When I search for a question on Stack Overflow it does not give me even the closest question. But Google is smart enough to trace what I want from my search string (same as what I used on Stack Overflow itself) and gives me a lot of Stack Overflow link for what I actually want.

StackOverflow seriously needs a better search algorithm.

This constraint actually contradicts with one of its principles i.e.

we should search for what we want to ask for, prior to asking.

This naturally put a bad impact when we ask the question which can easily get criticized and even downvoted for being a repetition of a (group of) existing question(s) in that regard.

So should I search for my query in Google or StackOverflow even if I want a solution from Stackoverflow itself?

E.G. If I searched for the following string in meta-StackOverflow and found no close question-

"does downvoting others question decreases reduces the reputation in stackoverflow"

But google gave me this and I could pick this LINK

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    Awaiting reasonable formatting. You need to tone down on the bold, the multiple question marks and caps there! – Martijn Pieters Oct 1 '13 at 15:23
  • Just out of curiosity, what exactly did you search for? – ThisSuitIsBlackNot Oct 1 '13 at 15:27
  • Its worth noting that the duplicates search seems much better than the search bar – Richard Tingle Oct 1 '13 at 15:28
  • Isn't there a faq for how to use the advanced search features? What if SO incorporated a google search bar as well as its custom search bar? – Travis J Oct 1 '13 at 15:29
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    Google. Thousands of employees worldwide. Custom built, highly complex search algorithms as a result of years of research and practice. Main focus of their business. – Dan Hanly Oct 1 '13 at 15:30
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    So should I search for my query in Google? Yes. And use site:stackoverflow.com in your search. – Gert Arnold Oct 1 '13 at 15:36
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    "...even if I want a solution from Stackoverflow itself" # Surely you want a solution, regardless of location? Yes, in this day and age it's likely to come from SO, but it doesn't have to.. – Duncan Jones Oct 1 '13 at 15:43
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    @ThisSuitIsBlackNot Search anything you want . I do not understand rather than accepting a well known fact why go against simple truth , Yes i can say as loud as anyone want in any corner of world , Google Search engine is far -far better than SO search engine. However this again a fact that both have different interests and nature . – user233952 Nov 22 '13 at 11:37

we should search for what we want to ask for, prior to asking.

There's no contradiction here. You should search Google prior to asking if Google is where you get better results. Stack Overflow was designed from the start to be search engine friendly. That's a feature, not a bug.

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    Maybe he should've just Googled why Google is better at search... – Lorem Ipsum Oct 1 '13 at 15:37
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    @yoda Interestingly, my top result for "why is google better at search" is an article about Bing. :) – Bill the Lizard Oct 1 '13 at 15:43

Adding to the existing answers; the SO search engine certainly has its place; I use it when I am looking for site specific details.

For example, I remember that I had read a really great answer on SO once giving a hilarious comparison of accessing C++ pointers to a book in a hotel room, so I search on SO for

is:answer [c++] hotel pointer

and indeed I get the answer I was looking for as first search result.

If you're looking for rather general stuff, I'd still recommend Google.

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  • Does SO search have a place? The top hit on Google for "is:answer [c++] hotel pointer" is also that answer. – blahdiblah Oct 1 '13 at 18:53

one simple answer google is the king of search .. this is from my experience if you have built a site with search capability and the site is really SEO friendly then there are every chance that your site search will not be as good as google search .. this actually happens with my site and it might be happening with SO / MSO for some keywords

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