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I've looked in the FAQ regarding search, specifically the following part:

  • To search within specific tag(s), enter them in square brackets: [maintenance] seat.
  • To find a specific phrase, enter it in quotes: "flat tire".
  • To ensure that specific words appear in the results, use plus: +frame +steel.
  • To search just your posts: user:me training.

(emphasis mine)

So the plus operator ensures that words appear in the results. If you don't use the plus operator, what does it do? Isn't the point of the search to find all words?

EDIT: This question is no longer significant. As of 2013, StackOverflow uses an AND-based search:

The new elasticsearch-backed search is using an AND operator by default now.

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up vote 6 down vote accepted

The default search behavior is to search for any of the terms, kinda like a giant list of search terms joined together with or. For example, take the following query.

forty-nine twelve

This would search for questions that contained either forty-nine or twelve. Now take the following query.

+forty-nine twelve

This query has to include forty-nine, but it may also contain twelve.

+forty-nine +twelve

The above query has to include both forty-nine and twelve.

NOTE: This means that the more terms you search for, the more results you will get. Also note that the the term terms does not include tags.

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So that means that the more search terms you put in, the more search results you'll get? – wchargin Jun 2 '12 at 20:08
@WChargin Exactly. – user184498 Jun 2 '12 at 20:09

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