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Recent change to search on Common has broken correct page returns for categories, templates, commons space, shortcuts
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Authored By
Fae, Dec 10 2019

Description

Basic searches like "performing arts" or "East London" fail to show the standard Wikimedia Commons category that matches these terms, and instead shows a red link which encourages users to create a (fairly useless) gallery page. See screenshot.

A likely cause is the recent changes to search "depicts" statements. This should be considered a project breaking change, and testing must be in place to avoid a breaking change as serious as this to reoccur.

Event Timeline

Fae created this task.Dec 10 2019, 11:48 PM
Restricted Application added a subscriber: Aklapper. · View Herald TranscriptDec 10 2019, 11:48 PM
Fae awarded a token.Dec 10 2019, 11:49 PM
Jmabel added a subscriber: Jmabel.EditedDec 11 2019, 1:39 AM

It does seem to me that if there is an exact match on a category name, that should certainly be the first result returned. That should be trivial to implement.

This comment was removed by Huntster.
Draceane added a subscriber: Draceane.
Aklapper renamed this task from Commons search broken to Default search on Commons does not list exact category name matches.Dec 11 2019, 9:30 AM
Aklapper added a project: CirrusSearch.
Restricted Application added a project: Discovery-Search. · View Herald TranscriptDec 11 2019, 9:30 AM

Agree that this is undesirable behavior. Previously a search for "Performing arts" would land directly on the category. Now it lands on a results page that encourages creation of a "Performing arts" gallery -- while offering no clues whatsoever that the category even exists. To proceed to the category, one must click "Search categories" to land on yet another results page (which again encourages "Performing arts" creation) and then find -- in the resulting list of everything containing the phrase "Performing arts" -- "Category:Performing arts" and click on it. Whew!

Even worse than the above, if I put the title of a specific page - for example:

Template:Personality rights

into the search box, I'm still not taken to that page.

Rollback ASAP, please.

Fae renamed this task from Default search on Commons does not list exact category name matches to Default search on Common fails to return name matches for categories, templates, commons space, shortcuts.Dec 11 2019, 3:54 PM
Fae added a comment.EditedDec 11 2019, 3:59 PM

Please do not rename this task to something less "project breaking" and urgent. This is not the "default search", this is change to Commons search that has broken basic project searching. Example failures resulting from this project breaking change include:

  • Search for "Commons:Freedom of panorama" fails to go to the page
  • Search for "Template:Cc-zero" fails to go to the page
  • Search for "Category:East London" fails to go to the category and "East London" does not even list it
Fae renamed this task from Default search on Common fails to return name matches for categories, templates, commons space, shortcuts to Recent change to search on Common has broken correct page returns for categories, templates, commons space, shortcuts.Dec 11 2019, 4:57 PM
  • Search for "Commons:Freedom of panorama" fails to go to the page
  • Search for "Template:Cc-zero" fails to go to the page

These are due to a known issue covered in T240260 and we're already looking into it (it is related to a different search box adjustment, not the addition of the depicts section).

  • Search for "Category:East London" fails to go to the category and "East London" does not even list it

The first part of this is also covered by the other ticket, the second part ("East London") may be an algorithm tweak we'll look into.

a known issue covered in T240260

When's the rollback happening?

Hi @Fae. https://www.mediawiki.org/wiki/How_to_report_a_bug covers how to file good bug reports. "Commons search broken" was unspecific and vague, hence I clarified it but at that time did not realize the entire scope at that point. Hence thanks for your correction to make it clearer.

Hi, @Pigsonthewing, if you meant to ask "Will there be a rollback?", then I'm afraid that this temporary loss of functionality which can be worked around by clicking "Search categories" on the search results page does not justify a complete rollback (if you also understand "rollback" as in "revert from 1.35.0-wmf.8 to 1.35.0-wmf.5"). As already written, investigation is taking place to fix this regression.

Raymond added a subscriber: Raymond.
Cparle added a subscriber: Cparle.Dec 12 2019, 5:49 PM

There's a user preference to restore the original behaviour. Sorry that we neglected to mention it in the original announcement of this change

Fae added a comment.Dec 12 2019, 6:24 PM

The user preference, if any, should be to opt-out of going to matches. This is the default functionality, not a default of never going to the exact page the user searched for.

Pigsonthewing added a comment.EditedDec 12 2019, 9:34 PM

if you meant to ask "Will there be a rollback?"

Does it look like that was what I meant to type?

No.

I am surprised that rollback has not already taken place.

can be worked around by clicking "Search categories" on the search results page

No, it can not.

Josve05a triaged this task as Unbreak Now! priority.EditedDec 13 2019, 12:55 AM
Josve05a moved this task from Incoming to MediaWiki Interface and i18n on the Commons board.
Josve05a added a subscriber: Josve05a.

Typing specific page names. such as Template:Pingand pressing enter does not take me to the wanted page, but to a search page instead. This is breaking workflows at Commons and needs to be fixed/rollback the regression asap.

Even typing Carwhich has a gallery and pressing enter does not take me to the gallery, but to the search page.

Restricted Application added a subscriber: Liuxinyu970226. · View Herald TranscriptDec 13 2019, 12:55 AM

Hello! We have a patch up that will re-enable typing Template:xxx or Category:XXX and hitting enter or selecting the item in the dropdown to go directly to that page. This was the intended functionality but some wires just got crossed (sorry about that). That patch will land on production in a few days, barring any surprises.

Gallery pages will still be de-prioritized in the drop down but will show up in the search results page, often right at the top of the results. And categories can still be found via the Search Categories link on the search results page. Categories also still show up in search results by default, but their ranking depends on what you searched for (nothing has changed there).

In the meantime, any user who wants to go back to old functionality can do so via a preference, as seen below. The preference will stay in effect even after the patch lands, so if you'd like everything to stay exactly as it used to be:

categories can still be found via the Search Categories link on the search results page

So? That's still putting an extra step in the user's way; and it's of no help to anyone wanting to visit Template:Foo or User talk:Bar

This is like a mechanic saying "sure I broke your windscreen wipers, but the radio still works (if you hit it first)".

In the meantime, any user who wants to go back to old functionality can do so via a preference

If they know about it. And if they are signed in. So this is of no help to the majority of our users.

Anyone searching for Template:Foo or User Talk: Bar will find them right at the top of the search results page, ala:

Is it 1 more step than before? Yes, but that wasn't the target and will be fixed soon. We intend for this specific problem to be as temporary as possible and are pointing out very straightforward alternatives for the brief time this state exists.

categories can still be found via the Search Categories link on the search results page

So? That's still putting an extra step in the user's way; and it's of no help to anyone wanting to visit Template:Foo or User talk:Bar

This is like a mechanic saying "sure I broke your windscreen wipers, but the radio still works (if you hit it first)".

In the meantime, any user who wants to go back to old functionality can do so via a preference

If they know about it. And if they are signed in. So this is of no help to the majority of our users.

Keegan added a subscriber: Keegan.Dec 13 2019, 8:52 PM

@Pigsonthewing there seems to be a misunderstanding, as Ramsey hopefully clarified above. We agree that you should be able to put categories, user pages, Commons pages, etc. into the search bar, hit enter, and go to that page. Removing this ability was unintentional, and it's being restored. There's already a patch up. In the meantime there are workarounds, such as category search in the results and the preference setting. These are not suggested as solutions, the solution is coming in the form of restoring the old behavior.

Lambtron removed a subscriber: Lambtron.Dec 13 2019, 9:17 PM

there seems to be a misunderstanding

If there is a misunderstanding, it is not mine; as I already understood everything you have repeated in your post (although "up" is quite vague).

As I have already noted, the "workarounds" are of no help to the majority of our users.

Perhaps the misunderstanding is that some people do not grasp that the vague promise of a patch which, we are told "will land on production in a few days, barring any surprises" is not considered a prompt or reliable enough fix for an issue of this severity, which breaks workflows, invalidates tutorial material, and which has already existed for half a week.

Also:

Umm...what?!

"What this means in practice is that, for common search terms, the user gets a curated gallery page instead of a search results page, and that gallery page only contains a fraction of the available files"

This was the intended purpose of galleries. If typing "Barack Obama" in the search box, it should take the reader to the gallery (and from there a link to "search more images/see the category" should be visible). Otherwise, please start a discussion on Commons if all galleries should be deleted or moved to a Gallery: namespace if you do not want readers to reach a gallery when searching for that exact name!
Was there any consultation with the project/community about this? This "fix" has also broken a lot of current workflows with search on Commons. Please see the mentioned ticket(s) and rollback, please.
(I myself hate galleries just as much as the next guy, but this is not the way to deprecate them!)

Jdforrester-WMF lowered the priority of this task from Unbreak Now! to High.Dec 17 2019, 11:18 AM
Jdforrester-WMF added a subscriber: Jdforrester-WMF.

This does not meet the criteria for UBN. Please do not abuse that status.