Folksy Ltd

Search Algorithm

Brand New Folksy Seller - Enjoying exploring the whole Folksy set-up!
One thing that has struck me though, as a Buyer I’m finding the Search Algorithm somewhat bemusing… I’ll give a specific example:

Search for “Metal Detecting T-Shirt” and the algorithm returns with No Results and then goes on to take a ‘guess’ at a secondary search that it thinks might be close. All fine - except that it’s secondary ‘guess’ is for T-Shirts.
Now, i appreciate the restrictions a bot has over a human but it’s pretty clear that someone searching for Metal Detecting T-Shirt is unlikely to have an interest in T-Shirts in general. If the first search algorithm returns matches for Metal AND Detecting AND T-Shirt then shouldn’t the secondary algorithm return matches on Metal OR Detecting OR T-Shirt.
Indeed - i would suggest that the original search should return on both of those conditions (with the ‘OR’ matches coming after the ‘AND’ matches in the results) if the original search doesn’t return a set number of results as a minimum, so that the buyer has a reasonable number of listings to browse through.

Buyers expect to see a choice of items in search results - when there are only a few (or none) it makes the site as a whole look unsubstantial. And you also don’t want to be returning results that are totally irrelevant to the original search query - which currently could well be the case for many searches.

I also find the search ‘auto-fill’ a little annoying. (Is this folksy or is it my browser?)
Again - type in Metal Detecting T-Shirt - not happy with the results returned so immediately go back to type in Metal Detecting … but auto-fill kindly adds t-shirt in the search box and gives me the exact same result… Very frustrating.

As a Buyer I find this somewhat clumsy and would be inclined to move elsewhere (with my Buyer hat on I lose patience quite quickly with a site that doesn’t behave extremely intuitively).

Just an observation…

1 Like

I have to confess I’m a bit confused.
Perhaps there are no ‘Metal detecting T Shirts’ on Folksy…which is why there are no results. I checked your shop and I don’t see one? It seems logical to me that it would show you other T shirts as those words are in your initial search. Curious as to why you picked that.
I did a search for ‘Shakespeare T Shirt’ which you do have in your shop…and your item came up.


I have to agree with Kim @KBCreations if you use the words T Shirts in your search then others will come up.

Hi Guys - thanks for getting back…
I wasn’t actually raising this as a problem for me personally as a seller - it was more a concern for (that current buzz phrase) poor buyer experience.

You are quite right - There are no Metal Detecting T-Shirts on Folksy - I picked Metal Detecting as a keyword search because it rarely has very many hits and combined it with T-Shirt which tends to have loads - i was testing the search function to see how it would respond to an enquiry by a (in this case) Metal Detector enthusiast.

The point being that the search enquiry for Metal Detecting T-Shirt - having failed to find any listings on Folksy for Metal+Detecting+TShirt (because there aren’t any) concluded that the most likely next best search would be for “Tshirt” (of which there are several but none that would be of interest to my hypothetical Metal Detectorist).

I was just questioning the logic of the search algorithm in choosing to ignore the first 2 keywords in the original search (Metal and Detecting) and just searching on T-Shirt (which as it happens is widely generic and unlikely to be of interest to the subject of Metal Detecting).

It would seem more likely to return results of interest to the querant if, having been unable to find any matching terms for Metal+Detecting+TShirt, to have run the subsequent search on Metal(or)Detecting(or)Tshirt. Broadening the search criteria but, significantly, including all of the requested Keywords.

My hypothetical Metal Detecting enthusiast has no interest in TShirts per se, but may be interested in Metal Detecting Cufflinks, or knitted wooly Cozies for Metal Detectors, neither of which is going to turn up under a search for T-Shirts, but would turn up on a search for “Metal Detecting”.

For a Search this feels like a really bad results return - The Buyer isn’t being shown items he has expressed an interest in.

I’m not throwing it up as a problem for me as a seller - it just seems like an area where the search algorithm could return more pertinent results for a potential buyer.

1 Like

But it simply may not be able to…I suspect there is nothing on this site to do with metal detecting or that has the phrase in their descriptions or tags for Folksy to find. I have been selling here for 3 years and I haven’t seen anything like that…

I’ve just run my own version of this looking for ‘fordite bangle’ knowing that the phrase won’t return any hits and rather than showing me all the fordite hits (16 items) its shown all the bangle hits (7000+). @dougfolksy and @folksycontent would it be possible to change the search algorithm so that if it returned no results with the exact phrase it returned results with any part of the search term? How does it decide which is the most important part of the search phrase that has been put in if the entire phrase produces no results?

1 Like

@SashaGarrett - So much more succinctly put than my rambling dialogue! :slight_smile:

In your example the querant is much more likely to have an interest in Fordite Necklaces than Plastic Bangles, but is shown 7000 Bangles and no Fordite. It looks as if currently, if there isn’t an exact match, the Keyword with the most returns is selected - but that is far from necessarily the Keyword that is most pertinent to the buyer.


Hi Sasha. Ahh I see what you’re saying. I just did the same search to check and it says: “Your original search for ‘fordite bangle’ returned no results. Here are the items results for 'bangle” and then gives 7k+ results for “bangle”.

I’m not sure how it chooses which search query to show results for in those cases. I will ask Doug and get back to you.

This is interesting…

Try swapping the words around, (not like you would if you were searching normally) and search 'bangle fordite’
Then the fordite items are shown rather than bangles…

Actually I think you’re right! If there are no results for the whole search, it works backwards.

eg someone searches for "red leather handbag"
If there were no results for that, it would first take off “red” and just show results for “leather handbag”.
If there were no results for that, it would first take off “red” and “leather” and just show results for “handbag”.

1 Like

Could the algorithm be re-educated? In your handbag example the person might be more interested in red handbags than leather handbags but grammar has taught us to write red leather handbag rather than leather red handbag. So could it search for (red) + (leather) + (handbag) first and if that brings back nothing it then searches for (red or leather) + (handbag) that way the person could see all the red handbags (a vinyl one might be just the right shade) but also all the leather handbags (maybe they didn’t mean red leather they meant scarlet leather). Wouldn’t really help with my fordite example where the person might be happy with a fordite bracelet instead of a bangle (not that I have any fordite bracelets listed) or on seeing that fordite is available contact me and commissioning a bangle - at the moment they might just assume that no one sells fordite and go elsewhere.

1 Like