18 years of searching Nikon
The Nikon search portal NikoScope.com is celebrating 18 years this year. Launched back in 2005 and revamped several time since, the website is serving millions of search requests each year from all over the world. The portal is specialized finding and delivering photography and videography related content, much of which is Nikon related, even though the portal is not connected with this leading camera manufacturer in any way.
The six distinct content areas provided are:
- Forum discussions (lots of gear talk, but also anything on photography)
- Images (galleries)
- Articles & Reviews (tips, how-to’s, webinars)
- Photographers (members)
- eZines and magazines (and books)
- Various Nikon-related websites
All search sections are publicly available without registration, except for the Photographers (members) section, requiring signup for a free membership with the Nikonians community, who is also operating the search portal.
Over 1.3 million Nikon-related forum discussions are available through the site and the amount of articles and reviews is substantial as well. NikoScope is able to provide insight on camera gear and equipment in context with photographers using that gear. It is for example possible to engage in discussions with photographers using certain equipment, or using same or similar equipment as you are (aka “gear twins”).
As a team lead for the community I had the chance to launch this site together with a talented team of software and IT engineers in Bratislava (Slovakia) and it was a lot of fun. The site is using Apache Lucene for indexing and as main search engine whereas Apache Nutch is used for crawling content. The indices are updated once a day, so any camera discussions shown in the portal are at the most 24 hours “old”. Not really real-time, but not bad IMO. The indices are stored in large archives on filesystem whereas minor meta data and other “house holding items” are kept in a MariaDB relational database.
Nutch is used for “spidering” (a bot is accessing and retrieving the web pages from) a specific set of hand-picked websites (aka “unstructured data”), the created index is thereafter cleaned-up and presented to the audience via the portal. Structured data is collected as well, specifically forum topics and gallery images. This structured information is presented to the users of the portal in a labelled fashion, e.g. camera models and lenses are shown.
A separate back-end module, a custom made advertising engine is used to show placed (and potentially paid) content that relates to the search queries. The community is not advertisement based so the placed content shown is all related to Nikon gear and education, not stemming from any third parties paying for placement.
There is a wiki help page available in the community detailing the more advanced usage of the portal as well. If you have any questions about the portal, or any input, feel free to post that in the discussion forums of Nikonians.