It started out as me trying to search for the literal string C-c in https://vi.stackexchange.com/ but it ended up omitting the - sign and showing results which contained the strings C/C++ and C & C++.

This is an example of a post which contains that string of characters (yet fails to show up in the results).

Things I've tried:

  1. This post suggests that I can use the undocumented code: operator, but when I do that, it just wraps the whole term in double quotes like this.

  2. As @terdon in Unix & Linux chat has suggested, using this Symbolhound query does yield some relevant results, but it doesn't show me the entry that is supposed to be there. edit: It appears that the Symbolhound query no longer returns that result.

  3. Finally, this post says that you can search for literal characters, but as you can see:

Quoted phrases are exact matches except for case-sensitivity, for example, you can search for code or symbols.

The second example (symbols) leads to 0 results.

So by now I assume that the search engine has changed (but the old documentation still lingers on this site). Is there a method for me to search for strings that include special (or is it literal?) characters?

  • Well, according to this answer it should be possible with quotes. Since it's not, this might be a bug Oct 15, 2015 at 13:44
  • @sha and marked as such Oct 17, 2015 at 5:47
  • One workaround I've found that sometimes works on punctuation, but unfortunately doesn't seem to work for C-c, is to use google's search engine at google.com. For example, you can search for ||: and find an appropriate result. Jun 6, 2020 at 18:33
  • 1
    It appears it was broken in April 2022. Dec 16, 2022 at 3:33

1 Answer 1


As it seems now, this isn't possible indeed and since it is documented it can, it seems to be a bug. I have tried all methods described in your post, in the Advanced search tooltip and the Searching topic in the help. Nothing seems to be able to match a minus sign (or any special character).

A last resort might be (at least for now) to use SEDE to get the data you want.

  • Thanks, there's also this query from Symbolhound, and I've edited my original question to reflect that.
    – AppAraat
    Oct 15, 2015 at 12:50
  • -1 as this doesn't answer the question, other to suggest this might be a bug. Jun 6, 2020 at 18:34

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