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According to this question there was a mechanism implemented to allow searching within sets of favorite questions, most usefully used when searching through your own favorite list (which for some users can be rather large):

infavorite:mine [searchterm]

According to the most recent comments on that same question, this feature got "broken" sometime in early 2011. Certainly, in trying to use this functionality myself, it does not appear to be working any more. I'm assuming this happened when the complete search engine was modified, as advertised in this blog post.

A simple enough request: Can we please have our favorite search back?

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It wasn't so much "broken" as it was deprecated. The original Meta post for the new search system was deleted, but to quote it: "infavorites: is...no more, this would be terribly expensive on the back-end and just wasn't used enough to keep it around". I didn't have a long list of favorites myself, but I've heard of others who have found it useful. –  Grace Note Feb 11 '11 at 13:21
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Oh no! This is gone? This was so incredibly useful. Is it feasible to fall back to a LIKE query against SQL Server just for the favorite searches? I'd be happy to sacrifice a bit of quality in the results just for the ability to search in my favorites at all. –  Shabbyrobe Feb 25 '11 at 3:39
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I am making this question a favorite. Hopefully I'll be able to locate it in the future. –  makerofthings7 Aug 19 '12 at 2:12
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This has been fixed. (Ping @Nick Craver). –  Jon Ericson Jan 11 '13 at 18:12
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3 Answers

up vote 11 down vote accepted

This was dropped as infeasible due to performance concerns. When you're inside SQL joining to a table to filter results is a perfectly valid option, and one a relational database is designed to do, and do well.

However, once you leave that RDBMS world (as we've done with the search overhaul - search is now handled by Lucene, not SQL/Full Text), joining back to that list of favorites (which varies in length widely) as a list questions to search becomes a much uglier task in terms of performance. Lucene is designed to search based on attributes in the documents it has, rather than a list of post Ids against a known list (which would be quite a large boolean query to run underneath - directly proportional to the number of favorites that user has).

For the users who would want to search in their favorites (the same group likely to have many), that's where it's most difficult to do this efficiently, and what's why the option was removed. That's not to say we won't bring this back, if we can do it in a way that performs well - even with a high number of favorites, we will.

I'm making this for now, it is on my todo though.

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Thanks very much for this reply, Nick, and your detailed reasoning as to why it was removed. I appreciate it. I would still definitely love it see the search of favorites back in one form or another as I do believe it is a very handy feature to have and goes towards the overall mantra of the site - to make quality information accessible and available - especially for those of us who have "bookmarked" many great Q&A's over time. –  CraigTP Feb 20 '11 at 9:42
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You guys didn't remove the 'favorites' tab in the profile page, so that part must not be the bottleneck. I'd be pretty happy if I could just get an entire page of those favorites and do a browser find on the titles. Can't we at least have that? –  Pat Mar 4 '11 at 18:51
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Can't you just query both Lucene and SQL Server, then use C# to return the intersection of those two queries? –  Gabe Mar 22 '11 at 3:24
    
is there any current workaround to this? I.e. What method would you recommend a user to use when he wants to search a string within his favorites? –  user815423426 Mar 30 '11 at 17:02
    
@AmV - Unfortunately, there isn't currently a work-around, it's something we may circle back to when we give favorites more love. –  Nick Craver Mar 30 '11 at 17:04
    
If it is hard on the server side, then why don't you implement a simple filter in the frontend? You do already a query for "mine" favorites. Why does the deferral take sooooo long? Doesn't it have enough user votes? Hint: there are several questions around the subject and all of them have 50+ votes. –  Rajish Nov 6 '12 at 8:30
    
@Rajish - If it was a client-side filter you'd just have a lot of empty search pages in most cases. And the votes for something does make us take a look at it, but they don't make it any more technically feasible to accomplish. –  Nick Craver Nov 6 '12 at 11:22
    
Just to be more clear what I mean by frontend filter is something like scaladoc javascript filter of the hits already queried and downloaded. Here is the idea I'm writing about: scala-lang.org/api/current/index.html#scala.Option - there are two input boxes: writing a string in it filters the list. –  Rajish Nov 6 '12 at 21:46
    
@Rajish - I'm saying the likelihood of matches in your 15-50 results is low, so many would inexplicably see an empty page. –  Nick Craver Nov 6 '12 at 22:25
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This doesn't seem like it should be that hard to accomplish. Just do the Lucene query to get the list of post IDs that match, query the SQL Server for the specified favorite post IDs, and use the intersection of those as the search results.

Based on my zero knowledge of how the system works in real life, I would expect this feature to be trivial to implement with a few lines of LINQ.

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+1 (^_^) –  Awesome Poodles Aug 3 '11 at 8:02
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A new search engine for Stack Exchange (Dec '12) states the infavorites:mine functionality has returned (referenced in this answer as well).

This question already has the tag, but I'm adding this for reference as I didn't find it immediately myself.

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Good catch - but also flag the main post and let mods know to mark it as status-completed –  Emrakul Apr 17 '13 at 8:00
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