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Stack Exchange sites have a little-known feature: if you type in a number of four or more digits into the search box, and the number happens to be the ID of a non-deleted question (not answer), you will be redirected to the question with that ID.

This feature has been in place since 2009. Attitudes towards the feature have changed quite a bit over the years, as indicated by a 2010 feature request to add this redirection (it already existed), versus an employee commenting in 2017 that this is a "useless feature".

Personally, I find this feature a bit irksome. For instance, searching for "1040" on Personal Finance and Money, I (as an American) expect to be searching for questions about the income tax form 1040, but I'm redirected to money.stackexchange.com/questions/1040. Similarly, when searching for "3000" here on MSE, I was expecting for it to provide me some search results to lead me to Anyone with a "visited: 3000 days, 3000 consecutive" in his/her profile? (before its title was edited), not to go to meta.stackexchange.com/questions/3000.

Plus, the vast majority of users do not have the ID of a question memorized (10k-only).

What should be done with this feature? Would you support the feature request from 2010, or the comment from 2017?

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I ended up clicking through a series of duplicates until I got to one with an answer that says you can put the number inside quotes to search for the number rather than the ID:

[Search] 1040

This gives you the question with ID 1040.

[Search] "1040"

This gives you questions relating to taxes. (And now this question.)

Getting an ID result is interesting. I don't know how useful it is, but it's kind of cool. At least with knowing the trick to bypass it.

However, the feature does seem to hijack common sense.

If it's to be kept, it might make more sense to use it along with a documented search phrase:

[Search] id:1040

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    There’s already a way to search by id though: inquestion:1040, and you can also use is:q to filter out the question’s answers. – Laurel Aug 12 '18 at 12:15
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    @laurel I've always used that to search for text in a question—not for the ID of a question. In fact, when I use inquestion:1040, I don't get ID 1040. I get no hits. – Jason Bassford Aug 12 '18 at 13:57
  • If you’re searching on this site, question number 1040 seems to have been migrated to meta server fault and the original was deleted. I had no problem when searching for questions that actually still exist on the site. – Laurel Aug 12 '18 at 23:20
  • @laurel Fair enough (and oddly coincidental). But inquestion is not used to only search for a question ID. I went to movies.stackexchange.com. There, inquestion:1991 results only in the question with that ID but inquestion:"1991" results in hits with questions that have that text. So, inquestion exhibits the same multipurpose function as just putting in a number and nothing else into the search box. It would be nice if none of the searches went to the question with the ID except for a search function used specifically for that purpose and nothing else. – Jason Bassford Aug 12 '18 at 23:43
  • I agree with the search prefix. I would assume searching for a number in the text is the more common option, searching for an ID is more of an exception. Therefore it would make more sense IMHO to require extra keystrokes for the ID search (id:) rather than for the number search (””). – 11684 Aug 14 '18 at 13:36
  • Being able to use the search field to locate an answer by ID (versus forcing users to type a well-structured URL) has inherent value when it comes to sharing: consider the lack of copy-and-paste IRL. That said, the magic associated with the four-character minimum is distasteful. I would support eliminating that magic and instead return the question with matching ID as the top result for any number searched, but also include "normal" results (e.g. as per quoted numbers). I also like the id: prefix idea. – patricktokeeffe Apr 15 '19 at 23:37
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    @Laurel Nobody expects the Searching Inquestion! – Rand al'Thor Aug 15 at 21:23

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