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Labels in Search (Confluence 5.2.3)

Today, i have tried the new Confluence Release. Everything was fine until the moment, i searched for my content. Pages, witch have my search keyword only as a label are not in the search result anymore. Is this a bug (i hope so) or a feature?

If it is a feature (i hope not!): what can i do to include labels for all my users without using extra search syntax?

12 answers

1 accepted

14 votes
Answer accepted

I think the real issue here is that search in Confluence is very much a black box. There should be some way to configure it, and apply your own custom weighting to match the needs of your organization.

This is something we'll look into - I've filed a ticket for you here CONF-30410. Just to clarify why we did this ... we found that people were labeling pages called "foo" with the label "foo" just to artificially boost their ranking in the search results. In short, it was a way to game the system. With the new search algorithm we found that boosting on labels was much too high and artificially skewing search results and providing poor results. Also, it's a bad usability experience if someone has to label their page JUST to have it show up in search results. Given this reasoning, we took labels out of the search results equation (as part of our overall algorithm changes) and we began to see an increase in the percentage of successful searches.

But it sounds from the answers threads and release notes comments that people apply labels for the "synonym" use case where one person might search for "customer" and another person searches for "client" but they're looking for the same content. Surprisingly this didn't come up once in months of use on Confluence OnDemand and even longer on two internal production instances within Atlassian even though the search success rates improved. Nevertheless, "synonyms" seems like a valid use of labels that we do want to support so we'll look into adding labels text back into the search equation (without the boosting).

Thanks Bill, much appreciated.

Good explanation provided by Bill.

What a surprise that we can no longer easily search by labels. This syntax is too complex for many of our users: "labelText:chocolate". Especially after we trained them to add labels to their pages which was a GREAT way to surface content in a way that made sense to them. Please, please put this feature back the way it was!!!

we found that people were labeling pages called "foo" with the label "foo" just to artificially boost their ranking in the search results.

Wow! What if our customers aren't gaming the system?

I agree with Lyn, I had not used Confluence for 5 years and was surporised that labels were no longer part of the search result. What exactly would we use a label for if not to bosst the search ranking of a page?

Since Confluence search is not Google search, it doesn't seem logical to close out the ability to throw some weight behind certain documents so they come up on top regardless of their age or likes. If we are to use the same terminology for public search, these would be considered "sponsored links". There is always a need for these kinds of results when writing reference documentation. If a moderator was concerned about who can have this power, Atlassian can just make this a role so they can give the ability to skew search results in this way or guarantee that a page comes up when someone searches for a term that is one of its labels. Heck, you could even have a search option when you make your query to consider tags when searching. This way you could add search boxes to pages with a macro and configure it so you could force-inject filtering terms in it so you could have a search that just is for blog posts, for instance.

However, just turning this off completely with nary an notice is a bit frustrating when our organization has invested a lot of time making an ordered tagging process so that we can give certain pages top billing for specific search terms. As a documentation tool, it's hard to imagine restricting this, especially when we see so many support sites with terrible search because there isn't a way to give artificial weight to fundamental documents so that random, unhelpful documents crowd search results.

From the release notes:

  • Labels browser: We have removed the panel that displayed related labels on the search results page, and the search results no longer favours labels. You can still search for pages by their labels using the advanced search syntax labelText:chocolate.

More details here. Must admit, I think this is a retrograde step. My users will frequently search content using terms which only appear in the labels.

Thanks Alex! i hoped, mistranslated the release notes. For me it is a retrograde step as well.

For a related post see:

What is going on Atlassian? You remove the importance of labels and announce it very quietly and with no explanation. Do you know how much time and effort I (and probably 1000s of other Confluence users) have put into getting other users to use labels?

If they're not a part of the search criteria, then why bother with them? It's at least 50% of why we have them in the first place.

Also, did anyone vote for this measure? As far as I know there's never been an issue with labels that required them being demoted. So why change something as fundamental as this if we were not asking you to do so?

That's awful! We've gone through painstaking efforts to get our users to use labels as a way to address the problem "I can't find what I'm looking for". So, we tell our users if it was difficult for you to locate, add a label of text that makes sense to you and use it - that way, you'll be able to find it easily.

That is a huge step backwards in usability and adoption.

Karie, I'm totally with you on that! :) I've just finished writing a style guide that includes a section on using labels and why they're important. I'm going through a feedback procedure on the style guide with ten or so team leaders, and now a key feature has been quietly negated. Not good!

We have the same problem as Karie, for us it is worse, a step backwards

I agree with everyone in what they have said about the search no long respecting label weighting in the search results. We have thousands of users who routinely write documentation and label them to promote search results. The number one complaint we have is that the "search engine sucks". Thus, the users started labeling everything with (at first, personal labels then you took that away) and now labels don't even register with search. I will strongly urge my web team not to adopt this version of Confluence.

I agree with previous comments.

It was a really long and hard work with users to push them using labels, not just only page information. It's very useful for connecting other domains and areas, and it gave possibility to find information quickly by labels. Unfortunately we've already installed latest version, and now we have this problem.

Please, return it back or give some configuration option, that we can return old behaviour back.



Using "labelText:" in search, it's not an option, especially when you search several labels.

I would like to be able to include labels into the standard search. We have many pages where both title and body do not contain all possible search terms. Therefore, adding labels to improve the opportunities to find these pages would be great. For users it is not always clear whether their search term will be in title, body or label. 

Adding a label to content which is too hard to find, is the easiest and quickest way, and it does not change title or body. As many users customers have a different approach on how to use labels, it would be nice to have some impact on the search settings. 

I exactly need the same. 

I just tried this, with and without labelText, and the simple search does not find my page. Others here has already said what I have to say, and it's years later, so I guess that's the way it's going to be, but I still wanted to register my extreme displeasure.

To be fair, Atlassian is correct that the over-labeling of pages by users very often made the search problems worse. But simply turning off the effect of labeling completely is probably not the right solution. The bad labeling of pages is a symptom of the lack of any other means (by users or admins) to influence search results. But without labeling altogether, admins have no dials at all to work with. Filters are great ... but do not solve the ranking problem.

That said, I do like that Atlassian is paying attention to Search. It is the single biggest complaint in our site, and I would imagine, in others'.

This is marked as resolved in 5.3 on the issue tracker, but that isn't the behaviour I'm seeing. I have added "testlabel" to a page in my wiki. But when I search testlabel, I get no result.

Do I need to rebuild the indexes? The dashboard reports that my indexoing queue is up to date.

Did you find a solution here?

Are labels now integrated in the search or not??

Have been for years (you've found a 5 year old thread).  Although I'd totally agree with the "correct" answer, in that the UI for it is weak and the weighting algorithm awful

Try labelText:chocolate in the search bar.

Yeah but it is still not possible to have the label search integrated into the quick search or default search, right?

That is really a shame...

Like Jan likes this

Again, try labelText in the quick search.  Or the CQL functions in the standard search

Just please, Atlassian, put labels search back. Searchability of the content is clearly one of the weakest points of Confluence and pushing users to search using caps sensitive labelText: is not the answer while whole world goes to the other direction (think for instance of address search 10 years ago, filling field by field, and now in gmaps). If it might ruin some users day then just make it global parameter per space or customer. 

Like # people like this

Hey there folks,

seems like this is finally fixed at least in Confluence Server v. 6.14. We just installed the new version and I tried to find a page containing a label which is not used as text on the page. Found it!! 




you can explain to me with an example how you do the search with labels in confluence



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