Perhaps my expectation is incorrect, but the search tips page makes it seem as if searching for a phrase delimited by quotes will return results that match the exact phrase only.

(Again perhaps this is just a matter of bad expectations, probably set by the way Google would treat this input, because reading the search tips page for a second time I noticed that it doesn't state that it will search for the exact phrase only).

For example, I'm interested in checking to see if there are any SO posts on the Apache library "commons-chain", so I search for a few of these variations:

  • [java] commons-chain
  • [java] "commons-chain"
  • "commons-chain"`

With each of the search terms, it seems as if articles are returned not because they match the exact phrase "commons-chain" but because they match either "commons" or "chain".

Perhaps the presence of the hyphen in the URL to the search is throwing things off?

Google shows the exact type of search results I would expect for search terms like this.

Again, not sure if this truly counts as a bug since it could just be incorrect expectations on my part - but if this is not the designed behavior, I would certainly vote for a feature change to make this the designed behavior when searching with quotes.

  • 1
    Google is still often the best way to search SO/SU/SF.
    – EBGreen
    Aug 10, 2009 at 20:41
  • "This could be SU" == should be on superuser? But it's a question about how the search functionality works / is intended to work
    – matt b
    Aug 10, 2009 at 20:41
  • I feel like I've said something like this before, but you have to encode the " as %22. Aug 10, 2009 at 20:46
  • It seems like it still doesn't work - shouldn't status-complete tag be removed? Apr 7, 2012 at 11:55

2 Answers 2


Try now:


This was an issue with FREETEXTTABLE (loose match) versus CONTAINSTABLE (exact match). If we detect a quoted phrase in the search, we now switch to CONTAINSTABLE.

  • Thanks for addressing ths Jeff!
    – matt b
    Sep 14, 2009 at 13:05
  • 4
    Did this somehow break again? The search for phrases seems to be loose to me...
    – brunnerh
    Jul 23, 2011 at 2:06

This still seems broken. I just searched on SO for "get operation", and the first hit was checking, operation successful after any LinqToSql operation. It does not contain the phrase.

The closest it comes to matching is in a comment:

You would get an exception related to the update operation failure.

  • that is odd, and I can't repro that with other quoted phrases. I am guessing get is dropped as a noise word? Mar 5, 2010 at 23:14
  • yep, searching for "operation" and "get operation" (with the quotes) produces identical results. The SQL Server full text engine doesn't like the word "get". Mar 5, 2010 at 23:21
  • Someone please tell the SQL Server full text engine to talk to the TFS group about their error messages. :-) Mar 6, 2010 at 1:11
  • The search "alternatives to make" (in quotes) also fails the same way: lots of posts containing "alternatives" but not "make", and then finally about 20 posts down there is one titled "Promising alternatives to make". Sep 21, 2010 at 6:36
  • The search "choices are" also does not work. Nov 1, 2011 at 18:50

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