Is Facebook's Search function useless?

I met the CEO of Telligent Systems, Rob Howard in Barcelona. Telligent are the company who make Community Server amongst other things.

Rob and I had a great chat and decided to hook up on Facebook. It turned out to be a lot easier to meet in person then in Facebook! I typed Rob Howard into Facebook search and got back over 500 results! I gave up after paging through 15 of them!

Ok Rob, I said, Raftery is an uncommon name – try searching for that. Rob eventually found my profile on page 21. Over 500 Raftery’s? Who knew!

The Advanced Search in Facebook is no help in this scenario because that is limited to your existing network.

With over 50 million people signed up to Facebook, if you get 500+ results back on every search, is their search function now broken (or at least badly in need of tweaking)?

7 thoughts on “Is Facebook's Search function useless?”

  1. Restrict a search to a particular network?

    Given that Facebook opens data into Google, I suspect you’d get just as many Rafterys in a Google search – it’s just that Google puts you higher up (through PageRank) than Facebook does 😉

  2. I’ve always found the facebook search facility quite powerful and have used it to find quite a few people — but a search for my name is prone to exactly the problem described above. It’s a tough one to call, and solve, as the number of people on there explodes and common names get lost at sea.

    That said, it’s incredibly useful for searching within friends, providing autocomplete-jump-to a friend, or returning friends first in search results for partial queries.

  3. My experience of searching at Facebook has been disastrous. One search may return 500 results; immediately repeating the search is likely to find a completely different set of results, or even occasionally no results at all. A search might come up with say 50 results, except when scrolling thro to the second page of results the number suddenly jumps to 200 results. Searching on a common name might find 500+ results; and then selecting “male” in the filters returns no results. Searching on an unusual name of an existing member didn’t find it 50% of the time. Maybe it’s just that time of the month…

  4. After getting 500+ returns, trying to use the restricted search only looks within your current friends, making it utterly useless to almost everyone. The whole point is to try to find those ‘long lost’ friends which appears to be pretty much useless or needle in haystack at best…

  5. Weed, I have exactly the same results as you. Facebook search drives me absolutely crazy!!! It is the crappest search I’ve ever come across for searching friends who you may meet outside your normal circle.

  6. weed and Sam: I agree *completely.* I hate the facebook search function!!! It is compeletly useless 90% of the time. 1) Sometimes it is just plain broken. IE: type a search.. and for some reason beknownst only to the Good Lord and His angels, it snaps back to my homepage. Frustrating! 2) There is no way to search REGIONALLY!!! Grr! Why is this? Is this evil? Am I evil for wanting to search for a friend based on regionality, Facebook nerds?? 3) Facebook search pages show the SAME ENTRIES multiple times, people!!! Hello? This has been a bug for many many months!! Do we need the *same person* to continually appear on infinite subsequent search result pages??!!

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