When I search Stack Overflow, I usually do it with Google's site:stackoverflow.com flag.

If I only do basic search, how would you say Stack Overflow's inner search engine compares to the site-specific Google search?

  • Someone will have to confirm this, but I think the SO search only looks at body of posts, not comments. Google probably catches comments too, for better or worse.
    – JNK
    Sep 23, 2011 at 16:05
  • make sure you're aware of the advanced search options at stackoverflow.com/search Sep 24, 2011 at 21:36

3 Answers 3


SO's search has a lot of limitations, which I won't go into here.

A standard Google search (as has been previously mentioned) searches everything, but it's easy enough to tell Google to not do that. Here's the query:

 yourKeywords site:stackoverflow.com/questions -inurl:tagged -inurl:meta

So if you wanted to search stackoverflow.com for unicorns, you just need to look for:

 unicorns site:stackoverflow.com/questions -inurl:tagged -inurl:meta

Try it yourself!

  • what's the point of -inurl:meta? it's already scoped to a specific domain via site: Sep 24, 2011 at 21:37
  • 1
    @Jeff - When you search the stackoverflow.com domain, by default, you also get meta.stackoverflow.com questions. The good news is that it makes SE2.0 network-wide searches really easy: just swap in stackexchange.com/questions.
    – Dori
    Sep 24, 2011 at 22:54
  • @Dori Would using www.stackoverflow.com restrict it to the main site? Sep 11, 2012 at 14:53
  • Those sub-domains (that's what they're called right?) like the plus in plus.google.com are dedicated servers for that part of the site, yeah? So does www. mean that only the 'general' or 'main' serves get to handle the data? Sep 11, 2012 at 14:55
  • Why was www. ever required? Isn't http://stackoverflow.com enough? What's the point of it? The http (that's the scheme, right?) specifies the protocol... Sep 11, 2012 at 14:56

I find it difficult to find questions/answers I know I've seen before using the SO search unless I remember exactly a unique phrase that I can search in quotes "like so". The ordering of results is bad without this, I usually see unrelated or tangentially related results first. I mostly search on Android Enthusiasts, though, so things could be better on SO.

Perhaps it's because I have years of experience getting Google to spit out what I want, but I don't have the same issue with Google. If my first attempt at search doesn't have what I need in the first few results (rarely), my second or third search does. Not so with the search here.


When you do the google search it seems to search EVERYWHERE on SO.

That includes -

  • Questions
  • Answers
  • Comments
  • Tags
  • User pages
  • The List goes on and on...

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