There was a discussion about a question that was heavily downvoted on SO, presumably also because it didn't show any visible research effort.

However, when trying to replicate the research effort so I could berate the OP, I found SO's search doesn't work for this particular question. (Neither does Google's, but that's a different issue.)

The question is about the difference between the != and <> operators in PHP.

There is, of course, a highly upvoted existing question:

What is the difference between <> and !=

However, a search for

php difference != <>

does not find it!

You have to wrap the <> in quotes for it to work, which is arguably too much to expect from a newbie.

Why is this?

  • 4
    Stemming; the eternal conflict between wanting to search for words without punctuation and code searches. Quoted text is matched against the unstemmed text. Dec 6, 2013 at 17:17
  • 1
    related: meta.stackexchange.com/questions/32879/…
    – Servy
    Dec 6, 2013 at 17:19
  • This can also go the other way: Exact string search not working. Dec 6, 2013 at 17:20
  • Maybe the Searching page needs some extra clarification (although the second bullet does mention how to search for a specific phrase). This does assume people actually go there....
    – rene
    Dec 6, 2013 at 17:34
  • @MartijnPieters: Yes, but there are differences between words with punctuation, and just symbols. Dec 6, 2013 at 18:13
  • @MadaraUchiha: In programming, that is not always true. Plenty of languages attach meaning to ., ? and ! right after words, not to mention quotes, brackets and braces. Dec 6, 2013 at 18:25


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