I just witnessed an inconsistency that got me puzzled. Please compare the following searches and their results (TL;DR Summary below):


  • List of all questions tagged (possibly more)
  • Ordered by "newest"
  • No large search input field shown

[bug] answers:0:

  • List of all questions tagged only
  • Ordered by "relevance"
  • Large search input field displayed

At first, looking at the URL for each result page, I could see that the one would lead to a search page, and the other to a "tagged" page.
However, I then compared these sites to how the search on other SE Network pages (namely Stack Overflow and Worldbuilding). The results were surprising, see this example off from Stack Overflow:


  • List of all questions tagged (possibly more)
  • Ordered by "newest"
  • Large search input field displayed, that only allows additional tags

[php] answers:0:

  • List of all questions tagged only
  • Ordered by "relevance"
  • Large search input field displayed

And further from Worldbuilding:


  • List of all questions tagged (possibly more)
  • Ordered by "votes"
  • No search input field displayed

[space] answers:0:

  • List of all questions tagged (possibly more)
  • Ordered by "relevance"
  • Large search input field displayed


To make the problem a little bit better to understand, have a look at this table:

| Page |      Search       |  Order by  | Add. Tags | Large search field |
| MSE  | [bug]             | newest     | yes       | no                 |
| SO   | [php]             | newest     | yes       | yes (tags only)    |
| WB   | [space]           | votes      | yes       | no                 |
|      |                   |            |           |                    |
| MSE  | [bug] answers:0   | relevance  | no        | yes                |
| SO   | [php] answers:0   | relevance  | no        | yes                |
| WB   | [space] answers:0 | relevance  | yes       | yes                |

We have different results for all three: votes, order and additional tags where I personally found the tag only search field the most confusing, and the silent exclusion of questions with more tags the most dangerous. Is this intended behavior? If yes - why so? Why do the tagged and search pages work differently across the network?


Okay, I don't think this is a bug. Let's talk about the anomalies in your list.

  • Searching the tag on Stack Overflow yield a tag search bar because Stack Overflow has a new navigation design, which is only active on Stack Overflow at the moment.

  • When I search the tag on World Building it sorts on newest. Probably you have changed your sorting order yourself here.

  • Searching with answers:0 on all sites yield results with other tags, although on page one of the results on SO and MSE you see indeed some questions with the searched tag only. On WB, there are just no questions with the tag only.

  • 1
    I had another look into this after reading your answer, and you are right. It seems that the search stores the last selected tab in a cookie or whatever, so the last option you selected will be opened every time you search. I knew about the new nav but found the tag search behavior confusing anyway. And as for the tagging - I tried some other tags and had a little look through the different pages and your answer is correct. Sorting by relevance simply seems to prefer posts with the searched tag only which somehow makes sense. Thank you for clarifying! – T3 H40 Feb 24 '17 at 9:25

Thanks to Patrick Hofmann answer, I understood the search functionality a lot better. I wanted to post what I found out, in case someone else gets confused some time:

Searching for tags only:

Tag searches will lead to the "tagged" page, which will list all questions with at least the given tag(s). This page will be ordered in whatever order you had selected the last time you were on the tagged page for this particular network.

In addition, Stack Overflow provides a tag search input, that came with the new navigation - which is currently Stack Overflow exclusive. This input allows tags only (though there are controls for advanced filtering or ordering on each side of the field)

Advanced search:

Adding advanced search terms like answers:0 or hasAccepted:yes will direct the search to a dedicated search page, instead of the "tagged" page (Full list of commands can be found right hand side). Being what it is (a search page), the page provides a large input for search terms.

If the order of search results is set to "relevance", posts that do not contain tags additional to the search will be preferred.

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