ES 2.2 Enhanced Search 2.2 - Similar Threads

Screenshot 2020-07-20 at 13.37.50.png
In the beginning, XenForo Enhanced Search (XFES) was intended to be a simple drop-in replacement for MySQL full text search, primarily aimed at large forums whose operation would potentially suffer when attempting to search very large database tables.

As a drop-in, XFES only made use of the enhanced search index and speed for the formal search system, but with version 2.2 we are starting to leverage more of the power afforded by the Elasticsearch back-end.

Similar threads​

A useful tool for surfacing content on your forum is a list of Similar or related threads, which can be displayed along with a primary thread. Visitors who have landed on that page from a search engine will often look for related material to continue their reading, and Similar threads offer a great way to provide that in an automated fashion.

One limitation of the usefulness of Similar threads is a determination of just how similar or related the results actually are. This is where XFES comes into its own, as the Elasticsearch back-end provides a specific ability to search for more like this using the current thread as a search parameter. Given a decent amount of content from which to pluck similar results, this provides an excellent list of threads in which the viewer of the current thread may be interested.

Similar threads widget​

We display our similar threads results in a widget, and by default we place it below the quick reply area on thread view pages, but as it is a widget you can choose to place it wherever you like on the page.

Screenshot 2020-07-20 at 13.37.50.png
Screenshot 2020-07-20 at 13.33.31.png

You could even choose to place multiple instances of the widget on the page, and make use of the power of the widget system to control how each instance of the widget behaves, setting parameters such as the number of thread results visible, the style of display, the source forums searched and the time period within which to search.

Screenshot 2020-07-20 at 13.52.22.png
Screenshot 2020-07-20 at 13.44.36.png

Controlling the index​

Of course, it's possible to fine-tune the way in which results are found, and we provide options to positively-weight results based on being in the same forum as the source / original thread, and based on how new the related content may be.

Screenshot 2020-07-20 at 13.54.46.png

But wait, there's more...

The extreme speed and efficiency of XFES allows us to offer another, related tool to our arsenal: similar thread suggestion at thread composition time.

Suggest while composing​

Everyone hates being told that a question they've asked has already been dealt with, or that the topic about which they have posted has already been covered.

XFES 2.2 aims to minimise the occurrence of this, by suggesting related threads that may contain content similar to that which the user is about to post, while they are composing. XFES is fast enough that sensible suggestions can be made in real-time while the user is typing the title of their new thread, which may prompt them to visit one of the suggested existing threads rather than posting a potential duplicate.

Screenshot 2020-07-22 at 11.05.41.png Screenshot 2020-07-22 at 11.38.43.png Screenshot 2020-07-22 at 11.40.09.png

The thread suggestion system can be a real game-changer for unwanted duplicate threads.

The system can be turned on and off through the control panel, along with options for how many similar threads to suggest.

Screenshot 2020-07-20 at 14.40.13.png

It's also possible to prevent the suggestion system from appearing at all on a per-forum basis. For example, we would never want to be pestered with suggestions for similar threads when composing a new release announcement, or a Have You Seen thread.

Screenshot 2020-07-20 at 14.42.39.png

In conclusion​

We think you'll agree that the addition of Similar threads functionality to XenForo Enhanced Search adds a compelling new ability to an already very powerful system.

By way of a reminder, XFES requires that your server has Elasticsearch 2.0 or newer, and can be purchased here.
Is there a way to make it so Similar Threads show for guests? Seems you have to be logged in right now. For SEO purposes, I feel like Similar Threads could be beneficial :)
Thanks, so if I want to exclude some nodes it should be something like !$xf.reply.containerKey == 'node-xxx' AND 'node-xxy'
I just updated our forum tonight. The Similar Threads has not received a positive response due to pointing to unrelated threads topics. i was asked to remove it. So I uninstalled and removed it from the server.

1- Did I removed the Similar Threads correctly?

2- Am I to understand that Enhanced Search is not as useful as it used to be? (large forum).

Many thanks,

Similar threads can be removed by just setting the widget to not display anywhere.

You shouldn't uninstall XFES - it provides much better search functionality than standard SQL search.
Similar threads can be removed by just setting the widget to not display anywhere.

You shouldn't uninstall XFES - it provides much better search functionality than standard SQL search.

Understood. I followed the instructions here:

Thanks Brogan, have a great holiday... as best you can. :)

I have had mixed experience with similar threads. Some threads show completely unrelated items. Others have completely unexpected but extremely related content. I think it works well if titles are well written and similar tags are used. Plus you can play around with options to show similar threads from same node along with time period to prefer. Based on how active your forum is, these two settings could improve the quality of suggestions immensely. Another thing you can do is to lower the number of items to 1-2 if your forum does not have too much related content. One other possibility is to use the simpler widget and place it at another location.
Is there a field where we can omit certain phrases/words not to be included when showing results of similar threads e.g and, or, when, what, on, it,?

I am still eager to see this implemented. Currently, the similar threads "algorithms" spits out irrelevant results rendering this feature useless sometime. Words like the five Ws, coordinating conjunctions or some adverbs in some cases mess up the entire results.
Top Bottom