[RFC] Test drive: Ubuntu Documentation Search

Matthew East mdke at ubuntu.com
Wed Apr 23 07:21:17 UTC 2008


On Wed, Apr 23, 2008 at 1:59 AM, Nick Barcet <nick.barcet at canonical.com> wrote:
> Jordan Mantha wrote:
>  > Is this similar to http://search.ubuntuwire.com/ ?
>  It is similar on the technology used but Dustin's version is much more
>  comprehensive in the refinements allow and feature full.  I particularly
>  like the search plug in for Firefox which is installable from the main
>  search page.  Dustin's version could however get some additional sources
>  from [1] which, I believe, are not all referenced in his.

I think we should be careful not to take a "the more sources, the
merry" approach to this. I'd like Dustin's work to form the basis for
an official Ubuntu search tool, which can be plugged into the various
help sites that we have available (in particular help.ubuntu.com) and
maybe assist as a backend for the desktop help search. The choice and
careful weighting of the sources is crucial - trusted documentation
sites, web forums, Launchpad answers, user mailing lists and
potentially even irc support logs are all places where useful
information can be found, as long as its presented in the right way,
but indexing *.ubuntu.com and *.launchpad.net is not going to provide
for helpful results, I don't think.

The spec is already looking pretty sweet. I only have a few brief comments:

* I think the current approach (searching the web, and then refining
to the different specific searches) is the wrong way around. The first
search should be of all of the specifically defined reference sources
(suitably weighted), and then the user should have the option to
refine the search to one specific source, or expand it to the whole

* Man and info pages are not as helpful to most Ubuntu users as it
assumes. The majority of desktop users don't have a need or the
understanding to read them. I think they should be weighted much
lower. The key authoritative sources of documentation for desktop
users are https://help.ubuntu.com and http://library.gnome.org/users/
(and, if we think about including material for Ubuntu derivatives like
Kubuntu and Xubuntu, the equivalent upstream sites for KDE and XFCE

* It refers to the wrong wiki for documentation: the documentation
wiki is at https://help.ubuntu.com/community

* I don't think all mailing lists should be indexed - just the user
support ones.

* Is it really useful to index code.launchpad.net? That causes some
odd results which are unlikely to be intelligible or helpful to the
non-developer (as an example, try searching the "Code" section for

* As outstanding issues, I would add whether the search tool can be
plugged into different sites such as help.ubuntu.com as a search bar
on every page. Also whether the page can be themed a bit more.

Thanks Dustin for your work on this, and I'm confident that this will
provide a great new feature over the coming 6 months.

Matthew East
gnupg pub 1024D/0E6B06FF

More information about the ubuntu-doc mailing list