Why is WSO's search function so broken?

Whenever I use WSO's built-in search function I get all these weird irrelevant results, so I always find myself going back to google and type "wallstreetoasis whatever I'm searching for" 

Anyone feel the same? Why is nobody fixing it? Or is it by design to generate constant traffic of users asking the same questions over and over again? (which is genius imho)

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Comments (111)

  • Analyst 2 in IB - Cov
Apr 17, 2021 - 5:01pm

It is pretty bad. One example I'll throw out there is the other day I was trying to search for "Bank of America industrials" to see any threads that mentioned the group to see what people's thoughts were. I also tried didn't forms of Bank of America (ie BoA, BofA, etc) and every time majority of my search results were threads about the United States. It seemed like since the word industrials has "us" within it was mainly pulling up threads about the United States

Apr 21, 2021 - 12:27pm

Sometimes I'll be looking for a thread I saw before (for example ____ Diversity Event SA 2022) and when I use the native search function it will only return old results, even when I include the year in the search and sort by date. Then I type the same thing in Google and find it immediately

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Most Helpful
  • Analyst 2 in IB - Cov
Apr 16, 2021 - 11:46am

yup the only way to go is google, search function is garb. It's rich because every loser loves to comment "um like thish has been answered 50 timesh bro use the search"

Apr 16, 2021 - 5:00pm

Maybe helpful context...

The site was launched a while ago and is built on Drupal, which isn't really the best platform in 2021 for forums. It's really really hard to replatform without huge SEO risk - which is where the majority of site traffic comes from for something like this. I'm guessing there isn't a great plug & play site search plugin built out that would work here, otherwise it would have been implemented.

Search could be improved but without a plugin, it's a pretty real dev expense. Keep in mind that every cool feature you add bolts on maintenance cost too and adds a huge layer of complexity. Kind of hard for a free forum to offer all of that without charging users. Not saying it's impossible just trying to provide some level of color.

  • 3
Apr 16, 2021 - 7:57pm

Thanks man - I don't take this stuff personally and having a vocal userbase is great (especially when it's warranted).  We have a distinct search server that uses Apache Solr in order to deliver results -- I think with our migration from Drupal 7-> things got worse on search and it's been hard to recover since Search is very very complicated... that being said, I think if we can get some examples from the people complaining that would really really help the team.

There have been search issues in the past and usually it can be solved simply by tweaking the weighting and/or settings that are available to us...

Apr 16, 2021 - 11:56pm

Using search function pulls up old, sometimes irrelevant threads. Way more functional to type wso and what you are searching into google

Array
  • 1
Apr 17, 2021 - 5:11am

WSO has around of ~80k lines of custom code and ~50Gb database. Drupal is used more like a framework built over the Symfony core offering the scallable database model. Search won't get better after switching to some other platform (I may imagine the cost of such switch, SEO will be the least problem here) - you'll end up using SOLR or Elasticsearch or any other similiar technology same as we use now. And it will still require to tell those systems how rank content by number of comments, votes, etc in the search results. There is no "silver banana plugin" neither for Drupal nor for any other blogs platform. 

We have a small dev team: 3 full time devs and 2 part time mobile app devs, the most of the site testing are done by us. So we really appreciate the feeback especially for the things like search that we can't fully test by ourselves (even it usually is like "X thing on WSO is a crap, pls fix" :) )

Apr 17, 2021 - 12:09am

Is there a way to sort by post vs. wso database? Sometimes ill input something into the search bar but the results are flooded by reviews from the wso database and occupy like half of the page's results but I want to search for a discussion instead

Apr 17, 2021 - 6:33pm

Good one. It's been like this for years, I wonder if it's intentional to drive traffic (and therefore submissions) to the database.

WallStreetOasis.com dev team if you see this this and if what's described here is intentional, in my opinion it's unnecessary because the database is so valuable that I think people will search through it/contribute to it regardless.

Maximum effort.
  • 1
Apr 17, 2021 - 12:15am

Also the "exact match" function or putting ur search in quotations doesnt fully work theres been so many times when the search functions spits out "your search yielded no results"

Apr 17, 2021 - 12:25am

Patrick, how does the search results of "relevancy" work? E.g. I looked up "tobin" in the search and the infamous "is it true tobin doesnt pay analysts" thread was near the bottom of the page while threads with significantly fewer responses and a less recent last reply date were featured higher/sooner on the search results page. I wouldve expected that thread to be at the top if not near it as it's the "tobin" thread with the most responses, undoubtedly the most sb/ms (i think justine tobin alone got 200+ ms lol), and probably the most views.

Apr 17, 2021 - 4:33am

Dev team is here. Here are some details from the devs discussion about the search functionality:

When you search for something, the solr filters results by the phrase you entered (it can perform different adjustments during filtering, like spellchecking), and then it calculates "score" for each document.

The score can be calculated in 2 ways: using boost queries or boost functions.

Boost query is something like: "give it a boost if the field has some certain value". We can boost the fulltext fields this way. For example, we use it the following way: give document x2 boost if the title contains the exact search phrase. It can't be done for other fields, for the example posting date, cause we don't know what to compare it to (it has to be some certain date, single value).

Another way - the boost functions. They look like this: recip(ms(NOW,ds_changed),3.16e-11,4,4)^150.
That uses some math (reciprocal function) to give a boost NOT based on what we search.

So now results get x2 boost if title matches the search, no boost if post body contains match, x2 boost for the recently created content, x4 boost for more comments and x2 boost for silver bananas amount. All boosts except the fist one use reciprocal function formulas.

Seems we'll be busy checking and adjusting that the next week, but wanted to share it.

  • Intern in IB - Gen
Apr 17, 2021 - 12:55am

Not sure if just for me but I also find I have different experiences using search on desktop vs the app. App results turn up different results completely and there is no way to filter/sort on the app from what I've been able to see and do.

Also, app frequently won't load comments for me and crashes all the time on my phone (iPhone with current iOS); just freezes and quits. This would be super helpful to fix! Thanks for taking comments.

Apr 17, 2021 - 4:08am

Thanks for the report!

We've recently pushed a lot of updates to the app that had to fix numerous problems.

Do you use the most recent version from the app store?

Also could you give an example of what do you search that gives you the completely different results on web and in the app?

App search doesn't include the Company database items and some other types of results but in general it should be the same.

  • Intern in IB - Gen
Apr 17, 2021 - 4:51pm

Thanks! I do use the most updated version of the app, the repeated crashing is just something I've noticed across updates but maybe it's since resolved.

For the searches, idk I'm a student so it was probably like about a bank recruiting program and I remember having read a thread I wanted to go back to but when I searched again on the web I couldn't find it at all-then I went back to the app and it showed up again there at the top of the results. I just find myself often jumping between the app and web versions to try and navigate the site (e.g. I always look at database on web, not app, but search for comments on the app). So for me better continuity between the two would be extremely helpful.

  • Prospect in IB-M&A
Apr 17, 2021 - 7:57am

The biggest search related issue imo is that when I search for a discussion or thread by putting in a keyword, I just get a whole bunch of WSO database entries. Fixing that would be great. Regardless, you guys are doing a fantastic job and have helped so many people over the years.

PS: being able to access PMs on the app would be really helpful :)

Apr 19, 2021 - 7:59pm

"BofA" -- thank you for this example.  those results issue is that we need to get back our exclusion words like "of" (this will be fixed before end of week)

  ...synonyms we have down (see below)

ABS,asset backed security,asset-backed security
AP,accounts payable
AR,accounts receivable
BB,bulge bracket,bulge-bracket
BPS,basis point
BS,balance sheet
CAPM,capital asset pricing model
CDO,collateralized debt obligation
CDS,credit default swap
CFS,cash flow statement
comps,comparable analysis
DCF,discounted cash flow
EBITDA,earnings before interest tax depreciation and amortization
ETF,exchange traded fund
EV,enterprise value
FCF,free cash flow
FOF,fund of fund,fund-of-fund
IPO,initial public offering
IRR,internal rate of return
LBO,lever
MACD,moving average convergence divergence
NOL,net operating loss
QE,quantitative easing
REIT,real estate investment trust
VAR,value at risk
WACC,weighted average cost of capital
ACN,Accenture
ADL,Arthur
APO,Apollo
BAML,Bank of America,BoA,BofA
Barclays,Barclay's
BCG,Boston Consulting
BMO,Bank of Montreal
BX,Blackstone
Cap IQ,CapIQ,capital IQ,capitalIQ,Factset
CapitalOne,Capital One,Capital1,Capital 1
CS,Credit Suisse
DB,Deutsch
DE,D.E.
Diversified Global Holdings Group,DGHG
EY,E&Y,Ernst
FB,Facebook
GHL,Greenhill
GS,Goldman
HL,Houlihan
HW,Harris Williams
JP,J.P
JSC,Jane St
KKR,Kohlberg
LZ,Laz
MBB,McK,consult,m/b/b
MDP,Madison
ML,Merrill,Merill
MS,Morgan Stanley
mssb,Smith Barney
New Enterprise Associates,NEA
OW,Oliver
PWC,Pricewaterhouse
PWP,Perella
RBC,Royal Bank of Canada
RBS,Royal Bank of Scotland
RJ,Raymond
Soc Gen,Societe Generale,socgen,Soc-Gen
Stout Risus Ross,SRR
STRH,Suntrust
WF,Wells
WP,Warburg
10-K,10K
10-Q,10Q
10th,tenth
1st,first
2nd,second,two,2,double
3rd,third
4th,fourth
5th,fifth
6th,sixth
7th,seventh
8th,eigth
9th,ninth
above,higher,more,better
abroad,international,overseas,foreign,countr
acceptance,admission
acing,ace,crush
age,old,young
AMA,Ask me anything,Q&A
Apply,Application
Assoc,Assc
attire,cloth,fashion,dress,wear
Before,pre-,prior
Big4,Big 4,big four,B4
book,material,file,literature,text
boutique,bouti,boute,botique
bro,man,male,guy,men
buy,purchase,pick up,get,store
buy side,buyside,buy-side
Cannabis,Marijuana,Pot,Mary?Jane,Weed
case stud,cases
cash, money
CB,underwrit,corporate bank,corp bank,corp. bank
certification,credential,certificate,designation
Cheap,Inexpensive,Affordable
college,universit,school
comprehensive,complete,thorough
Compsci,Comp Sci,Computer Scien
contest,compet
Corp,Corporate
CorpStrat,Corp Strat,Corp. Strat,Corporate Strat
course,class
co-worker,coworker,colleague
Decline,Reject,Turndown,Backout
definition,define,meaning
delay,postpon,pushout,pushback
dilem,problem,issue
dinner,meal,lunch
distressed,special
division,department,dept,group,desk
double,dual
dumb,stupid
E&P,O&G,gas,oil,energy
eas,simpl,easy
EM,Emerging Market
email,e-mail
entry-level,entry level,enter
excel,spreadsheet,workbook
exit op,exits,exit-op
Fail,Success,Succeed
Family,Relative
firm,compan,business,shop
Fortune100,Fortune 100,F100,F 100
Fortune500,Fortune 500,F500,F 500,F-500
Fragrance,Perfume,Cologne
girl,female,ladies,women,woman,lady
Government,Govt,Federal
GPA,grade point average,grades
gray,grey
Greek,Frat
gym,fitness club,fitness center,health club,athletic club
H1B,visa
hard,difficult,selective,competitive,tough
headhunter,recruiter,hh,search firm,recruiting firm
hear,response,answer,respond,reply
help,advise,advice,tip,trick
hours,hrs,lifestyle,culture,life style
HR,human resource
impact,result,effect,consequence,implication
importan,critical,crucial,matter,necess
insight,info,idea
interview,meeting
Ivy,H/Y/P,HYP
Jr,junior
Keep,continue,still
kind,type,form
LAC,liberal arts
land,transition,breakinto,get into
LatAm,Latin America
law,attorney,atty,JD,J.D.
layoff,lay off,laid off,reduction,rif
legit,legitimate,respect,cred
Life Sci,Bio,Pharm,HC,Health
loan,debt
LP,limited partner,ltd partner
Manager,Boss,Supervisor
marriage,married
MD,Managing Director
method,approach,process
Mgmt,Management
Military,Army,Navy,Air Force,Armed Forces
Moving,Move,Switch,Change,Changing
MSRE,MS Real Estate,MS RE,Master Real Estate,Master RE
multiple,several,many,more than,three
Non target,Nontarget,Non-target
npv,net present value
OCR,OnCampus Recruiting
odds,chance,probability
often,frequent
ops,operation
outlook,future,state
Overcome,Overcoming,Recover
part-time,parttime,part time,PT
path,route,way,into
Physician,Doctor,Medical
pick,select,choose,choosing,decid
pitch,present,sell
place,location,where
PM,portfolio mg,portfolio manag
Poli Sci,Political Sci
Portion,Fraction,Percent,How many
post,after,next,following
prep,study,read
prestige,prestigious,elit
prevent,avoid
recruit,recrut
reject,deny,denied
RFP,Request for Proposal
resign,quit,leaving,leave
restruct,RX
resume,CV
rich,wealth
role,position,title
S&T,sales and trad,SnT,sales & trad,sales/trad
salar,comp,bonus,pay,paid
sample,example,template
score,result
sell side,sellside,sell-side,sale side,sale-side
sign-on,signing,relocation
similar,same,related,like,match
SNR,Sr,Senior
sophomore,sophmore
Start,begin,launch,found,creat
Start-up,Startup,Start up
structure,format
superday,super day,final round
test,exam,assessment
TFA,Teach for America
top,best,rank,order,strong
topic,subject
transcript,grade
typo,mistake,error,screw up,mess up
UG,Undergrad,Ugrad
valu,worth
VBA,Visual Basic
VP,vice president
vs,versus,diff,compar,which
Waitlist,Wait List,Wait-List,Waiting List
Why,Question,Answer
working capital,NWC
WSP,Wall St Prep
AC,Assessment cent
AIP,Alternative Investment
AM,asset management,asset mgmt
AUM,Assets Under Management
Big3,Big 3,Big three,CRA,rating agency
BIWS,Breaking into Wall St
Biz Dev,BizDev,BusDev,Bus Dev,Business Dev
BO,back office,back-office,b.o
BTS,Beat the St
Capital Markets,Cap. Markets,Cap Markets,Cap. Mkts,Cap Mkts
CFA,Chartered Financial Analyst
CIB,Corp Investment Bank
CIM,Confidential Info Memo
CMBS,mortgage
Collateralized Loan Obligation,CLO
CorpDev,Corp Dev,Corporate dev,Corp. Dev
CorpFin,Corporate Fin,Corp Fin,Corp. Fin
CRE,commercial real estate,commercial re
DCM,debt capital market
EB,Elite Boutiq
ECM,equity capital market
Econ Consult,Econ. Consult,Economic Consult,Economics Consult
ER,equity research,eqresearch,eq research,eq. research
ESG,Environmental,Social,Governance,Sustainab
ESOP,Employee Stock Option
FDP,Finance Development Program
FI,fixed income,fixed-income
FIG,financial institutions group
FO,front office,front-office
Forex,FX,Foreign Exchange
FSG,Sponsors
FT,full time,full-time
GCM,Global Capital Markets
gir,Global Investment Research
GWM,Global Wealth
HF,hedge fund,hedgefund,hedge-fund,H/F
HFT,high frequency
HY,High-Yield,High Yield
IB,investment bank,inv bank,I.bank,i-bank
IM,Investment Management,Investment Mgmt
L/S,long/short,long-short
Levfin,leverage,lev fin,lev-fin,lev. Fin
MC,Mgmt Consult,Management Consult
MF,megafund,mega fund,mega-fund
MM,middle market,middle-market,mid-market,mid market
MO,Middle Office,Middle-Office,Mid-Office,Mid Office
MSF,Master,MSc,Mfin,MS 
PB,private bank
PE,private equity
Public Finance,Pub Fin,Pubfin
PWM,private wealth management,private wealth mgmt
RA,Research Assoc,Research Assc
RE,real estate
repe,re pe,re private equity,real estate pe,real estate private equity
ROI,Return on investment
ROIC,return on invested capital
SA,summer analyst,intern
SEO,Sponsors for Educational Opportunity
TAS,Transaction
TMT,"technology, media, telecom"
TTS,Training the St
VC,venture capital
WM,Wealth Mgmt,Wealth Management
ATL,Atlanta
Canada,Canadian
China,Chinese
CLT,Charlotte
DC,Washington,D.C.
DFW,Dallas,Ft Worth,Ft. Worth,Fort Worth
HK,Hong Kong,HongKong
LA,Los Angeles
LND,London
MPLS,Minneapolis
NYC,New York,NY
OKC,Oklahoma City
Philly,Philadelphia
SF,San Fran
SG,Singapore
SLC,Salt Lake City
SV,Silicon Valley
US,United States,America,U.S.
Arizona State,Carey
BC,Boston College,Carroll
Berkeley,Haas,UCB
BU,Boston University
BYU,Brigham Young,Marriot,Mariot
Cambridge,Judge
CMU,Tepper,Carnegie Mellon
Columbia,CBS
Cornell,Johnson
Dartmouth,Tuck
Duke,Fuqua
Emory,Goizueta
FSA,Florida State
Georgetown,Mcdonoug,MSB,Gtown
Georgia Insitute,Scheller
HBS,Harvard Business School,Harvard MBA
HWS,Hobart
ICMA,Henley
Indiana,Kelley
Johns Hopkins,JHU
LBS,London Business School
LSE,London School of Economics
MBA,M7,bschool,b-school,business school
McGill,Desautels,Mc Gill
Michigan State,Broad
MIT,Sloan
Northwestern,Kellog,Kelog
Notre Dame,Mendoza
NYU,New York University,Stern
OSU,Ohio State,Fisher
Oxford,Said
PSU,Penn State University,Smeal
Rice University,Jones
Rochester,Simon
Rotterdam,RSM,Erasmus
Smith,Maryland,UMD
SMU,Southern Methodist
Stanford,GSB
Temple,Fox
Texas A&M,Mays
UCLA,Anderson
UF,University of Florida,Warrington
Umich,Michigan,Ross,U-mich,U mich
UNC,University of North Carolina,Kenan
University of Chicago,Booth,Uchicago,U Chicago
University of Minnesota,Carlson
University of Washington,Foster
Upenn,University of Penn,Wharton
USC,University of Southern California,Marshal
UT Austin,UT-Austin,University of Texas,McCombs
UVA,Virginia,Darden
Vanderbilt,Owen,Vandy
Washington,Olin,WUSTL
Yale SOM,Yale MBA,Yale School of

  • Prospect in IB-M&A
Apr 17, 2021 - 12:36pm

For the last 2 or 3 months, the app on my phone won't let me log in. For whatever reason, after I did log on a couple months ago, the next time it logged me out. Then when I tried to log back on, after I put in my password and pressed log on, the bananas just spun interminably... didn't let me get back on app... have tried a dozen times to log back on via app last month or two, and I just always get the banana spin. So basically, I can't post or make any comments from my phone for last 2 or 3 months... been a bit frustrating.  

Apr 17, 2021 - 9:08pm

kinda unrelated but when you click on a user's personal account and go to their most upvoted comments, redirect to any top comment, then go back to their account where it shows most upvoted comments it is actually the most recent comments instead (even though it says most upvoted comments). minor annoyance, but since we have your attention you should fix that too. 

Otherwise, pretty great site

Apr 28, 2021 - 1:59am

Not sure. Results are still very poor compared to Google search.

Try "Citi SF" on both sites.

WSO search results (top 5)
San Fran IB ----> NYC PE Possible?
Help With Offer: Lazard (SF) Or Citi
Thoughts On UBS San Fran?
Corp Dev In SF/San Mateo/Redwood
Is San Francisco THAT Bad??

Google search results (top5)
Citi Tech - Weakest Group in SF | Wall Street Oasis
Citi Tech IB - Most Underrated Group in SF?
Citi Tech SF Superday Help
Citi SF (Tech IB) Reputation?
Top Tech Groups - SF
 

Which do you think is more relevant to what I'm looking for?

Array

  • 1
Apr 29, 2021 - 11:31am

Thank you for this example...  we are on it.  What is happening on our side are the synonyms are overpowering the other keywords.  So "SF" automatically inject "San Fran" AND "San Francisco" but then "Citi" gets deemphasized as a result.  We'll get it fixed and improve the way synonyms are being injected to avoid this.

Super helpful, thanks 

Apr 20, 2021 - 6:07pm

It is super weird and it will sometime say, and this is extremely funny to me, "illegal request [not invalid, it says illegal], contact administrator" within a little red bar at the top.

No more fortnite

  • 1
Apr 21, 2021 - 4:24am

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