One of our members reported that her playlists didn't come up when she
searched the folkdj-l archives for artists that she'd played. We
figured out the problem, and it seemed useful to mention it to
everybody, since it might affect how you all format your playlists as
well as use the search engine.
When you search on a "string" (i.e., a word or name), the folkdj-l
search engine locates posts that have *exactly* that word within them.
If you check the "Substring" box, it will include posts that have your
desired string, even if they appear within a longer word. But if you
*don't* check the Substring box, the only matches will be posts that
have your desired string as a free-standing word.
For example, if you searched on the string "John", you'd match any
playlists with John Denver or John Prine or John Lennon or, for that
matter, Elton John. If you check the Substring box, you'd *also* match
playlists with Robert Johnson, since the string "John" is a substring
Normally, the search engine seems to ignore punctuation when it looks
for strings. So commas and quote marks don't cause a problem. If you
search on "Train", for example, without checking the Substring box,
you'll still match a playlist with this: "Freight Train," Libba Cotten,
LIVE (Arhoolie) The search engine matches the string "Train" without
worrying about the comma and quote mark that come right after it. For
that matter, parentheses are okay too, so a non-Substring search on "Arhoolie"
would also match the above example.
So far, so good. But the person who reported the problem uses slashes
in her playlists, like this:
Libba Cotten/ Freight Train/ LIVE/ Arhoolie
Well, it turns out that the search engine thinks that "Train" and
"Train/" are different words. It doesn't ignore the slash, as it does
commas and quote marks and parentheses. So if you search on "Train" (or
"Cotten") without checking the Substring box, that playlist would NOT
show up as a match. If you *do* check the Substring box, it *will*
match, since "Train" is a substring of "Train/".
Dashes are also a problem, in an entry like this:
--Woody Guthrie/ This Land Is Your Land
The non-Substring search wouldn't find either "Woody" (because of the
dashes) or "Guthrie" (because of the slash).
The solution is easy: If you use punctuation like slashes or dashes,
simply make sure that there's always a SPACE on BOTH SIDES of the
punctuation mark. The above example would successfully match
non-Substring searches on both "Woody" and "Guthrie" if it were
formatted like this:
-- Woody Guthrie / This Land Is Your Land
You might ask, "Why not just always check the Substring box when you do
a search?" Well, the Substring search can be handy, but it can also
lead to a far larger number of matches than you really want. If you're
searching on "Rush" (maybe looking for posts about Tom Rush) and check
the Substring box, you'll also match posts with the words Paintbrush,
Sagebrush, Goldrush, Thrushes, Brushfire, etc.
So, it's best if we all format playlists in a way that will reliably
work with the non-Substring searches. If you use slashes or dashes to
separate parts of your playlist, please put a space on either side of
every mark. If you're not sure whether your format is okay or not, try
searching on a name in one of your own playlists. If the Substring
search finds it but the non-Substring search doesn't, then you have a
problem and should modify your formats accordingly.