product name with keywords rather than using the keyword field. In my test, the first 250 items or so listed all have some variant of evemesh in the product name. Right after those 250 are a bunch of things with 'mesh' in the product name, including a whole bunch of men's clothes which I am sure do not use the keyword evemesh, then finally after about 350 listings, the products with evemesh as the keyword (and not in the product name) begin to show up. I tried putting evemesh in quotes, but the results were the same. I wish I had a suggestion but search algorithms are way beyond me. 

--||-

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Keyword Spam violates the Marketplace Listing Guidelines.

Anyone aware of keyword spam on a product listing is strongly encouraged to report the listing so that the issue can be addressed with the seller as quickly as possible.

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i understand the issue of keyword spam - clearly - I was trying to point out how the search algorithm has changed to focus on the product name, not the keyword field. As a test, I took one of my products named "Exclusively Eve - Dangerous Curves" and changed the name to "Eve Mesh - Dangerous Curves - evemesh". For this particular product, evemesh, has always been in the keywords. Before the name change, the product showed up at about 400+ in the search using the single word 'evemesh' as the search term. After changing the product name, it shows up as number 3. My note is that the potential for keyword spam will change from the keyword field to the product name field. So is the "Eve Mesh - Dangerous Curves - evemesh" name keyword spam? Try the search term with evemesh on the beta and then the production MP.

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Giving greater weight to the product name than keywords has fixed keyword spam! 

(LL feel free to drop mic now.)

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Thanks for listening and trying to address the comments and desired features :)

A couple of things I'm noticing and concerned about:

- For some reason, the "beta" website only shows 585 of my products when I use the "my store" drop down from "My Marketplace", or "visit this store" from a listing.  This may or may not have anything to do with the beta search engine, but it's rather annoying to have 588 products listed and active, and have 3 go missing in the Beta. Where are they?

- Like polysail, I'm finding the new default "Best Selling" is less accurate than "Relevance" wrt showing my most recently selling items followed by good sellers/frequent sellers. As the Beta stands today, I far prefer the "Relevance" sorting for accuracy because "Best Selling" is fine for the first 12 items, but is a jumble of older and slow sellers after that. 

- Would you please define your terms:  "Relevance" and "Best Selling" because they can have vastly different meanings depending on whom you talk to.  What do those terms mean with regard to the Marketplace?

 

**eta a missing word :)

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Arwen Serpente wrote:

 

- For some reason, the "beta" website only shows 585 of my products when I use the "my store" drop down from "My Marketplace", or "visit this store" from a listing.  This may or may not have anything to do with the beta search engine, but it's rather annoying to have 588 products listed and active, and have 3 go missing in the Beta. Where are they?


This is happening to a lot of stores, though not all.

I filed a bug report for that here: BUG-10769 - [sLM Beta Search] Some store pages have missing listings when using beta search

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We dug into this and it appears to be an indexing error for every case we checked so far - there will be another reindex of the entire marketplace but there's an easy fix in the meantime - if you know what's missing, please go in to your store (via beta-search) and "tickle" the listing - make an update of some sort to it.  That should take care of it (Whirly and animorf, you'll notice you now have same number of items in beta and production).  

If it doesn't - we really want to know - that would be another class of bug.  

Again, please be assured that we'll make sure all the MP items have been reindexed before we roll this search to production. 

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