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Would be awesome to suggest questions to the user as the user enters their search terms in the search field.

I think the technology behind suggesting questions based on a question title can/should be re-used. I've found that entering a question title and looking through suggested questions is often a more efficient search method than typing search terms in the search box.

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2 Answers 2

You're right that the results vary -- quite a bit, actually, not just the order. One of the top suggestions for a test I just did wasn't even on the first page of search results.

I've found that the "related questions" sidebar after posting a question is usually pretty lousy, as well. Perhaps this could take advantage of the suggestion algorithm as well, assuming it does not already.


Interesting suggestion ... but doesn't suggested questions go by the content of the question you're typing, as well? If it were just the title, wouldn't they give the exact same results? (I'm assuming they're just doing a search behind the scenes.)

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No, after you enter the title and tab to the content box is when it currently shows the suggested questions. –  Lance Roberts Aug 10 '11 at 20:38
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Seems like suggested question are based solely on the title of the question. Verify this by entering the title for a new question, tab or change focus to the question field, see the suggested questions appear, enter all sorts of keywords into the question field and the suggested questions don't change. Changing the title does cause the suggested questions to change. –  SundayMonday Aug 10 '11 at 20:40
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Good point about the related questions in the sidebar! –  SundayMonday Aug 10 '11 at 20:49

It sounds like you're asking for "Google Instant" functionality on StackOverflow.

I think it may be cool, but considering the nature of StackOverflow, users may use advanced search syntax which might confuse the results as the user types. If I search for user:me is:answer, how would the advanced syntax play out?

Also consider the number of server requests that will happen vs the number of wasted requests. If I search for "XMLHTTPRequest", then the first three "pings" back to the server are wasted because my fourth character drastically changes the meaning of my search. Going back to advanced syntax, the problem becomes even more exacerbated.

In the general context of Google this works. In a specialized site where many searches are likely to use advanced search modifiers, I don't think it's as simple. I reluctantly (and politely) say no.

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Good point about the advanced search syntax. Seems like the wasted pings problem could be partially mitigated on the client... don't ask the server for suggestions until a word has been "complete" (followed by whitespace) for a certain amount of time. Perhaps the advanced search syntax could just be ignored by the search box? –  SundayMonday Nov 8 '11 at 22:52

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