I didn't really know how to break this down or ask it in a way that would be focused and concretely provable and answerable. It may very well be "in my head", but I am reasonably confident it is not, because my knowledge base on specific technical knowledge has definitely been substantially increased over the last 5 years (or during the past usages of search), and it should be far easier for me to find the knowledge I am looking for than before, because I should "know where to look" even better now that I am armed with more keywords and buzzwords to use in my searches.

For context the large majority of the knowledge involved in my activity is related to JavaScript. And, I started out with Experts Exchange, remember the days when SO results were still not as good as EE results, and almost out of nowhere all of a sudden one day SO results were the top results and almost always higher quality, and EE was then only good for niche results. (The classic story of a new and hip open community effort overwhelming an overly clichy non-open community with rules too stifling to keep up with explosive growth and community sentiment.)

I've considered the possibility that my Google results just aren't as good as before, maybe due to my inactivity in general. But I remember the difference between searching between EE and SO and how dramatic the quality (and quantity) of information was, and how easy or not easy it was to search through them with the built-in search features.

I feel that problems with my ability to find search results is important regardless of subjectivity, because it greatly affects my productivity (in life) and more so my ability to contribute to the site. And so I am raising the issue and asking if anybody else has noticed a difference in the quality of search results in general.

I've been inactive at Stack Overflow for roughly 5 years and only recently started using it again. Mostly inactive even before that. From what I remember the timing is about when jQuery was all the rage. And then a very small spurt of usage when React became all the rage.

I remember the last time I was active at SO being able to hop on Google, search for a technical problem, and have the results on the first or second page. And more often than not have a result from Stack Overflow that was easier to digest than whatever article some blogger wrote. Or when I'm answering a question be able to reasonably skim through the suggested dupe results and find related articles that often helped with creating a solution even without being the solution.

I've been answering a lot of questions that I would have expected to have dupes everywhere, due to how simple they were, but I don't think I have yet had a single question where the automatic searching for duplicates has ever turned up any useful results.

Has there been a change in search algorithm? Or maybe there has been a shift in the quality of posts in general?
What I'm noticing is that I can't seem to find relevant results at Stack Overflow like I had been before, many years back, when I would have expected results to take even more effort than it does now.

  • 11
    The site search has never been great, it is very rare an appropriate duplicate is suggested during posting. People have been talking about this for years: meta.stackoverflow.com/questions/289364/… meta.stackoverflow.com/questions/359363/… meta.stackoverflow.com/questions/357462/… I haven't had an issue searching with Google.
    – Mark Kirby
    May 23, 2020 at 19:20
  • 2
    I agree that searching SO seems a little harder now than it was a few years ago, whether via internal search or Google. Partly that's due to a lot of low quality & duplicated questions. But I think it depends on the topic. Tags like Python & JavaScript get a lot of traffic... And perhaps some of the experts have lost their enthusiasm to put as much effort into curating their favourite tags.
    – PM 2Ring
    May 23, 2020 at 21:25
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    Sorry, but what exactly is the point here? May 24, 2020 at 6:33
  • 4
    Search is becoming more and more broken, not only for search on Stack Overflow, but in general (Google and DuckDuckGo (Bing behind the scenes?)). The other day one of my Google search results were full of keyword spamming pages. May 24, 2020 at 13:08
  • Have you tried searching for similar, existing questions addressing this issue. Uups, there we go, how to search with broken search. On the other hand , SE Inc. managed to fix (a lot, not all) of the damage in relation with their communities lately, so maybe, maybe, they can fix search, too.
    – GhostCat
    May 26, 2020 at 12:27


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