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When using a wildcard in combination with a tag (e.g. sql-server*), a trick I learned from Jeff Atwood last year, ignored tags that match the pattern still make it through. For example, since I care very little about SQL Server Compact Edition, one of my ignored tags is sql-server-ce ... yet this question still shows up for me at the above link. I even answered it as a result.

What seems to be happening is the search is applying this logic (pseudo-code, obviously):

questions containing tag LIKE 'sql-server%' OR tag != 'sql-server-ce'

// meaning sql-server-ce still comes through because it matches the first clause

When it should be applying this logic:

questions containing tag LIKE 'sql-server%' AND tag != 'sql-server-ce'

// meaning *both* conditions have to be true

The amusing behavior is, if I am on the tagged results page, and add a new ignored tag, even one that is unrelated (like java), the questions tagged with sql-server-ce, java etc. will disappear from the list (and this is still showing the results of the wildcard search, but suddenly questions with ignored tags are gone). If I refresh, they come back. So it looks like the proper logic is applied only as a result of adding or removing a favorite or ignored tag.

(I tried adding an ignored tag that also used a wildcard, sql-server-ce*, but it behaved identically.)

I expect the ignored tags to be a bit more permanent than only immediately after making a change to ignored or favorite tags. Is there another way to retrieve all tags matching a pattern and not matching another pattern? Is this behavior by design, or is there a bug report that didn't show up in my search, or am I really the first person to notice and/or complain about this?


Just to clarify, when I say "shows up" I mean "does not appear faded" as it should when the ignored class is applied. I happen to have my prefs set to hide ignored questions, but I now realize many may just have the option set to fade them. I apologize for any confusion this causes - hopefully it is clear that the problem lies within the consistent application of the ignored class.


Here is a prime example of what I am talking about.

enter image description here

If a question has only one tag that matches both a favorite and an ignored, the ignored should win - especially if it is an explicit subset of the favorite.

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I'm confused, aren't ignored tags just supposed to get faded? I'm not aware of any feature that actually hides them other than the - operator for search. – animuson Jul 3 '12 at 19:55
Nevermind, I forgot they had the "hide ignored tags" option in the preferences. So yours get hidden, mine only get faded. The behavior is the same, though. – animuson Jul 3 '12 at 20:06
I don't understand why topics one is not interested in have to be specifically ignored. Why isn't the content presented solely based on the tags one has specified as 'favorites'? This would obviate the need for clever hack-arounds. – 1202 Program Alarm Jul 17 '12 at 1:32
@skinnyTOD because I am interested in about 60 tags that start with sql-server* but not the three or four tags that start with sql-server-ce*. So when I search for questions tagged sql-server*, I get a lot of questions I'm interested in, but there are always a few that I'm not, and it's cumbersome to manually parse the tags instead of relying on question title alone (and the fact that I filtered on favorite tags). I don't feel like manually adding 60 tags as favorites, and I think it's reasonable to expect favorites + ignored to act as AND instead of OR. – Aaron Bertrand Jul 17 '12 at 1:35
@AaronBertrand: so you were speaking about search? - my misreading. I was speaking about the main SO page. How about having to "ignore" this many tags just to view the content that is of interest without endless paging and scrolling:… – 1202 Program Alarm Jul 17 '12 at 1:39
@skinnyTOD yes, I have a favorite tag called sql-server* and this lands me at*. Which I've also bookmarked. Since I've ignored sql-server-ce, I don't expect those questions to show up, but they do. – Aaron Bertrand Jul 17 '12 at 1:41
up vote 3 down vote accepted

Wildcard tags are correctly ignored now, so marking as complete.

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