User preference for number of search results displayed
Closed, DeclinedPublic

Description

It has been expressed at English Wikisource by a non-tech, not bugzilla-type person, and otherwise some general support expressed by other users, that the default display of 20 search results is considered unhelpful and that they would like to see the ability to have a personal user preference that allows them to set and/or save their preferred number of search results to display.

As the search preferences for the namespaces to search is now a preference in the Special:Search area, is it also possible to also have the ability to specifically set the number of preferred results to display? Alternatively, once you have the specific number that you wish displayed, actually displayed, may it be possible to have the "Remember selection for future searches" also apply to the number of results.

Also didn't see that this belong in either of the Extensions about specific searching as this is more about the MW presentation of results, rather than the searching capacity itself.

Thanks for your consideration.


Version: 1.24rc
Severity: enhancement

Details

Reference
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See gerrit 105871 where this was removed

werdna removed a subscriber: werdna.Dec 10 2014, 6:17 PM

@Deskana, now that [[Special:Preferences#mw-prefsection-searchoptions]] exists and makes a handy place to put the search prefs information, could we please have this feature?

At least at Commons, where I spend a lot of time scrolling to the end of the page and clicking "500" because 20 is such an inadequate number?

Or maybe just silently remember the setting that I chose last time? I don't mind clicking on a larger number once, but I do mind having to scroll all the way to the end and click "500" every time I run a slightly different search in the hope of eventually guessing which search terms will find the barnstar I want.

I am interested to see the SEARCH options appearing and expanding under the preferences tab. There was the argument (ell I whinged) when the search defaults were removed from preferences to the search page. If the argument to move the search defaults to the search page, would not the idea follow through that the number of search results be set in the same place in the same way?

I still find it weird that we spread preferences over places and have no steady idea of which is better situation.

oh, and I do see the value in having more search results, that we don't enable that flexibility seems quaint and antiquated.

Deskana closed this task as Declined.EditedNov 2 2016, 11:52 AM

With regards to this specific request, there are potential performance implications of serving users more results, particularly if lots of users start to use the feature. Creating a feature that's likely to blow up if it becomes popular is a bad idea, so I must decline this task.

Additionally, a general note on preferences. Preferences are to be used incredibly sparingly, as they create inordinate complexity the more of them you have. One preference doesn't sound too bad... only two configurations. But then two preferences gives the user four configurations. And three preferences gives the user nine configurations. Best case (with binary preferences), the number of different configuration options is O(2^n), i.e. exponential scaling. Worst case (with nonbinary preferences), the order is even larger than that. This is not only hard for users to get their head around, it can also create incredibly unpredictable interactions as users can have configurations which practically speaking cannot be tested. This kind of complexity is what causes incredibly hard to diagnose issues that are common on our sites (see T144640#2754250 for a recent example). That's why the burden of proof is so high for adding preferences, and why generally we seek to minimise them.

It's of course irritating that we have plenty of room for a pref that's useless to me but not for a pref that would solve daily problems for me. If everybody truly needs to have the same number of results for performace reasons, then can we get the default number of search results (at least at Commons) raised from the current "totally inadequate" number to something in the vicinty of "kind of maybe enough sometimes"?

It's of course irritating that we have plenty of room for a pref that's useless to me but not for a pref that would solve daily problems for me.If everybody truly needs to have the same number of results for performace reasons, then can we get the default number of search results (at least at Commons) raised from the current "totally inadequate" number to something in the vicinty of "kind of maybe enough sometimes"?

That's something that'd require more research. We know for text-based searches on other wikis that there's a dramatic drop-off in engagement after the third result, dropping to almost no engagement with results after the 20th. That work made assumptions that would not hold true for image searching on Commons, so we'd need to redo it; only then could we know whether this would be valuable for most users or not. I'll file a task for that.