Recipe for a strategic search review

We're sometimes asked by clients to examine not just their technical implementation of search, but also the wider picture: how search functionality is exposed to users, how it compares to competitors' websites and best practice. This process usually takes us ten days to two weeks and results in a highly detailed report with clear recommendations for improvement. This process is slightly different each time, but usually includes the following steps, shown with some examples of questions we mig...Continue reading

A fabulous FactHack for Full Fact

Last week we ran a hackday for Full Fact, hosted by Facebook in their London office. We had planned to gather a room full of search experts from our London Lucene/Solr Meetup and around twenty people attended from a range of companies including Bloomberg, Alfresc...Continue reading

Just the facts with Solr & Luwak

It won't have escaped your notice that factchecking is very much in the news recently due to last year's political upheavals in both the US and UK and the suspected influence of fake news on voters. Both traditional and social media organisations are making efforts in this area; examples include Channel 4 and Faceboo...Continue reading

Meetup at Big Data London – One-click Solr & Factchecking with Solr

Last week I spoke at the Big Data London conference, a very busy event with several thousand people attending. My session was on using open source search to make sense of Big Data - you can get slides here. In the evening we ran another Continue reading

Not one, but three Lucene hackdays coming soon!

We're always keen to get more people involved in the Lucene search community - there's always lots to do, from deep hacking of the core code, to testing with different frameworks and clients, to creating documentation and examples. It's also just over fifteen years since Tom Mortimer and I founded Flax and we thought we should mark this birthday with some kind of event! So I'm thus very happy to announce we'll be involved in three Lucene hackday events over the next two months: Firstly, Continue reading

Boosts Considered Harmful – adventures with badly configured search

During a recent client visit we encountered a common problem in search - over-application of 'boosts', which can be used to weight the influence of matches in one particular field. For example, you might sensibly use this to make results that match a query on their title field come higher in search results. However in this case we saw huge boost values used (numbers in the hundreds) which were probably swamping everything else - and it wasn't at all clear where the values had come from, be it ex...Continue reading