There's a question in the PHP tag, How to squeeze error message out of PDO?

I've been using this question as a dupe-target and a general reference link for ages. (It's got so many incoming links, it breaks the "linked" display!)

Before the new search came up, I could search for it using php squeeze pdo, where:

  • squeeze is only in the title
  • php is both in the question text, and is a tag
  • pdo is both in the title, the question text, and is a tag

In the new search, that question is no longer part of the search results at all any more! All I see in the results is pages containing the reference question's title because they link to it. Manually searching for the tag, [php] squeeze pdo, still finds it fine.

I'm not sure what's going on here - the fact that it's completely missing looks like a bug?

Either way, I guess this suggests that search terms in the title should be given a lot more weight, and that search terms inside a link to another question should be given a lot less weight... although the latter is probably Google-level stuff and overkill.

  • 11
    Maybe the number of incoming links/duplicate questions should also factor in the ranking of search results. This would be pretty much reinventing Google Page Rank, but maybe that is already a possible feature for the search backend. Commented Jan 28, 2013 at 11:49
  • 3
    I've definitely noticed this on MSO where the FAQ entry for X will show up below a billion 0 voted "How do I X" posts
    – Zelda
    Commented Feb 3, 2013 at 17:39
  • 3
    Oddly enough, it's the PHP that's tripping the search up. Converting it to tag syntax or substituting in "message" works as expected. I think Nick mentioned somewhere about there being an issue crossing the title/body boundary, hmm.
    – Tim Stone
    Commented Feb 3, 2013 at 17:39
  • 1
    Yeah, the and operation not traversing the title/body combination is the problem.
    – Tim Stone
    Commented Feb 3, 2013 at 17:41

2 Answers 2


A search algorithm change went out this evening that should resolve cases like this based on which fields the terms were in. The way we structure the query has changed to properly AND across all appropriate fields for this search.

This should improve searches for thousands of other cases as well. If you find further examples that are obviously broken, of course keep us alerted so we can continue improving search.

  • Works great as far as I can see, thanks!
    – Pekka
    Commented Feb 26, 2013 at 9:52
  • a new one, searching for "UTF-8 all the way through" no longer gives me UTF-8 all the way through
    – Pekka
    Commented Feb 26, 2013 at 19:59
  • 1
    @Pekka웃 - damn, that's a larger issue. I'm taking another pass at query construction - may be a day or so before something goes out, tricky change. Commented Feb 26, 2013 at 23:21
  • 2
    @Pekka웃 - give it a try now - I altered the stemming parser in a slight way that I hope caused no other regressions, it should be better for almost all cases. Commented Feb 27, 2013 at 1:39
  • looking good, I tried a series of combinations and they all worked out. One other thing: When you search for, say, Why is processing a sorted array faster than an unsorted arra, it will turn up 0 results even if a question exists that is titled Why is processing a sorted array faster than an unsorted array. It would be nice if it would treat the one non-matching word as "or". But I guess that is a whole different ball game, it's arguably much more minor, and I think that has always been the standard behaviour
    – Pekka
    Commented Feb 27, 2013 at 11:25

Seems like after the change in search algorithm, the weight of keywords have changed.

If you remove the php (searching just for squeeze pdo) you instantly get the correct result.

The best advice I can give you, stay away from obvious and incredibly common keywords.

  • 6
    It doesn't seem like the weight has changed, it seems like that keyword excludes the result from search entirely - which doesn't make sense. I'd say this is a bug, it needs fixing rather than us changing the way we use search
    – Pekka
    Commented Feb 9, 2013 at 19:13
  • 3
    [php] squeeze pdo also works fine
    – user133440
    Commented Feb 17, 2013 at 21:10

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