When you type in the title of question on either Stack Overflow or Server Fault, you get a list of related questions. If you type the exact same text into the search box at the top right you get far fewer, if any, results.
For example, use "php gd bmp" on Stack Overflow. The search box is completely useless.

Why is that?

  • thats a great question, should be noticed! it would make perfect sense to me to replace the search box search enginge with the title box's engine for searching
    – user221081
    Commented Jul 8, 2013 at 10:14

3 Answers 3


Asking a question you get a list of questions matching the ored searched words, whereas in search they are anded.

  • Writing a question in your example yields all questions containing either php, gd, or mbp in the title.
  • Searching will bring back all questions and answers with all three words in either title or body.
  • 6
    I wonder why this is set up this way. The topic search has always been far, far, more useful to me that the search box. Are there users for whom this is not true? Commented Jul 15, 2009 at 8:20
  • I'm searching all the time with the Title box. Is there any way to use the same behavior in the search box ? Commented Feb 15, 2011 at 16:47

A few recent changes in search..

  1. Search now HEAVILY weights title in the results, since people seemed to really like that approach (used on the /ask page, which searched exclusively on title alone).

  2. Any individual search terms which map directly to the top 40 tags will be auto-converted to tag searches. So if you enter

    c++ entities

    it will convert to

    [c++] entities


Try again and see if it is more to your liking.


In all honesty, your best bet is to use google instead when searching. I'm not sure what the blockades are to improving the SO native-search, but for now you can use google.

    site:stackoverflow.com search items here

Searching with tags:

    site:stackoverflow.com inurl:questions/tagged/feature-request search terms

Searching multiple tags:

    site:stackoverflow.com inurl:questions/tagged/php+mysql search terms

  • 1
    Fair enough. I wonder if the SO crew is looking into integrating google search into the site(s). Commented Jul 15, 2009 at 8:21

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