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bug#35551: guix search

From: Mark H Weaver
Subject: bug#35551: guix search
Date: Sat, 11 May 2019 14:38:26 -0400
User-agent: Gnus/5.13 (Gnus v5.13) Emacs/26.2 (gnu/linux)

Hi Tobias,

Tobias Geerinckx-Rice <address@hidden> writes:

> Bruno Haible wrote:
>> Mark H Weaver wrote:
>>> If we add functionality that calls out to the network in response
>>> to a
>>> package search, e.g. to query popularity ratings or package file
>>> listings, we should make sure the user knows it's happening, and
>>> provide
>>> a way to disable it.  Some users may not want information about
>>> their
>>> package searches to be leaked to the outside world.
>> Good point.
>> Would it be more acceptable, upon 'guix search', to download an
>> incremental
>> update of a package popularity database, and do the search locally?
>> This
>> way, only the fact that the user has been doing a 'guix search'
>> would be
>> leaked to the outside world, not the search term.
> I don't think Mark intended to present it as a good idea at all… ;-)

I'm not sure what you're suggesting here.  While I have some privacy
concerns, I'm not generally opposed to these ideas.

> Popularity is irrelevant to search relevance.

I agree that ideally, popularity shouldn't be relevant for searches.  If
we could apply sufficient intelligence to understand what the user is
looking for, and sufficient knowledge of our packages to determine which
ones meet those requirements, it would be best to ignore popularity.

However, given the severe limitations of the intelligence we can apply
to this problem, making use of popularity is an easy approach that tends
to work fairly well in practice.

Keep in mind that Google became dominant in the search market largely
because of the success of their PageRank algorithm, which essentially
orders results by popularity, although with greater weight given to the
opinions of those who are themselves popular.  It clearly works well.

What do you think?


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