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In answering this question I stumbled upon some peculiar behavior.

No account: 500 hits

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Incognito mode: 500 hits

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I'm not sure why this is...

Question: When not logged in, why is my search limited to 500 hits?

I'm not sure if this is a "bug" or a "feature".

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    Risk mitigation; anonymous users using search to scrape the site is a bigger problem than a user with an account that is doing the same, so anonymous users are rate limited on the number of search results returned for any given search. Jan 21 '20 at 13:03
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    (Note: I'm speculating, I don't have first-hand knowledge that it is a rate limit, but if it wasn't this would be a very peculiar bug indeed. It wasn't listed in the rate limits FAQ nor can I find any other explicit confirmation). Jan 21 '20 at 13:06
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Search is heavily rate-limited in various ways for anonymous users for performance reasons. Anonymous users get cut off after 500 results and are also limited to three tags when performing tag searches. I believe there were a couple other minor features that are disabled for anonymous users. The sorting options were also disabled at the time, but I don't know if they are still disabled for anonymous users.

They were implemented many years ago to mitigate a DDOS attack and then never removed.

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  • I thought the restriction against searching multiple tags as a logged-out user was removed a while ago. In 2015-16 it didn't work, but sometime in 2017 it started working, and I just tested today and it works. Jan 21 '20 at 16:54
  • @SonictheAnonymousHedgehog Looks like we increased the limit to three tags. After that, we cut off additional tags.
    – animuson StaffMod
    Jan 21 '20 at 17:03

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