Mailinglist Archive: opensuse (3644 mails)

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Archive search technique (was Re: [SLE] Hello, anybody home?
Speaking of the archives... is there a way
(I haven't seen it) to search message content?

My experience is that finding a solution in
the archive involves a lot of reading ... and
then you need a lot of luck.

People -- especially beginners -- use Subject
lines that are not necessarily informative,
and then the subject line remains unchanged,
thereafter. So, only rarely does it reflect
the general problem and the posted solution.

A text-string search of message bodies in
each archive would be golden... like a junior
Google, local to the archive web page.

Rafael had a point, but only in the limited
situation where he already knew the solution
because he had posted (therefore searchable
by author) and he knew within a three-month
period when he had posted.

I've found several helpful things in the
archives while failing to find anything
about the actual problem I was searching for.
That's not a very efficient way to do things,
and it only happens at all because I'm the
type that can get fascinated (and distracted)
and stay away from my real work, longer than
is good for me.

How many people really have TIME to plow
through 3700 messages (January archive only)
especially when you consider how long it takes
for an individual message to open? I find that
it often takes longer for a message to open
and close (returning to the chosen month archive
list) than it does to read the text and decide
that I'd wasted yet another click.

At 30 seconds per message (open it, scan it,
reject it, close it), it would take 60 hours
to view January. More if you found anything
interesting to read. Even assuming you can
reject two-thirds of the messages because
their Subjects are sufficiently informative...
you'd still need half a standard work-week
(not including pee-breaks and lunches) to
go through the possibles.

If there's a way to grep the whole archive or
at least the month-by-month archives, or some
other way to search the message bodies without
individually opening them, then it should
be summarized at the top of the Archive pages.

Remember, many of us are either newbies or
only mildly enthusiastic users (i.e., people
with day-jobs who don't have the option to
fritter away the hours tinkering with our
desktop software -- yes, some of us in this
list are -- shudder! gasp! not actually
programmers), so we don't necessarily come
with years of command-line knowledge.
**You** might be able to type a single
line at the bash prompt that:

- goes to the url,
- opens all the associated message files,
- searches them for a string,
- copies every message that contains the
string to a buffer, and
- presents it for leisurely viewing with
the keywords highlighted.

Many of us, however, don't even know that
it's possible, let alone how to do it.

So, how DOES one efficiently search the
archives for an issue that is not necessarily
reflected in the thread title, and come up
with the best answer that anybody has posted
in the past year or two?

And, for bonus points... how do you know
when to stop searching? Since anybody can
write an answer for anything, the first
(most recent?) reply to a slightly relevant
question might come from a relatively inexperienced
person, and be very inefficient, compared to an
answer that was posted last September by a
guru... with, of course, a completely different
Subject line...

Anyway, my vote is for:

a) a proper search engine for the archives
(which are growing at a frightening pace) or,

b) a revelation by those who know, so that
we can all use the "secret" search engine
that already exists to do full-text searches.

/kevin (tongue only slightly in cheek)

On Fri, 2002-03-22 at 17:43, David Herman wrote:
On Friday 22 March 2002 02:13 pm, Rafael E. Herrera wrote:
David Herman wrote:
On Friday 22 March 2002 04:08 am, Rafael E. Herrera wrote:
I posted a solution to the same problem early this year. Could you
search the list archives?

I've often seen people suggest "searching the archives"
I've tried this myself but I haven't found an actual search
mechanism there, just monthly listings. :-(. Perhaps you could
point it out for us.

On the other hand maybe you could give a Time frame so he wouldn't
have to sift through all 15,000 messages since the beginning of the
year. Even viewing 1 month's worth of messages takes quite some
time @ 56 k. For example I went to Dec 2000, and clicked sort by
subject when I started this message, I'm a really slow typist, but
the page is still loading.

Pardon my snippy reply but I hate it when I I look for "hamburger"
in the phone book and it tells me to look under "burgers, ham"
rather than just giving the answer.

Well, if you would have actually tried you would have found the
solution I posted.

Well, if you would have actually read my mail you would know I hadn't
posted the question in the first place. I was mainly commenting that
The archives aren't particularly search friendly, and that it is as
easy to post an answer you know as to tell someone to go look for it.

Kevin McLauchlan
Chrysalis-ITS, Inc.
"Ultimate Trust(TM)"

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