Meta Stack Exchange is where users like you discuss bugs, features, and support issues that affect the software powering all 158 Stack Exchange communities.

What is meta?
Here's how it works:
  1. Any Stack Exchange user can ask a question
  2. The community provides support, votes on ideas, and reports bugs
  3. Your voice helps shape the way Stack Exchange operates

Why are the instant question recommendations that appear when asking a question so much better/faster than the results from performing an actual query in the search field?

I understand that I can use quotes and tags to improve my search results. But if I simply type in "Detecting the end of a for loop in php" it returns "0 results". If, as recommended, I wrap the query in quotes I get "0 results". Let's simplify the query then and ask "for loop php", "0 Results". If I perform the same query in quotation marks with the tag [php] I start to get results, but not very good ones. This being a pretty vague query it returns vague results. In contrast if I click 'Ask Question' and start typing my query "Detecting the end of a for loop php.." I get instant, precise results.

Now I know that next to the query results you can click 'Advanced Search Tips' which gives you things like is:question and is:answer...but what does this mean? Do I prepend my question with "is:" or "is:question", both, either/or? SO offers things like tags and other various elements to assist in queries, but I will get a far more precise results if I simply click 'Ask Question' and start typing my question. Why isn't this query power available in the standard search field? Is it and am I simply not using it correctly?

How do YOU search on Stack Overflow? Please help me and the community become better Stack Overflow users. While I feel like this is a total noob question, I bet other people have experienced it as well so perhaps it's worthy of documentation.

share|improve this question
Seems like a recent change to the search may have affected the results here – random Feb 27 '13 at 0:51

This was a bug with our query parsing before the handoff to the lucene layer - it's now fixed in a build that just rolled out.

You'll now see there are 92 results for the query Detecting the end of a for loop in php.

share|improve this answer

I search using Google, which has always been and will probably always be the primary search mechanism for Stack Overflow.

share|improve this answer
I always use google with the sites: function to do research as google is so damn good at it! – Hugo Dozois Feb 27 '13 at 0:45
@HugoDozois In my experience Stack Overflow has done such a good job with their SEO that I don't need to use site:. On the occasions when an answer on another site outranks SO there's usually a good reason (though sometimes SO scrapers do sneak up there). – blahdiblah Feb 27 '13 at 0:47
Yeah well for SO I must say I do agree but I was talking generally, for all the sites! And since I'm on a phone keyboard, I forgot to type it – Hugo Dozois Feb 27 '13 at 1:09

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .