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The search engine isn't fixed - new anomalies now exist

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It's been commented on in another thread that the search engine now seems to have been fixed. Unfortunately, this doesn't seem to be the case and new anomalies have been thrown up.


The use of quotation marks by the buyer has long been a good way to get more accurate results in a search. For instance, a search for "Redwoods National Park" (in quotes) should show more relevant results than Redwoods National Park (no quotes) - by excluding images of redwood trees from other national parks. Unfortunately, this isn't the case, and a search in quotes produces no results at all - which is clearly an error.


This seems to indicate that the search engine is no longer recognising the importance of proximity and word order, and this is supported by the fact that, in the search without quotes, a lot of the results on the first page are of redwoods in Sequoia National Park (some of them mine). My shots of Redwoods National Park appear much further down, even though that exact phrase is repeated in both caption and keywords.


This total lack of results occurs with any national park searched for with quotation marks - but it doesn't stop there. A search for "New York City" produces no results at all, when out of the almost 1 million images, many must have that exact phrase.


As I said above, it's not the fact that the use of quotation marks isn't working but that it's probably indicative of a deeper problem whereby the search engine is no longer recognising the importance of proximity and word order.


I've contacted MS about this and await their reply with interest.


Ian D


Edit: MS's reply was that they're constantly looking to improve the search engine, particularly with regard to compound words. Not convinced they take these problems very seriously.

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Something to do with the number of words as well - "Lake Clark National" works, to some extent (69 images) but "Lake Clark National Park" only produces 4... "Lake Clark" produces 2,598. Totally impossible for buyers to know what is going on! 


That's got to be some bizarre search logic. However, as we've said in many other threads, it's a tough one to crack!

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This has been going on for quite a while now. I emailed MS and Alan Capel late last year and was told that Alamy are making some changes to the search engine that should bring improvements, with an apology that this has unfortunately caused a few steps backwards on the way forward.


It feels to me like the search engine has probably been patched and modified so much that the consequence of even small algorithm changes have become hard to predict, (I've been there, got the T shirt!). A complete rewrite of the algorithm code is probably required. Maybe that's what's happening and why it's taking so long? Maybe Alamy can update us?


These problems, along with the badly implemented "Similar stock photos" algorithm/display don't inspire much confidence at the moment.  :(

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