On 19 May 2010 15:51, Amir E. Aharoni <amir.aharoni(a)mail.huji.ac.il> wrote:
... Yes, it makes a lot of sense that there would be
such a button in
Wikipedia, because quite a lot of the people who type "obama" probably
just want the article about the president (but someone should research
how many exactly). Forcing them to see a list of results and have them
click on the first one wastes some time.
But it also makes sense to be able to run a full-text search as easily
I think - with my librarian hat on, here - readers seemed to quite
like the old "mixed search" functionality, which defaulted to "go"
with a matching header and falls back on "search" otherwise. Having
two buttons may well be confusing, but making them just use search at
the expense of that direct leap is a regressive step as well.
Bear in mind that Google (mentioned somewhere above) is not really a
good comparison here; it's a search engine looking over a very wide
range of sources. As such, you don't just want a single result,
because it's very unlikely that a single result will reflect the bulk
of what people are looking for. I mean, I've searched on "obama" - do
I want the White House website, or a photo, or news stories about what
he's done today, or blogs vituperating about him? I may want to read
something that likes them, or something that's opposed to them, or I
may not really care about the slant and just want something suitable
for a nine-year-old.
But in a more restricted domain like Wikipedia, there is one heading
as an entry point for a topic, with one article under it - there's no
real secondary entries in most cases, and only one viewpoint
presented. If what you've searched on is a valid topic heading, it
makes sense to take you direct to the material under that heading,
since we only have the one "type" of article present.
It's also not that unusual for comparable reference works. Using the
default search settings, the (excellent) Oxford Dictionary of National
Biography takes you straight to the article if there's one person with
that name, and only falls back on search if you've given a partial
name or an ambiguous one. The Oxford English Dictionary, likewise,
leaps straight to the result if there's one fitting perfectly, and
broadens out to "search results" if not.
On the other hand, Britannica does a search even when there's an
obvious first article, but then that search is more akin to Google -
the results also include their image collection and some subsidiary
resources, which we choose not to highlight in initial search results.
Relatedly, a proposal!
Search box, two buttons. One, "search" or "go", acts as the old
mixed-search "go" button - it is a direct leap to that title, else
falling back on the search. The second button is "advanced"; it takes
the content of the search box and puts it directly into
special:search, and then presents that along with links to Commons,
wikisource, etc, and - prominently - the various advanced-search
options (search project space, etc).
- Andrew Gray