I know this has been addressed before, but I don’t think anyone has clarified that this is a real, actual problem—not just a hypothetical one—at English.SE and that some kind of solution is needed if the search functionality is to do its job in a useful way.
Hey guess what? English.SE is necessarily an exception to the need to filter stop words. The stop words are quite frequently the topic of discussion, because language itself is the topic of discussion. If we can't search for stop words, the search becomes useless for finding certain questions.
What search terms would I use to find a question called “When should I use ‘is’ and when should I use ‘are’?”? Even if I search for the exact title of the question there are no results! What excuse is there for that?
And if you didn’t already know the titles of the following questions, what reasonable search terms would you enter to find them?
- “When do I have to use 'will' instead of 'going to'?”?
- “What is the best way to explain how to choose between ‘its’ and ‘it's’?
- “Am, Is, Are, Was, Were, Be, Being, Been”?
Seriously, how would someone who is looking for these questions find them using the search feature? This is not just a small handful of questions where the problem can be ignored. These kinds of questions permeate the site. Due to the stop words limitation, the search functionality of the site is useless for finding these questions. Useless!
Might I suggest that a reasonable compromise would be to index stop words if the words themselves are being discussed rather than used? (See Use-mention distinction on Wikipedia for an explanation of the difference between using a word and mentioning it). You can tell if a word is being mentioned if it is in quotation marks or if it is italicized. Maybe there is some kind of workaround using tags—we can make tags for each stop word and add the appropriate tags to questions that are about stop words.
But please, you can’t just ignore this problem and reject the request. We all know that the search feature is essential to site usability, so let’s try to make it actually usable for us at English.SE.
I humbly request that the previous rejections of similar requests be reconsidered.