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From Brian Goetz <>
Subject Re: [Bug 12137] New: - Can '*' or '?' symbol be used as the first character of a search?
Date Fri, 30 Aug 2002 03:18:12 GMT

> From a philosophical point of view, I don't believe in making something 
> really hard just because it may be bad.

Nor do I, in the general case.

>It may also be a requirement and may work out great for certain applications.

And the standard query construction classes, which are designed for use by 
App Developers, not App Users, are there for exactly that case.

>Also, I believe in teaching people through documentation and support. I 
>understand that a developer may try to solve a user's problem and set a 
>parameter that may make things slow, but I also believe that most 
>developers will read about it (at least to find out how to do it and what 
>the different parameters mean).

But the problem is that there are two levels of indirection here -- Lucene 
Developers to App Developers, App Developers to App Users.  We can teach 
our customers -- the App Developers -- through documentation and support, 
but can we teach them to teach?  Can they even do so, given that search 
interfaces are generally exposed on web pages, and web pages don't come 
with documentation?  And those users might not even speak the same language 
as the developer?  Actually, there's also a third level of indirection -- 
app developer -> webmaster -> app user.  What are the chances that any sort 
of disclaimers or documentation will filter to the end of that chain?

>In this documentation can be a BIG DISCLAIMER teaching people about the 
>potential for a really big hit. This may mean that the developer 
>recommends a faster machine, or gives justification for why it may be slow.

Right, but this documentation, if read at all, is extremely unlikely to 
make to the end user.  The end user might be halfway across the world, 
checking out your website for the first time.

Lets not lose sight of the whole point of the query parser -- a safe tool 
for making it easy for uneducated users to execute common forms of queries, 
just like they can at Yahoo or other search engines.

If you want to build a chainsaw-without-a-safety query parser, and call it 
VeryDangerousDontTryThisAtHomeQueryParser, we can discuss that.  But 
putting a "safe/not-quite-so-safe" switch on the parser strikes me as a bad 

We went through this with range queries, too.  My philosophy on the query 
parser is "anything that requires documentation must not belong in it", 
since 99.5% of the users will not only not read the documentation, but not 
realize any exists.

Brian Goetz
Quiotix Corporation           Tel: 650-843-1300            Fax: 650-324-8032

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