I have been searching over SO and mistyped my search query. Still I was given with many search results, and I realized that people often mistype it in the same way.

For example, if I search for "charachter", I will still get 163 results. If I will search for "character" instead I will not get some results from the first query.

Is there way to correct all mistyping at once? Or, maybe, we need a tool that automatically correct most often misspelled words.

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    +1 for having a misspelling in your title. – ale Sep 11 '12 at 17:18
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    One potential issue here is breaking code samples. One (bad) practice some people use is when they want to use a variable name that is already in use (or a keyword in that particular language), they will use a misspelled version rather than coming up with a better name. Automatically "fixing" these misspellings could (further) break code in questions/answers. – yoozer8 Sep 11 '12 at 17:20
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    We could, but in reality, all of these have to be reviewed by hand, it may very well be the case that they want the misspelling because it is essential to describing a problem (a bad input, for example). – casperOne Sep 11 '12 at 17:28
  • @casperOne What about the correction of existing ones? "Charachter" at least. – Pavlo Sep 11 '12 at 17:30
  • How do you know that's not being used to describe the problem? You can't just based on the word alone. – casperOne Sep 11 '12 at 17:32
  • @casperOne I don't think that "charachter" is the real word you will ever need (in a title at least). – Pavlo Sep 11 '12 at 17:39
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    @PavloMykhalov Can you guarantee it? If we're at the risk of invalidating one post, then we can't do it. – casperOne Sep 11 '12 at 17:40

I would only be in favor of this if it was done similar to how Google search handles misspellings. Sometimes you want to search on that particular string; auto-correcting it to what the system thinks you meant would reduce usability.

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If you can't understand why it might be bad to do this automatically, consider this:

What if this site had such a thing in place, replacing every time you tried to type "charachter" with the 'real' spelling? You would have had to seek another term to misspell. But what if "charachter" was, for some reason, instrumental and important to your question? (What if it was the name of a code library you were trying to use?)

The point being; there are too many cases (edge cases though they may be) where misspellings are vital to understanding. An automated fix would ruin those silently while, on the other hand, the damage of accidental misspellings is actually somewhat low. Comparatively speaking.

Side-note; I would be willing to bet that 'commonly' misspelled words also tend not to be as important to good searches. "Character" is probably something of an exception there.

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  • What do you mean by "good searches"? – Pavlo Sep 11 '12 at 20:04
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    @PavloMykhalov Searches on highly specific terms, rather than very generic ones. Extreme example: It's worthless to search for the word "the". Every single post of any appreciable length contains that word. "mistyping", on the other hand, would be a "good search" to find this post. Good search terms tend to be less common words. If a word is less common, it won't tend to be 'commonly misspelled'. – Andrew Barber Sep 11 '12 at 20:07

What if we had a script that automatically created a list of suggested corrections to commonly misspelled words? These would be proposed edits owned by Community and could go into the edit queue alongside suggested edits (or it could get its own review queue). We could use this thread to make a list of all the suggested misspellings.

StackOverflow is full of both poor English speakers (not intended as an insult, SO draws people of all languages, English just isn't their first) as well as spelling and grammar Nazis like myself. In this way we could avoid the issue of broken code while also cleaning up the English on SO.

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