SL Search, or as it’s otherwise known to most of us: ‘that f%**@#!! load of s*?!!’ – (OK, maybe that’s just a little harsh) – is not famed for its accuracy, user-friendliness or for that matter, its ability to actually come up with a result that even remotely resembles what we were hoping to find, but it is all we have and those of us well-versed in the ways of SL know that sometimes you just have to grin and bear such inconveniences.
The most peculiar aspect of search for me is the way in which it has managed to remain completely static whilst SL as a whole, in technical terms, has advanced in leaps and bounds. An age ago – in technology terms – I was inspired/frustrated enough by our search engine to put finger to keyboard and document my searching woes, and to be absolutely frank with you, if you changed the date on that piece to today, it would still be equally relevant. It’s almost as if the Lindens have left us with a search facility purposely designed to remind us just how far we’ve otherwise progressed… yes folks, this is how all of SL used to be in the good old days!
Or perhaps it’s a ploy to distract us from other issues? As long as search remains a punch bag upon which we can vent our spleen all those other niggles that frustrate us pale into insignificance in comparison.
It’s all too easy to blame the Lab for the search function’s inadequacies but, as with so many things SL, sometimes we have to be aware that when we point the finger at the Lindens to blame them for all our woes, all too often there’s a whole bunch of unseen fingers pointing right back at us too. Yes, it’s true that the most basic attributes of any search engine – the ability to use Boolean operators as filters – is sorely needed inworld, yet bizarrely, the Lab decided to skip that bit when designing their search engine. (Notice I said ‘inworld’ – Marketplace search does allow the use of some operators, you just have to play around with it to find out which ones!) Neither do partial word searches work inworld, but wildcards do work, and I bet you didn’t even realise it! Bung an asterisk in at an appropriate point and search will return a neat list of all the possible hits.
Knowing stuff like that can make search a lot more responsive, but where we really need to get our act together is the way in which we dictate what search finds. Telling search that we ourselves, any object or group we create, or our land parcel wants to be discoverable, really is as simple as ticking the appropriate box, (although there’s a fee for parcels) – something that I suspect we rarely do. Then there’s the vexed question of why on earth, no matter what keywords we use, does search invariably throw up a list of gogo bars and sex clubs, followed by a whole bunch of things that have nothing whatsoever to do with what we were looking for. Traffic has a lot to do with it, and sex joints do tend to get an awful lot of that particular commodity, but there’s more to it than that: Take a quick squint at any set of profile picks and I guarantee you’re almost certain to find completely inappropriate labels in the description for particular locations. Take the following for a long standing and extremely well-known clothing store:
Jeans,denim,dress,dresses,shorts,cargo,shoes,heels,sneakers,leather,sex,club,latex, high heels, fashion,mesh,teen,blouse,skirt,minikirt, exclusive,mall,clothes,bosl, clothing,thong,gifts,pants,top,vest,hair,skin,shape,lingerie,bra
The offending words are highlighted in red – remember this is a clothing store – but put the words ‘sex’ and ‘club’ together and that pushes up the interest level and broadens your discoverability instantly. There’s also a whole load of other terms needlessly hogging searchwidth – surely ‘thong’ and ‘bra’ are covered by the catch-all term, ‘lingerie’? Do we really need ‘clothes’ and ‘clothing’, ‘dress’ and ‘dresses’,’mall’? The sum total of thousands of places vying for our attention and employing descriptions full of clutter and nonsense, similar to these, is a search facility that is doomed from the start, and the example above is nowhere near as bad as some I’ve seen.
However, it’s probably too late to change it now and, let’s face it, why should the Lab bother giving us nice things, if we just abuse and break them by being greedy and misusing what we’ve been given?
SL search will never be Google – we won’t let it be – but, if nothing else, at least we’ll never be at a loss should we feel the need to visit a pole dancing club!
All my life I’ve been searching for something
Something never comes never leads to nothing
Nothing satisfies but I’m getting close
Closer to the prize at the end of the rope
Foo Fighters – All My Life