Some issues with searching (sorting, searching deleted posts and such)

We have now been running our discourse installation for over four years. During that time a lot of cool stuff and good memories were born, including a nickname or two, in-jokes and partially a lingo of our own.

Four years is quite a long time, so it’s inevitable that at some point we’ve set off on a road trip down the memory lane, trying to figure out some of the exact dates stuff was born to have some context, you get the gist of it.

I’ve now bumped into some issues regarding the search, first of which is the fact that you simply can’t search deleted posts. Since you can’t completely destroy deleted posts, why can’t we search them either? I would imagine this type of limbo is exactly the opposite of what little benefits hiding posts would have.

That however, I can live with because I like the idea that there are discourse instances out there that are swelling up with flagged old post gold just waiting to be discovered by future civilizations or sentient, rubbernecking extraterrestrial lifeforms.

Also, trying to find the first occurrence of something seems to fail miserably every time I try it, and looking for context using the date limits apparently has some hidden logic that I’m unaware of, making post dates irrelevant.

The sorting options all feel like they just randomize in different ways how the same, probably unwanted results are shown. The one option that is missing, is to sort the hits by actual post date.

The advanced search feels like flying in “No Man’s Land”, you get all sorts of buttons you can press that gives you the illusion of you doing the flying at first, but in the end just emphasize the feeling of wrestling a railroaded automation which does get you where you want to go.

Now it’s important to say that the fuzziness of Discourses’ search is insanely good. Throwing around a few incomplete words slightly, or even possibly related to each other, and you get what you want within the first five hits? Almost like magic.

So, I guess, my question is, how would I be able to find actual, first occurrence of a word in a discourse forum?

I thought you could in advanced search @sam? Not sure though.

Selecting order by latest isn’t working for you? Oh wait you want the oldest item not the newest one. That’s a bit weirder.

Seems to work OK for me? money before:2013-03-20

The problem is that this kind of search can be used only from the staff members, all the other users will see at least no result. For now we can search between deleted topics appending /latest?status=deleted to the site URL. I would opt instead to make it works from the search panel simply manually adding status:deleted. I don’t know if it’s possible to do such a thing only for posts.

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I am not sure we keep deleted posts in the search index, should we even? This means we are bloating all this index for data that is not searched.

in:deleted is a trivial 5 minute change if @tgxworld wants to take it, just not sure how deleted topics and posts interact with the index. Also not 100% sure I want to keep deleted content in the index bloating it.


“order by oldest” is probably the most easily actionable request here but it is … odd.


Sorry not to have checked up on this but things have been a bit turbulent as I’m sure we all can agree.

It does sound strange at first, but there’s really nothing that odd about it :smiley: I hope I can shed some light into this.

For example, we now, quite successfully, migrated a 12 year old hobby forum running BBPress to Discourse.

That 12 years covers quite a lot of discussion, including births and deaths of terms and lingo and a surprising amount of new phenomena even in a wider context, so it’s not that odd if someone wants to dig up when was the first time some particular thing was encountered or called what it is called now :point_up: :bulb:

Regardless of novelty in such functionality, I strongly believe reversing the order should be possible anyway when things are displayed in one order or another by some attribute.

I’m again trying to find the first occurrence of a particular word but I know for a fact that when sorting by latest post the last post displayed is not the first occurrence of the word in the forum :thinking:

Could this be due to the original topic where the term occurs has been bumped or there is a later occurrence in the topic?

Either way I can’t seem to be able to find what I’m looking for :person_shrugging:

Is this something you’d need the users to have as part of the actual search, or would using the Data-Explorer be an option?

I will definitely take a look at this plugin, since this is such a special case. Discourse’s builtin search is scary good for 99,9% of cases but this one’s a little bit tricky.

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