If you search for is:answer you will get a list of answers:

Search Results with is:answer

However, if you search for is:answer closed:no then you get a list of questions:

Search Results with is:answer closed:no

Searches tagged is:answer should only return answers.

The is:answer flag should take priority, and anything related to the question should be inherited from the parent question (like using question_id field for answers in the API). This way we could, for instance, search for accepted answers on open questions that have a score of less than 0. This currently returns nothing while removing the question-related closed:no will provide us with what we want.

  • 2
    To play devils advocate by performing this search you've specified that you want only questions and only answers. Why should the answers take priority over the questions? Commented Oct 17, 2013 at 7:12
  • 7
    because the intend was "all answers in all non-closed questions" Commented Oct 17, 2013 at 7:17
  • 4
    @ben, thanks for the advocacy. If I want non-closed questions I can search for is:question closed:no and get the desired results. I can do the same if I just search for closed:true since only questions can be closed/open. Why would I add is:answer if I wanted questions? That makes absolutely no sense, while there are plenty of reasons to want to look at answers to closed questions (which is implied by the type of request).
    – jmac
    Commented Oct 17, 2013 at 7:19
  • Related: Searching for Accepted Closed Answers Breaks Search. It would seem that is:closed is the culprit here. Since there are so heavily related, maybe one need to be a dup of the other so we don't have 2 posts on search problems with is:closed? Commented Oct 17, 2013 at 9:21
  • @psu that's a bug report related to inconsistent behavior with the isaccepted flag with a question-only flag. It is quite a bit different from this request which goes beyond just fixing the bug and moves to actually allowing people to search like they would expect.
    – jmac
    Commented Oct 17, 2013 at 10:08
  • @jmac yeah, you are right, sorry, I just read both questions and saw the relation. I hadn't read the comment chain on the other question until after I made that comment. Commented Oct 17, 2013 at 13:48
  • @jmac Why did you roolback my edit?
    – user215114
    Commented Oct 21, 2013 at 19:29
  • @gparyani, if you read the comments, this is separate from the (related) bug report I filed. This is requesting an improvement. Why are you unhappy about the rollback?
    – jmac
    Commented Oct 21, 2013 at 21:54
  • @jmac I was just confused, because normally if an edit is incorrect, it gets rejected. But in this case, it was approved and then rolled back.
    – user215114
    Commented Oct 21, 2013 at 21:58
  • Someone else approved it while I was sleeping. I woke up and rolled it back @gpar
    – jmac
    Commented Oct 21, 2013 at 22:00

1 Answer 1


I think you've come up with a solution without having the correct problem defined, so you're coming at it from the wrong direction and would likely end up with something that doesn't actually meet the requirement you though it would.

What it appears you're actually after is for a way to search for answers to open questions.

I would make a suggestion that one way to achieve this is for some advanced search options like the following:

Show questions [] Show answers [✓] show closed posts [] show open posts [✓]

We'd probably want all boxes ticked by default, as that way everything is included in the results. This way you don't even have to faff around with the correct syntax, you just enter your query and choose if you only want answers or only want questions

(I am aware that if we start down this route then the advanced search could end up with hundreds of options in there, but it's a different option for discussion I think).

  • 4
    Jon, would you mind explaining what the proper definition of the problem is? You seem to be advocating switching text-based switches to checkbox-based switches without actually changing any behavior. How is is:answer any different from a check box with the same behavior? Or closed:yes any different from a check box for that? The issue here is not the text-based switches, but rather that the switches don't operate as one would assume they do. Hence the feature-request to change the way they work.
    – jmac
    Commented Oct 18, 2013 at 0:03

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