When most people search the site, they're looking for a question that matches their keywords, not an answer that matches their keywords. And typically, you do not expect to see multiple search results that go to the exact same page.

Users that are not familiar with the site are unlikely to realize that they need to type "is:question" in the search box to get rid of "duplicate" results, or to filter only for questions related to theirs, which results in the Search box being not as useful as it could be.

Personally, I am getting annoyed with having to type "is:question" on every single search query I perform on a SE site, and am tired of finding "duplicate" and unrelated results in my SE searches, only to realize I've forgotten to type "is:question" in the search box yet again.

Can we automatically append "is:question" to searches done from the Search box in the upper-right corner of the screen when no is: keyword is specified?

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This would not change the actual search functionality at all, however it would make the searches return better results in most cases instead of only returning better results in a few cases, and it would reduce the annoyance caused by having to remember to type "is:question" all the time.

  • 5
    Depends. How many of us want to default to is:answer instead? ;) Mar 28 '13 at 16:53
  • 1
    If we're going to do this, we might as well change the is: flag to behave so that is:question+answer gives you questions and answers, while no is flag gives you just questions.
    – user200500
    Mar 28 '13 at 16:54
  • @FrédéricHamidi I don't know, make SE tell us :) Personally I have never used is:answer except when searching my own profile for an answer I posted.
    – Rachel
    Mar 28 '13 at 16:54
  • 1
    @Asad Too much typing :) I like the fact I can specify is:question or is:answer and would not want to change that functionality. However the majority of searchers are looking for questions that match their keywords, and not answers that match their keywords, so it makes sense to default the search to what the majority uses.
    – Rachel
    Mar 28 '13 at 16:59
  • @Rachel You've misunderstood. The is:question or is:answer functionality doesn't change. All that changes is that the default behavior (in the absence of is:) is questions only, and getting mixed results requires is:question+answer
    – user200500
    Mar 28 '13 at 17:00
  • @Asad I would think the more logical choice to search both questions and answers would be to remove is:question from the search query, or attempt "(is:question OR is:answer)". My feature-request is intentionally not to change the default behavior that occurs when is: is not specified, although I definitely wouldn't mind it :)
    – Rachel
    Mar 28 '13 at 17:03
  • Adding "show only questions" and/or "show only answers" links which just reload the page with the extra parameter would be less unexpected in this new elasticsearch world
    – random
    Mar 29 '13 at 20:05
  • 1
    Just curious, what's your basis for the statement "When most people search the site, they're looking for a question that matches their keywords, not an answer that matches their keywords"? Do you have some data that supports this claim? Mar 29 '13 at 23:23
  • 2
    Well, every time I use the search box, I want it to return only questions. Is that not enough? I mean, what level of rep do we have to have before the site gets optimized specifically for us? Shall we ask Jon Skeet what his preference is?
    – Cody Gray
    Mar 29 '13 at 23:39

I don't support this request.

If you're going to append is:question like that, you might as well change the placeholder of the search box to "Search questions" or, better yet, "Search question posts".

By the way, "most people" does not mean all people; some really do expect the result to appear in all posts. A usability test may be needed for this.

Moreover, with your change, search results won't include questions whose query appears only in the answers, which some people may consider relevant. (Though I admit that search results where the query appears in the question post and/or one or more of its answers should be combined in the results somehow.)

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