By Steve Rogers, Ecostat, Inc.
If you’re a member of the Florida State Horticultural Society, you already know about great benefits like knowledge sharing and networking at the annual conference. The FSHS website has professional development resources as well, like job posting, newsletters and the Annual Proceedings. The latest addition to our website is a powerful new search feature. Dr. Bill Castle asked us to improve the scope of references provided by FSHS’ online search and the result is an in-depth way to mine our Proceedings for current and historical references dating back to 1888.
The difference between the old search engine and our new one is that the former was based on Google. Google’s algorithms are designed to hone in on the best answer to your search queries. In other words, Google pre-filters it’s results to give you what it thinks you want to know. There’s a 100-reference limit to what Google provides you through the FSHS website. Sometimes, though, you might want to find ALL references related to your query without the automatic filtering provided by Google. That’s what our new search feature does for you–it returns as many results as are associated with your search query. This could number in the thousands in some cases. You can fine-tune these results to a smaller number after your initial query.
To use FSHS’ new Search, go to fshs.org/zoomsearch to see the main search query box (Fig. 1). Enter your search words in the text box and click the Search button. FSHS will take you to a new window containing your results. (We’re working on improving the appearance of the results page and look forward to hearing your ideas for this as well.) You can refine your results and limit or expand your search for other terms related to the original query from there.
OR, EITHER or AND It helps to know how the new search feature works to use it effectively. First, it assumes your terms are intended to be used with an “OR” joiner. You’ll see this as, “match any search words” in the main dialog panel. This means that if you search for “gottwald graham canker”, you’ll get all results containing references to either “gottwald OR graham OR canker”. This could return more references than you want to see. To change this default search behavior, select the “all search words” radio button located below the search query box. This is the same as using an “AND” joiner. Your results list should now be smaller as it’ll be pruned to those results containing all three of your search terms in the same reference. More tips for searching are at fshs.org/zoomsearch.
Power search An experimental search feature appearing on our new search page is what we’re calling “Power Search”. This is under the “Add CRDF Reports” tab in the search panel (Fig. 1). Power Search will comb both FSHS Proceedings and quarterly reports from the Citrus Research and Development Foundation and show results from both on the same page. This is a great time saver if you’re auditing the performance of research projects, because you can track the work from proposal through publication this way without having to visit different websites. We may add other citrus-specific reference databases to this feature in the future.
Reducing background noise An important design feature of our new Search is to reduce the background noise you often get by searching for citrus information on the broader web. There, advertisements and other pieces of not-very-useful information are pushed in front of you that may or may not relate to your search. Our new Search is designed to help you target your search efforts and mine a range of citrus references without having to deal with that noise. Currently, our new Search contains Proceedings volumes dating back to 1980. More volumes are being added each month until references dating back to the earliest volumes from the 1888’s are included.
Our new search feature is the result of a member’s idea on how to make our website better. To take advantage of FSHS’ new search feature, go to fshs.org and try it out. While you’re there, consider signing up for or renewing your membership in the FSHS to enjoy benefits and support future innovation on our website, annual conference and member resources.
Acknowledgements The author acknowledges the contributions of Dr. Bill Castle, Dr. Mark Ritenour and the staff and board of the Florida State Horticultural Society for this article.
Author disclaimer The information in this article is provided “as is”. The authors and publisher of this article disclaim any loss or liability, either directly or indirectly as a consequence of applying the information presented, or in regard to the use and application of any of this information, in whole or in part, for any purpose whatsoever. No guarantee is given, either expressed or implied, in regard to the merchantability, accuracy, or acceptability of the information. Dr. Steven Rogers is a well-known innovator of digital technologies in citrus and works with FSHS on their member website.