View Full Version : Why not add "How To Search for More Stories by Author" directions?

08-27-2006, 12:47 PM
Why not add step-by-step directions that appear on each page of the Stories' forum telling people exactly "How To Search for More Stories by Author"? Make this a sticky (?)--for information only. Such a post addresses the issues of telling people to use the Search function, how to use the Search function effectively, and negates the necessity of additional sub-forums for particular authors.

The bottom line is that most people don't use the Search function OR don't use it effectively. Those who do use the Search function, including me the first few times, only use the basic function (key word or phrase) and then get tons of results, most of which are irrelevant because the search is too broad.

People need specific directions. In the case of stories by particular authors, they need directions (1) to do an Advanced Search, which takes them to the Search Forum Menu, and (2) to tell them what to do when they get to this menu. I offer what I did to perform three such effective searches. Change or add to these as you see fit.

Directions for finding all stories by a particular author:

Click on "Search" at top menu bar.
Choose "Advanced Search," which takes you to the Search Forum menus.
At the Search Forum menu page, type in the name of the author you're looking for at "Search by User Name," which is on the right side of the page.
Underneath "Search by User Name," choose "Threads Started by User."
Scroll to Forum menu list, also on the right, and choose Post Stories, OR if you want fiction and nonfiction, choose Stories.
Go to the bottom of the page and click on "Submit Search."

I performed three such searches between 10:20 and 10:26 a.m., 27 Aug 2006. I followed steps 1-6 first for TicklishLurker and got 17 hits, ALL pertinent to the fictional stories posted in the Post Stories sub-forum of Stories. I hit my back button and changed (Step 3) "TicklishLurker" to "Knight" and got 10 hits, again all relevant. I did this again for Isabeau (16 relevant hits) and myself (three relevant hits). I then went to the bottom of the page, hit "Reset Fields" and performed a search for all threads started by me and got five hits. The last two searches were my double-check; that is, I know I've posted three stories on Post Stories and a total of five threads, before this one.

I then backtracked and did a basic search (key phrase) for "how to search forums" and got six pages of results, many of which were irrelevant because this basic search did what it was designed to do--it brought up all mentions of "search forums." Perusal of relevant hits showed that on 26 Jan 2005 MTP Jeff posted links and other information telling people how to perform searches using Google when the Search function on this site was down. A subsequent post in response to a question by Mitchell (I think Jeff answered this too), gave the information that search results were limited to 500. Should my suggestion be followed, it might be wise, if still true, to add Jeff's 26 Jan 2005 post AND the fact that the maximum number of hits for any search is 500. If threads and posts are kicked out of the overall forum after a number of years, then such a sticky (or whatever it's called) needs to instruct searchers also to search whatever archives exist for posted stories. This will enable users to (1) find all stories posted by particular authors and (2) posted stories of particular themes.

To me, additional sub-forums for authors makes it less likely that people will access these forums unless they are already familiar with the author's work. The above suggestion should negate the need for such forums while satisfying the need to make accessing stories by particular people easily possible. In theory, "how-to" directions on one site should carry over to another--that is, tell the user how to do it and they'll learn and will know how to perform more effective searches on TMF.

08-31-2006, 12:31 PM
I think this is a good idea..i for one never knew how to use the advanced search method..when i wanted to read stories by a particular writer, i would click on their screenname..then look at the threads they had started and proceeded from there..I have to agree with you that the individual story archives don't seem to be as viewed as the main post story forum.

09-01-2006, 09:36 AM
Isabeau, Melanie, first, THANK YOU for responding! I've been waiting to hear what others thought. I was concerned that I may have offended those who suggested the subforums. Haven't heard anything from a site administrator. Guess they're busy elsewhere.

TMF has one of the best advanced search functions I've seen. It's a shame more people aren't aware of it. But, like I said in original post, people--me included--usually need specific instructions.

It will be interesting to see what happens.

TMF Jeff
09-01-2006, 09:46 AM
Anything that helps people use the forum is a good thing, but on the other hand we're not looking to eliminate the need for author sub forums. They exist for more reasons than just convenience.

09-02-2006, 12:22 AM
Anything that helps people use the forum is a good thing, but on the other hand we're not looking to eliminate the need for author sub forums. They exist for more reasons than just convenience.

Thank you, Jeff, for responding. I'm sorry to say that your post, while diplomatic, wasn't informative to me. Clearly, I'm missing something. I didn't, or didn't mean to, suggest that any existing or future subforums be eliminated. From what I read, I got the impression that additional subforums for the three people for whom they've been requested (TicklishLurker, Isabeau, and Knight) weren't desired. I'm not a site administrator and I have no idea of the problems and challenges involved with that duty. Whatever y'all decide is fine with me. I continue to think, however, that the search function, particularly the advanced function, will be used with more frequency if people are made aware of it and how to use it in an "in-your-face" way put up by the site administrators. Am I going to bitch and moan if this doesn't occur? No. I already know how to use this function and provided a means for others to do the same. But, reality is that few people are ever going to read this post, especially when it gets pushed back to subsequent pages. Further reality is that site administrators know this forum far better than a newcomer like me and can add other information to such a "How To" post. You and your fellow site administrators have assembled a fine, well-maintained forum. I have no doubt you will continue to keep it so whatever you decide to do with author subforums.

TMF Jeff
09-02-2006, 05:21 AM
Sorry, I guess that was a pretty abrupt response before. It wasn't clear to me that what you were suggesting was in response to other suggested sub-forums. I assumed you were saying that the author sub-forums should be elimenated and replaced with better search engine instructions for some reason.