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There's a question: Show all of my question/answers to me even if they are deleted/closed

I happened to (inadvertently) ask a duplicate of it: How can I find my own deleted answers?

My bug report is that the SO search is failing me. I realize search is non-trivial, but I'm still having trouble finding the duplicate question even now that I know it exists.

Here are some searches I tried before (and after) to find the duplicate question:

A literal cut/paste of the title does result in a match for the question (first result!), but if you look at what is actually being searched for, you see the terms Show questionanswers even deletedclosed. Apparently the / is removed.

Which leads me to the two terms that actually resulted in the match: show even.

Again, I understand search is hard, but some ideas popped to mind:

  • perhaps some more weight could be added to matches in titles.
  • Perhaps the search box could replace / with a space instead of concatenating the two terms.
  • Perhaps searches could include pluralized/singularized words, and different conjugations of verbs (close/closed).

Continuing to play with the search terms:

Sure, auto-conversion is handy, but in this case (and I'm guessing many others - not on meta), it makes it very difficult to actually find this question.

So I didn't notice the tag conversion before, which is probably what caused my initial queries to fail, still

  • deleted answer -> the duplicate doesn't show up in the first 30 questions (only matched the word 'deleted'

Anyway, just some frustrations with the search lately and this one stood out the most. These appear to be related questions, though I think this question is oriented at finding duplicate questions, which is different than the general "find my search terms"

Related: - How do I make search return results that actually contain all the search terms?, - Match all terms search feature - Automatic question title search fail

How do I make search return results that actually contain all the search terms?

(I'm really hoping I didn't miss the duplicate for this, perhaps I'm just bad at using search).

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I'm afraid that a question about the effectiveness (or otherwise) of the SO search in finding duplicates is a duplicate itself. (I just haven't found it yet) –  ChrisF Dec 4 '09 at 22:24

2 Answers 2

The solution to the answer / answers thing is stemming (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stemming)

However in this case this isn't the problem, the problem is that the search term "answers" is getting turned into a filter on that tag, but the post you are searching for doesn't have that tag.

If you look at the search results for "Answers Deleted" you can see that there are less than 50 hits, whereas a search for "Answer Deleted" gives around 500 hits.

My conclusion - having the search automatically convert matching tags into filters a bad idea.

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Two possible solutions:

  1. Go to the advanced search page and use Google or Bing from there:

    http://meta.stackoverflow.com/search

    How did I get to this page? enter a blank search, or click the "Want better search results? See our tips!" link on the sidebar of every search result page.

  2. We can possibly adjust the threshold of automatically converting search words to tags. We do this because users have a bad, bad habit of entering extremely common words in as "search terms" on SO -- like c# and java for example.

EDIT: I made this a per-site threshold. So on meta, only the top 10 tags are auto-mapped, so the top 50, su/sf top 20.

You should be warned, however, that "answers" is the #15 tag on meta.

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