Throwing this idea out there: should the search bar in the topbar pull results just for the local community site you are currently on (current implementation) or results from across the network?
Many times when I enter a search query in the topbar, because a lot of the content within the topbar is network-wide (not all, but most) I somewhat expect to see network-wide results even though I know that's not what will happen.
If the topbar were to allow for network wide searches, you could achieve this at least two ways:
- A filter option that a user can turn off and on to search the current site or all SE websites.
- Change the search to be network-wide and provide an alternate site-specific search bar.
I'm not crazy about #2 (double-search fields?!?!) and #1 could prove tricky. Still I wanted to see what other user's responses would be this idea.
UPDATE: Some clarification on the goals of this discussion:
- Let's set aside implementation questions for now. If and when Stack Exchange were to ever roll out an idea like this, we have some really smart people here to make sure that if a programmer is looking for "cake php", we don't serve results from Cooking.SE just because it has the word "cake" in the search. User history, current user accounts, and search query origination (where did the user start this search?) could all weight the search results. All that to say: let's not worry too much about implementation right now. I'm more interested in the pros and cons from a user experience perspective (i.e. Would this make your SE experience better or worse? And why?)
- "That's just the way we've done it." (Or some variation of this phrase) — Just because we currently employ one method of solving a problem doesn't mean that it's a) still correct or b) can't be challenged with new goals. Comments like this suffocate discussion because it seems to put people who are in the "keep it the same" camp on a higher ground and any idea must overcome this taller hurdle in order to succeed. All ideas are valid right now. Current implementation should not be assumed the best. It should be assumed the best idea for the team at the time they made the decision. That's it.
- No decisions will be made directly out of this discussion. I'm just gathering opinions for or against an idea.
- Search is an inefficient and, therefore, an under-utilized tool on SE. Let's be honest: most people don't use search on Stack Overflow. They rely on Google. Our traffic shows this. I'm not under any delusion that by potentially exposing network results in the search results it would dramatically increase the user's search use. Would this make search better though?