I've been observing that asking a question is a way better search tool than the search bar. Here is an example:

Say, this is what I am looking for:

pandas number of subgroups for each group

Let's see which one of the following three methods will return better search results.

  1. Go to SO search bar, and type it in there. It returns only one result, and that result is really not an answer to what we are looking for.
  2. Try "Ask Question", and type it in there, and you'll see that the first result that comes out is perfectly what that search query would be looking for!
  3. Go to Google, and search like this: site:stackoverflow.com pandas number of subgroups for each group, and the first result is again that useful post.

So clearly, googling or asking a question is a better idea than using the native search engine.

This post asked 6 years ago if we could implement a better search engine, and the answers refer to the search tool I just mentioned in item 1. Clearly, it is not working as desired.

My question is two-fold:

  1. Why is the "Ask Question" search is working better than the search bar? Please include examples in your answer if you believe this is not true.
  2. If most of us believe that this is indeed true, can we implement the search that the "Ask Question" invokes as the main search engine?
  • 2
    this is one of the dirty little secrets of more seasoned SE users. I'd rather start asking a question than search in many cases. ;p Commented Mar 9, 2018 at 2:55
  • That's exactly what I started doing, @JourneymanGeek. It's time to make things official. :)
    – FatihAkici
    Commented Mar 9, 2018 at 2:57

1 Answer 1


After playing around with the system, I realized that you're right. For this very reason, I end up searching Google before asking a question, as Google will find the answer on SE, better than the site itself.

And the reason for this, is very simple. The main search bar, must find all the words you have entered, within the posts, while the Ask Question bar, uses some words from your query, and tries to come up with anything that might match your problem.

So essentially, the ask question bar works similar to Google's search engine, while the regular search bar, focuses on specific words.

So it seems like the regular search bar has what to improve on.

I propose that there should be an option that would be the opposite of "exact words", something like *search for similar phrases to this text* and it should work similar to the way the Ask Question bar, works.

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