All in all, it's always been a pain for me to use. It's almost always easier to simply use a Google search on my site to find what I want. However, this is only because my site is well indexed by Google. Not everyone is so lucky. In this thread, I'm going to go through some of the problems I've had, in no specific order.
My memory is fairly sub-par, so I'll likely recall a few other complaints and suggestions over time that I'll add to this list, but this is simply a thread to get a discussion started. A thread to gather feedback and gather comments and further suggestions from the rest of the community. A thread to hopefully drive more attention to improving one of the most basic and most used functionalities of many forums, searching.
Have you ever tried to search for an app in the marketplace using the built in search function here?
Let's give an example. Try and search for this app now:
It's called "Links Directory," so you'd search for just that, right? Links Directory.
Huh. It's not there. The title of the app is clearly "Links Directory," but it's nowhere to be found on the first page. Why? It seems to be simply because the search results are organized purely by the submission date, relevance has no factor here. The actual app is third to last on the search results page.
A quick Google makes the page significantly easier to find.
It comes up as the very first result.
Searching by thread, not post author
One thing I find rather annoying is that I cannot search by a threads author. You can only search by post author. So, say you want to find a thread started by another user.
The only way you can go about doing this is searching by the post author. This will include all threads that the user has posted in. There is currently no way to search only by the threads author alone. A simple extra functionality that I'm interested in hearing others opinions on.
This could be useful when trying to search for a story a user posted, a guide a user wrote, so on and so forth.
Searching by multiple tags
Currently you can search for multiple tags at once, but this isn't exactly what I mean. If you search for an image with the tags "blue" and "nature", as an example, it will return all images from the gallery with either the tag "blue" or "nature". Unlike with keywords where you can define to search for "all words" or "any words", you cannot search for posts that contain "all tags" or "any tags."
This is a functionality that I would personally find extremely useful in my community, especially in the gallery and downloads system. When you have a massive amount of images or posts in your community to weed through, being restricted to searching by a single tag at a time can be very inefficient. When you have a community that makes intensive use of the tagging system, why should you be restricted to only searching by one tag at a time? Tags can be used to describe many things, especially in images, and this is why many popular image hosting platforms (such as Gelbooru) make use of this basic feature.
My suggestion here is simple. Give the option to search for either "all tags" or "any tags," just as you can with keywords.
You can't search archived and live posts at the same time
This is a functionality issue I've posted about before. The technicalities of the problem are understandable, and it's more or less considered a "trade-off" for using the archiving system by most. Apparently, with some configuring, you might be able to get Sphinx to search in both tables.
This also seems to be an issue already acknowledged by developers, but I'm simply posting it here for the sake of including everything I can think of in my list.
(Bug) Searching by title and content in archives only searches by content.
This is a bug and a problem I've just happened to come across. When searching by "title and content" for archived posts, it only searches by content. It does not search by thread titles. See the following example. I'm searching for posts with the keyword "Konata" that are made by the user "Shu" in my site's Fanfiction forum. This is what is returned when searching by title and content.
Only one result. There should be at least several. This baffled and frustrated me for a while, until I happened to figure out the cause. Now, if we go back and search by content only, we'll get the same thing. But, if we go back and search by title only, see for yourself.
The most logical conclusion seems to be that the search function refuses to search by both the title and content, even though this is the default option. Try it yourself. Go search for something generic in your forum archives. Search by both title and content, title only, and content only. See some inconsistencies with the results? This is just one of the problems the archiving system brings. It's a good idea, but there are a number of bugs and problems I've seen because of it, to the point I'm considering simply disabling it and unarchiving all posts on my board at this stage. It's still a relatively new feature though, so I can't really complain all that much about it.