I have been the PM on the Enterprise team for almost 2 months now, and we have quite a large product backlog of features and areas to consider.

One of the features that we have prioritized recently and are actively working on, is improving search. When I say search, this is search for all Q&A products - the public site, Enterprise and, in the future, Channels. We are making a conscious effort to share the work that we are doing, functionally across all teams so as to be able to get more value, more quickly, to all of our users.

We have a few different ideas to work on including improving relevancy, indexing by question (so you only see one result for each question page), updating design and more.

One of the enhancements we are working on is search suggestions.

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We turned this on earlier today and some of you may have seen it. We realize it isn’t perfect as yet, but having it live allows us to get data on the kind of suggestions Elastic makes, so that we can then improve on it. We also know that currently some suggestions lead to no results and we are working on suppressing them. This should not impact user experience in any way unless you were to choose to click on the suggestion.

Please feel free to comment/answer on this post for other examples of ‘Did you mean’ that you run into that feel rather off. Any and all feedback is helpful to make this much better!

  • 2
    @davidism: I'm not sure it hurts to show a suggestion when there's nothing else to show. I don't know the details, but it stands to reason that we'll learn more having it live than if we futz with it in development. Nov 15, 2017 at 23:27
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    Also, why exactly isn't this post featured? You all are working on one of the features which users have always wanted, and we all are really happy about that, but why not make it visible to all users network wide? Most of these users would not even be aware of this as they'd only be following the per site meta, and the question would end up in the 2nd page by tomorrow, mixed in between the other questions. Nov 16, 2017 at 4:49
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    "fucktion" results in a suggestion for "function", but "fuction" (only one letter difference) does not. Ref: At 17 min 54 secs in episode 50 of the (original) Stack Overflow podcast, 2009-04-21 (with Steve Yegge). Nov 16, 2017 at 16:18
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    @BhargavRao: Currently, this feature is, um, not wonderful. It's a step in the right direction and I think it'll be a small win for everyone if we get it right. But we don't need (or want) to draw a lot of attention to the feature right now. But if people want to talk about it, this is the place. Nov 16, 2017 at 17:01
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    I hope you guys are starting small and ramping up, because I've never seen "search doesn't autocorrect muh goofs" as a complaint about search around here :/
    – user1228
    Nov 16, 2017 at 21:38
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    @Won't: Yeah. This is a cheap feature of Elasticsearch. We recently updated and figured it wouldn't hurt to turn it on. That said, I'm typo-prone and have often wished we had such a feature. Nov 16, 2017 at 22:42
  • Correction: it is at 17 min 07 secs, not 17 min 54 secs. Oct 8, 2018 at 19:50

6 Answers 6


A feature request: Add suggestions even when there are results for the typo word. The first thing I ran into was the famous typo of phyton, but I was surprised not to see any suggestions.


With results

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Without results

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  • 1
    But if you were searching Physics, you'd probably want "photon" :D
    – Catija
    Nov 15, 2017 at 23:54
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    Checking on Philosophy the rather unhelpful suggestion is "put_on". But if we can train this thing to give better suggestions, it would make sense to show them. Nov 15, 2017 at 23:56
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    Or if we're following Google's style, search the predicted correct keyword (perhaps by comparing count of search result) first while adding an alternative to search for the typo word. Nov 16, 2017 at 1:34
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    @Catija Well, I think that they're going to train each site's search using its own data. So that'd be covered. Nov 16, 2017 at 4:44
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    @AndrewT., Google's "I know better than you" search is problematic enough when most people are doing general-interest searches (just try looking for "row vs. wade", the punchline to innumerable jokes about crossing rivers). For something like SE, where things tend to have similar and often typo-like names, searching preemptively for the assumed-correct keywords is likely to frustrate a lot of people.
    – Mark
    Nov 16, 2017 at 23:33
  • @Mark fair enough, but I still believe it would be helpful for more obvious typo like "andriod" or "andorid" to search for (or include) "android" instead. Nov 17, 2017 at 1:59
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    I noticed the same thing, trivial typos defeat the feature because they're also present in the site content, so you still get a few results. If I type "potsgres" or "posgres" instead of "postgres", I get no suggestions because there are still (bad) results. Nov 17, 2017 at 12:08
  • I've never seen that typo before, but now that I, have I'm sure I'm going to be making it at least daily.
    – uhoh
    Nov 28, 2017 at 19:20

Searching for terms that have a dash in them removes the dash in the suggestion. For example, searching for "Flask-SQLAlchmy" (there's a missing "e" in "Alchemy") suggests the separate words "Flask SQLAlchemy", which is not the same thing.


Searching for terms that should not have a space in them does not suggest the term without the space. For example, searching "sql alchemy" does not suggest "sqlalchemy".


A suggestion on a search with multiple terms includes all the terms. For example, "flask wtfarms" suggests "flask wtforms".

However, advanced search syntax is stripped when using the suggestion. For example, searching "user:me sqlalchmy" suggests "sqlalchemy" without "user:me".


Broken formating for long phrases:


  • @6'whitemale my post is about tab positions in case of long suggested string. There are no short words for example. Nov 17, 2017 at 16:04
  • This should be fixed. It was a results of elasticsearch stemming the results. Nov 28, 2017 at 19:17

I made a typo in the search term, and the "Did you mean:" suggestion is displayed with less font size and the bottom of the page.

It is difficult to find the suggestion on the screen, can we improve the suggestion position and font size?

enter image description here

  • Looks fine to me. What exactly is wrong with the current behavior? Dec 31, 2019 at 8:20
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    @ShadowTheBurningWizard Compared with the initial design, the current suggestion is not easy to find.
    – Arulkumar
    Dec 31, 2019 at 8:58
  • Well, for me it's more intuitive to have the "did you mean" banner big and in the center of the screen. I don't know when it was changed, but I found it to be better. Dec 31, 2019 at 9:00

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