In the comments on a recent post, Borek brings up an interesting point. Given the rapid expansion of Stack Exchange sites and the inevitable overlap of subject matter, can we make a more consistent approach to intra-site and inter-site searches?
For example, when I search on Stack Overflow, I get what appears to be results from a custom search function:
This gives me results specifically from Stack Overflow and presents them in a UI consistent with Stack Overflow. (Now, as a side note, I often notice that I get better search results by clicking "Ask Question" and entering a question title. I don't know if that's because they use different functionality or if my titles are just better than my search terms, but that's another discussion.)
If I want to search all sites, I go to the main Stack Exchange site and search there:
This gives me a raw set of Google results with the sites narrowed down to Stack Exchange sites.
Why the discrepancy?
- Does the Stack Overflow search also use Google and just dress up the results better?
- Has the Stack Exchange search just not gotten as much UI love?
What I propose is a consistent search experience across the Stack Exchange engines/sites. Keep the search box and its current functionality, but when focusing the search box I would suggest fading in a small set of options just beneath it. Options such as:
- Search Just This Site
- Search All Stack Exchange Sites
- Search The Web
Keep it simple, of course. We don't need too many options. But something as easy as a little list of radio buttons (defaulting to "Search Just This Site") would at least give a quick option to find more information that happens to be on other Stack Exchange sites.
Indeed, new users who stumble across Stack Overflow via their own Googling endeavors may not even realize that there are more sites like it with useful information. This could help them discover those sites.