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I’ve been working in search for over twenty years and you really, really cannot get 100% specific and 100% sensitive. In search evaluation, those are called “precision” and “recall”. You are lucky to get to 50% on either one. I got the Netflix search working better than that, but that was in a very specific domain, just movies and TV.
The most common solution is to try and get the first few result to be very specific (high precision), matching the customer’s query. Weaker matches are farther down and on later pages of results.
I’ll go look over the previous discussion to see if there is anything I can add.
http://observer.wunderwood.org/ (my blog)
There were some long debates about the search function in the past. This is one side of the issue. Before the newest version, the search function would return too much (it was over-sensitive) - for example, if you searched on "diagnosis," it would return diagnosis, diagnostics, diagnosed, etc. etc. etc. It was a big argument to get it to be more specific. I wanted it to be both 100% sensitive and 100% specific but it seems you can't have both given the search software that Mark is using. I agree that it would be better if you could also do the kind of partial search you are asking for here, perhaps by using an asterisk at the end of the search term. But if I had to pick one way (sensitivity or specificity) I'd pick the latter, i.e., the way it is now. It was useless for me, and some others, to have too much returned every time.
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I wish I could shut up, but I can't, and I won't. - Desmond Tutu