To search aliases or not?

In ticket #1731 we’re currently discussing the merits of having the artist aliases searched by default. Compare these two searches:

  1. Search without aliases for “Jennifer”
  2. Search with aliases for “Jennifer”

The perfect match for Jennifer is half-way down the page of results if aliases are included. Jennifer is all the way at the top (where it should be) when the aliases are not searched.

So, why does this happen?

Take for instance the top hit of the with aliases search: Jennifer Paige. She has an alias for “Jennifer Page“, so when Lucene ranks the search results, the word Jennifer appears twice, which is a better match than when the word appears only once. This disturbed our users and it plain feels wrong to me.

Then I tried to play with Lucene’s term boosting functions. Take this query:

aritst:jennifer^10 sortname:jennifer^10 alias:jennifer^0.0000001

In English, it says to search for Jennifer in artist names and sortnames and to make these hits 10 times more “important” than normal hits. It also says to search aliases and make hits from this vastly less important than normal hits. The result, Jennifer is at the top as we want. But, what happens when we search for Bjork (not Björk)?

We get this mess where Björk is the last search hit with a score of 0. (this is not the best example since the next version of search will automatically find Björk when searching for Bjork, but it still illustrates the problem)

As you can see, tweaking the searches to make things better one way, will make other searches worse. Do you think it its more important to search aliases by default or to have better search results by default?

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4 thoughts on “To search aliases or not?

  1. Brian G.

    won’t searching be much better once we allow duplicate artist aliases to be entered in MB?

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