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I just want to know what the best way is to find previous questions that may answer mine (on Stack Overflow).

I try to search, but I tend to get too many irrelevant results. What's your best method for researching a Stack Overflow topic, before posting a question?

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7 Answers 7

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You can use Google with the site limited to Stack Overflow.

For example: site:http://stackoverflow.com "Python IDE".

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When you type in your new question, watch the suggested topics that come up. Phrase it a few different ways before you're sure that nothing already has you covered.

But, redundancy is OK. Think of it like Google -- if you try a few different sets of search terms and nothing comes up, then there needs to be an entry with those terms. So go ahead and ask the question.

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Now that we're public, you could try googling for your search terms with site:stackoverflow.com on the end.

Google often does a better job than the built-in search - it's their core business after all.

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  1. Search Google

  2. Switch to searching Google Groups if you don't find anything on the web

  • Search Google with:

site:stackoverflow.com searchterm(s)

  • Use Stack Overflow's search and restrict your search to specific tags by enclosing them in square brackets:

searchterm(s) [tag1] [tag2]

  • type just keywords into the Ask Question Title input and press tab to see suggestions
    (currently this will search just the topic titles for those keywords)
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Currently search and browsing by tags are your only option. (How else do you "find" something besides searching?)

If you clarify your question with an example, we might be able to help you use the search better.

If you're looking for more sophisticated filtering, for example a search like

answered:today votes:10+ (asp OR vbscript)

Then you will want to post that feature on stackoverflow.uservoice.com

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  • This answer is completely obsolete. All of it.
    – Laurel
    Jul 3, 2016 at 19:48
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When I can't find something on Google because I either don't know the correct terms to use or the terms are way too broad for an effective search, I jump on irc.freenode.net and join the official chatroom for what ever language/framework I'm having issues with.

The problem with freenode is you are talking to people so you have to be slightly more communicative than when you're talking to a search engine. The great thing about freenode is you are talking to a person that can probably grasp your problem better than a computer could. It's hit or miss on whether you get someone helpful but I've had good results on some of my more bizarre questions.

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When I have a problem (almost always C# .NET related due to my line of work), I usually google search first. Blogs are good, and MSDN can be quite good. Those question/answer sites that make you pay are horrible, newsgroups are pretty bad too.

If that fails, this site can be pretty awesome. If the search and tags fail you, just post, I suppose. Not many other options.

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