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Search API is a popular, powerful, difficult module to work with. It's a module with its own ecosystem of specialist niches, from facets to its integration with the labyrinthine Solr/Lucene project, plus 30-40 other supporting contrib modules, and it's use of the contrib Entity API is very advanced.

Probably because of this, I've found that it's particularly hard to get answers to Search API questions on Drupal Answers. Look at this question: it had a 100 rep bounty for a week, with me adding daily (sometimes twice daily) updates whenever I found any new clue or potentially useful information, and it got nothing except 4 people following it, presumably also hoping to see answers. (there was one answer, since deleted: it was someone linking to their own similar question on StackOverflow, which had also received no answers). I believe I got another tumbleweed badge for it before I added the bounty.

Another reason it's difficult is, Search API is maintained by just one guy. Non-critical issues on the issue queue rarely get responses. Here's a not untypical Search API issue thread I happened to be looking at today for other reasons.

I've now got another non-trivial Search API question, and I'm getting deja vu. Even with the currently active 150 rep bounty it could still go tumbleweed, and could easily go 7 days with no answers.

I've used stackexchange for a long time, and I'm sure it's a pretty well-written, answerable question. I'm doing everything I can think of to improve the chances of getting an answer:

  • posting on here alongside the official support issue queue
  • offering a generous bounty at the first opportunity
  • editting to improve the question any time I get new info or think of a clearer way to express the question
  • phrasing the question in a realistic, "I'm hoping for X but I'd settle for Y" way, to encourage incomplete but potentially helpful answers

Is there anything more I can do? Is it allowed (or even possible) to ping users who follow the Search API tag, for example? I've tried thinking of a way to generalise the question to not be specific to Drupal to ask on StackOveflow ("How to integrate a platform with these behaviours ... with stemming in Solr?"), but the Drupal-specific part is the crucial part. Are there any ways to increase the chances of someone with specialist Search API knowledge seeing it?

Or anything else I could be doing?


Search API is a bit of an extreme case, but I imagine answers to this might also be applicable to people hunting for answers to any other difficult topics.

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The problem you are facing is that to answer questions like these you need to be a Drupal export and a Solr expert. Finding some one who is experts in both of these fields is not easy to begin with.

The problem you are facing is that we don't have many (or any) cable of answering these questions, atleast not with ease. I know I wont spend 1 or 2 hours to see if I can figure out an answer for some question, and I think many people are like that. If it requires a huge effort (research, testing, coding, tweaking) to answer a question, not many will answer it.

So in short, the only way to get questions answered, is to attract experts who has the skill/knowledge to answer who actually wants to do so.

  • Well said, I was just typing out an essay practically but this sums it up very nicely – Clive Jan 4 '13 at 9:40
  • Do you have any suggestions about how to attract such experts? e.g. I suggested in my question pinging people who follow the search API tags, but then learned in my comment that you and I are the only two of the top 3 search API answerers actually answering questions on search API. Any ideas on how to reach this niche of people who might have implemented solr stemming in drupal before would be very welcome. – user56reinstatemonica8 Jan 4 '13 at 9:50
  • Maybe posting advertising the bounty on the search API drupal group? Would that be considered okay or frowned on as cross posting? groups.drupal.org/taxonomy/term/17038 – user56reinstatemonica8 Jan 4 '13 at 9:53
  • @user568458 I can't see any problem with trying to drum up support for your question on Drupal groups from a Stack Exchange point of view. It'd be best to steer clear of reproducing the entire question over there (what constitutes 'off-topic' here gets a bit murky in that situation), but I can't see any problem with you promoting your question to a different group of people. In fact I'd go so far as to encourage it, the more eyes we get on DA the better :) – Clive Jan 4 '13 at 12:17
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Apart from sharing the link to the question on specific contexts, I don't see what else could be done.

As you said, questions about the Search API module really involves more modules, including the Apache Solr Search Integration module, and the Views module. This means that who answers should know enough about more than one module, and (in particular) about the integration between those modules.

Offering a bounty can help, but it's not a reason enough for somebody to install the required modules (if they are not already installed), and find a solution for the problem. If it happens that somebody tried to achieve the same result, then the question gets an answer. Otherwise, I find difficult somebody would answer a question involving more than one module.

  • I certainly wouldn't expect someone to set up a Solr server just to answer my question, even for the 150 bounty. But anyone who's successfully set up Search API Solr with stemming would probably have encountered this issue and would just know what works. There will be some such people, I'm hoping for ideas on how to boost the chances of them seeing my question. – user56reinstatemonica8 Jan 4 '13 at 14:57
  • I didn't mean you were expecting somebody setups a Solr server just to answer your question. I just said that who can answer some of the Search API questions (I was not referring just to yours) is restricted to a group of people, who could use Drupal Answers in a very limited way. In the past, I installed some modules in my test site just to be able to answer some of the questions I found on Drupal Answers; I didn't do that when the modules to install were 3, and finding the answer would take too much time. For example, I will never install Drupal Commerce just to be able to answer a question. – kiamlaluno Jan 4 '13 at 15:09
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I'm going to fill this answer with any potentially useful sources of Search API and/or Drupal-Solr integration support I find. I'll edit in comments about how useful they are as appropriate.

  • Solr office hours. Recently (late 2012), several key figures in Drupal / Solr integration, including Search API's lone maintainer, started doing "office hours" in #drupal-apachesolr on freenode, every other Wednesday, 16:00 - 17:00 UTC. Announcement on drupal.org.
  • There's a Drupal group for Solr integration. It was originally focused on the Apache Solr Search Integration ecosystem rather than the newer Search API ecosystem, but the two seem to be collaborating to some extent these days and it includes some Search API discussion. Like most of Drupal.org, it looks like most posts go unanswered.
  • There's a Drupal group for Search, but it's focused on core search so probably isn't helpful here.
  • It's possible see the "top answerers" for the Drupal.SE Search-API and Search-API-solr tags, but at the moment this just illustrates how difficult it is.

Will add anything else I find. Suggestions are very welcome.

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