In the previous post, I introduced Bookmarks in Microsoft Search.
This post is focusing on another feature of Microsoft Search: Q&A. To demonstrate its capabilities, let’s see what happens if a user enters a natural language query to the search box:
What you can see on the screenshot above:
- The query is not a “clean” keyword query. It’s written in natural language, as most users enter their queries: “where is agnes”
- The first hit is a person: Agnes Molnar. This is because the query engine extracted the name from the query (“agnes”) and understood it must be a user.
- Other results are “real” document results.
But what we want to provide real answers to queries like this? – “Where is Agnes” is a common query here at Search Explained, since I travel a lot. My colleagues want to know where on the globe I am, in which time zone, etc. before they drop me an email or message (to know when they can expect a response) or a call (they know I don’t like to be wakened up in the middle of the night 😉 ).
But of course, you might have other common examples in your organization:
- How many vacation days I have left for this year?
- Who are our main customers?
- What are the new HR benefits in 2020?
While some of these can be implemented by creating bookmarks, sometimes we need more. This is where Q&A might be useful.
What is Q&A in Microsoft Search?
“Q&A allows you to answer the user’s question instead of just providing a link to webpage. You can format the answer in rich text using the available tools.” – Microsoft Docs says.
Creating a Q&A is also similar to Bookmarks:
- Go to Office 365 Tenant Administration.
- Click on “Show All…” to expand all settings and configuration options on the left side menu.
- Open Settings / Microsoft Search. (If you need further help getting there, read my previous blog post.)
- Click on Q&A.
- Click on the Add button.
Here you’ll find all the settings of Q&A which are very similar to the Bookmarks settings. Instead of repeating them here, let me show you a few nitty-gritty details I’ve found while working with Q&A in Microsoft Search.
Nitty-Gritty Details of Microsoft Search Q&A
1. For some reason, the “Title” always changes to small capital whenever I open a Q&A again. Change it back, save – then never edit again. Or if you have to, change the letter back to capitals where needed.
2. I cannot make images and formatting (bold, italic, etc.) working on my tenant at all, despite following the official markdown syntax which is linked from the Q&A “Answer Description” field. The image is displayed fine in the Q&A preview while editing, as well as text formatting, etc. – but doesn’t work on the UI at all. Tested in multiple tenants, no luck so far. Probably (hopefully) will be fixed soon.
3. When a Q&A is displayed, the person result is not being displayed anymore (see below).
4. When a Bookmark is displayed, only a small-size Person card is being displayed instead of full details (see below).
5. Microsoft Search Q&A is not “intelligent” in any meaning. You have to define the “questions” as well as the “answers” to make it work. I think it would be great seeing it to be using either Q&A Maker or any other automated/intelligent tools in the future – that could make it a really amazing feature!
I’m confident these bugs/inconsistencies will be fixed over the time, but I believe it’s useful to talk about these as well. Hopefully I can save you from some headaches 😉
Have you found other glitches with Q&A in Microsoft Search (or Bookmarks)? Please don’t hesitate to let me know!
In this series
Next blog posts in this series (the list will be refreshed with the URLs):
- Search Feedback
- PnP Modern Search
- PowerApps as Bookmarks in Microsoft Search
Stay tuned, more to come later as we have more and more options in Microsoft Search.