Tips for Using Search on LawHelp.org
LawHelp.org uses the SOLR open source search platform. This is a natural language, full-text search that supports both simple word searches and phrase searches. The information below introduces how to search this site, and covers:
· What is searched?
· Basic Searches
· Refining Searches
· Search Results
· Alternate Language Search
WHAT IS SEARCHED? (top)
The search extends to all of the major content areas of the site.
· Attachment Content (including PDF documents, as long as they've been scanned "OCR," which converts image to text)
· Body Text
Note: A news item will only return in the search if it is not expired.
Text on External websites is NOT indexed and will NOT be returned in searches.
BASIC SEARCHES (top)
Most searches can be written by entering the words and phrases you're interested in.
· If you want to see documents dealing with custody you can start with a single-word query.
Example: a search for "custody" will find all items on the site that include the word custody.
Note: The search has natural language parsing built in. This means a search for "divorcing" will match "divorce" and "divorced" and so on.
· The search engine also contains an index of common legal synonyms to support natural language processing.
Example: a search for "dissolution" will match resources containing the word "dissolution" as well as resources containing "divorce."
· There is a suggested spelling feature for commonly misspelled words.
Example: a search for "afadavit" will result in the message "Did you mean to search for affidavit?"
· To see items that refer to a series of words that occur in a specific order, such as uncontested divorce, enter the whole phrase.
Example: a search for uncontested divorce returns items with matches of any word forms of uncontested AND divorce. The closer the words are together in the text, the higher the item returns. If the words are next to each other, higher ranking will be given to the order of the terms as they appear in the document. For example, "uncontested divorce" would score higher than "divorce uncontested."
Note: Words split by a dash or a capital letter as a phrase search, meaning - LegalServices or Legal-Services is the equivalent of "Legal Services".
REFINING SEARCHES (top)
You can make your searches more specific by combining the words you used for basic searches with characters such as quotes and plus signs.
· " " (double quotes) - Use quotes to make sure that only the specific word or phrase within the quotes is found.
Example: "bank" will only find the word bank and not banking, banked or banker.
Note: If there is an uneven amount of quotes in a search, the quotes will be ignored all together.
· '+' and '-' characters are treated as "mandatory" and "prohibited" commands for the words that come after them.
Example (+): To see items that only have Legal and Services in the item, search Legal + Services
Example (-): To see items that have the word landlord without the word tenant in the same item, search landlord - tenant
SEARCH RESULTS (top)
Search Results are initially displayed in one general list, with a default Best Match filter determining the order. Results can also be filtered by the following categories:
· Newest (orders the results by date created with the most recent at the top of the results)
Resources located by the search are displayed first, ranked in order of relevance.
Relevance is determined by a number of factors, including in which field(s) and how often the keyword(s) appear. For example, if a keyword matches a word in the resource title, that item will rank higher than an item with the word matching in the resource body text only. Similarly, the more frequently a search term occurs in a document, the higher it will rank.
Resources are boosted higher in the search results and will generally rank higher than News Items and Organizations. However, a News Item or Organization may be ordered above Resources and News items if it is a strong match.
Each search result item will show the following information:
· Title of the item
· The item's content type (Attachment, Resource, Event, etc.)
· Item's channel name
· Item's description (Note: the search result will only show the first 100 characters of the description)
· Links to other languages and formats in which the item may be available
ALTERNATE LANGUAGE SEARCHES (top)
The search engine supports natural language searching in English and Spanish. If you enter a search in a different language, the search engine will look for an exact match with the word(s) you have entered.
Searches from a bilingual mirror site will return results in that language. If there is no mirror site, or if a non-English search is conducted from the English site, the search will return the English version of the resource first, with the alternate language linked below:
Note: The search engine only supports searches in languages that use the Latin (aka Roman) alphabet. The search cannot match search terms in languages that use different alphabets. For example, if you enter a search using Russian characters, the search cannot match Russian resources containing that text.