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March 17, 2010


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Eli Bastin

I'm rather confused by news that the BBC spends a huge amount of money on its website, meaning that services such as Six Music etc may be cut, while the search is appalling. Why do they even bother to have a search box if it doesn't 'work'? It really is quite extraordinary!

Ruth O'Leary

And given the huge cuts to the website budget the BBC are proposing, it's not likely to get any better any time soon.

Nina Chachu

Thanks for saying what I have been thinking. In fact I have basically just given up on trying to find anything via their search, which is pretty awful, as you said. And this is a website which I probably visit at least once a day! Apart from listening on the radio, watching on TV, and listening to podcasts!


Is it me or has the search got worse over time. The listing links certainly have. I know I can never find anything so search the site through Google, and always find it that way. Crazy.


Whilst you can't do this from the first results page, you can sort by date once you've restricted the results to news & sport http://search.bbc.co.uk/search?go=homepage&Search=Search&tab=ns&q=pakistan%20kidnap&order=date&scope=all

Matthew McDonnell

I am in charge of the BBC Search and am happy to respond to your criticisms.

One of the hardest things about creating a search for the BBC is that the corporation produces so many different types of content (news, programmes, clips, recipes, fact files, games and so on) and they need to be handled differently in search results. In the past we have tried to order everything using a relevance calculation which leads to the situation you describe where an old news story can beat a newer one because it is deemed more relevant to the query. Clearly not an acceptable outcome!

As you say, we are rolling out a new search system (e.g. www.bbc.co.uk/search/david_cameron) and this is one of the things we are addressing. The results are split up into sections and each section is ordered in the best way - so news is in date order but features, cooking recipes etc are in relevance order. (Incidentally we have split news and sport in the new system as you suggest).

You can read much more about our approach here - http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/bbcinternet/2010/01/bbc_launches_enhanced_search.html?page=0

We are still playing with the layout and functionality of the new search so any feedback is most welcome - there is a feedback form on the new search results pages.

There are other features in the pipeline that I hope will help things including the ability to set advanced filters on search results (limiting by section, date etc) and auto-suggest/ spelling suggestions.

We hope to have the full feature-set rolled out by the summer.


John Hesling

Your search was done after the start of the BBC enhancements mentioned in BBC Matt McDonnell's post above.

Previously BBC search results were even worse! and if I recall correctly at one stage BBC search was more of a google search of www. Hopefully things are improving with BBC promising further enhancements, so your concerns about a lack of advanced search features are being addressed.

Once you have found something on the BBC site where do you go from there, have you noted the controversy regarding http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/theeditors/2010/03/bbc_news_linking_policy.html how BBC news should link to external sources.

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