Phorum Bulletin Board Search Issues

A couple weeks ago I posted about Phorum which is an open source bulletin board script located here. In that post I explained my frustrations with searching, although my experience with Phorum may be skewed  by unfamiliarity since I only search the Sphider search engine forums on occasion.

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Brian Moon from Phorum was nice enough to stop by and comment and inquired about the search terms and results when I experience these problems. I had to admit I could not recollect the specifics, but it just so happens that I experienced the same issues in the last few days and decided to document it. Perhaps it’s a mistake I’m making, or a configuration by the site admins, or a problem with Phorum itself.

I figure this would be a great opportunity to gather some facts, discuss a possible issue, and hopefully figure out what’s wrong, if anything.

My problems with searching a Phorum board have all happened over at the two Sphider forums. For this experiement I will search the Sphider Mods forum.

Next I fill in the keyword phrase sponsored ads and click Search. I selected this keyword phrase for a specific reason and that’s because I already know it exists in this forum in both a post title and body. I figured this would be a good way to test the search functionality.

Here is where I get the “No Results Were Found” page, so I retry the search again twice; once with All Words selected and once with Any Words selected with Search All Forums highlighted for both. I also tried switching the date option for All Dates and got no results for that either.

I get zero results for both inquiries. Now if you follow this link, you will see that the first post in this thread contains the exact phrase I was searching in the title and in the body of the post.

Knowing that there was indeed a post titled sponsored ads, I was able to tweak my search to find it, but this shouldn’t be the norm. I searched the Sphider Mods forum for the term sponsored and it returned three results. The only result from that thread was one post near the very end of the thread that does not even include the word sponsored in the body of the post.

Something definitely seems a bit off here, doesn’t it?


I first came across  the Phorum software one day when I visited the Sphider site to scour the forums for an answer. I don’t remember if Sphider always had this forum software, but it seemed new to me that day, so I think it was a change for them. It looks like they are running the default green install based on the Phorum demo.

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I also had a look around the admin area demo over at OpenSourceCMS. I think this is pretty decent looking software for someone going for the minimalist approach. It’s a nice change to all the phpBB and vBulletin community bulletin boards out there. Although the default doesn’t do much for me, I do like what the folks over at MySQL have done. The DealNews forums were equally impressive when they were up, but apparently things have changed over there since the forum is no longer reachable. Both of these sites are a testament to Phorum’s ability to handle hundreds of thousands (even millions in the DealNews forums archive) of posts which is quite impressive.

I’m not sure if it’s the Phorum software or the configuring the folks at the Sphider site performed, but I do have one major problem  based on my limited personal experience. Searching is just horrible. Whenever I try to find information over at the Sphider forums, I find the results extremely weak (if I get any at all). It’s been so bad that I once tested it by scrolling through pages and pages of posts until I found one that had the same keyword in both the title and the body of the post. I then went back to the forum index and searched for the keyword in the same forum and got zero results. Unfortunately, the only way to find what I need is to manually scan each page of posts, but who really wants to do that?