Allow user to disable the (buggy) 3-character wildcard search in Canvas Commons

Idea created by Laura Gibbs on Aug 13, 2018
    • Laura Gibbs
    This idea has been developed and deployed to Canvas

    This is really a bug-fix request, not a feature request, but to prevent feature creep, I am reposting it with a strict limitation: I am proposing that Instructure fix the buggy 3-character wildcard search default in Canvas Commons so that 3-character wildcard search matches can be excluded from the search results. 


    My earlier feature request was interpreted as a generic request for improvements to Canvas Commons search, so I am reposting here with a much more specific scope of statement. I am not making a request for "advanced searches" as here: advanced-search-needed-for-canvas-commons -- but disabling the 3-character wildcard search would, in fact, achieve at least some of the results hoped for in that feature request; the problem described there is a direct result of the three-character-wildcard search bug (a search for "University of St Francis" returns more than 35,000 items because the algorithm is searching on uni*).


    The 3-character wildcard search results distort the "highest rated" and "latest" searches so badly that they are useless. I do not think this is what was ever intended (hence my use of the word bug), but in any case: I am not proposing new search features. I am proposing that this bug be fixed so that the existing search features, especially the "highest rated" and "latest" filters, will work AS INTENDED.


    One way to do that would be to allow users to put quotation marks around their search term/phrase to disable the buggy three-character-wildcard search results. I am sure there are other ways the effects of this bug could be addressed so that the searches, especially the "highest rated" and "latest" searches, would work as intended.


    Thanks to everybody for helping me see that I needed to make a much more specific request to avoid feature creep.




    Highest rated Andrew Jackson materials do not return any Andrew Jackson on the first page. Instead, the highest rated Andrew Jackson materials are a color jacuzzi icebreaker and Jacobs Hall (at Berkeley, my alma mater; how ironic). I am pretty sure that it was never intended for these results to be returned as the "highest rated" search results on a search for Andrew Jackson (i.e. it's a bug). The algorithm is searching on and* jac* and poor Andrew Jackson disappears from the highest rated results.


    Andrew Jackson search results


    The latest butterfly materials do not return any butterflies on the first page. Instead, the latest butterfly materials are an Intro to Bus-101 (which has this phrase in the description, "Please use freely, but please give Barry credit for his work") and an item entitled "I'm not racist, But..." That's because the algorithm is searching on but* and the poor butterflies disappear from the latest results. Was that really what was intended when this filter was applied to a search for butterfly? I doubt it. Which is why I would call this a software bug, not a feature.


    results of latest butterfly search


    Comments from Instructure


    For more information, please read through the Canvas Release Notes (2018-10-27) .