According to this question there was a mechanism implemented to allow searching within sets of favorite questions, most usefully used when searching through your own favorite list (which for some users can be rather large):

infavorite:mine [searchterm]

According to the most recent comments on that same question, this feature got "broken" sometime in early 2011. Certainly, in trying to use this functionality myself, it does not appear to be working any more. I'm assuming this happened when the complete search engine was modified, as advertised in this blog post.

A simple enough request: Can we please have our favorite search back?

  • 1
    It wasn't so much "broken" as it was deprecated. The original Meta post for the new search system was deleted, but to quote it: "infavorites: is...no more, this would be terribly expensive on the back-end and just wasn't used enough to keep it around". I didn't have a long list of favorites myself, but I've heard of others who have found it useful.
    – Grace Note StaffMod
    Commented Feb 11, 2011 at 13:21
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    Oh no! This is gone? This was so incredibly useful. Is it feasible to fall back to a LIKE query against SQL Server just for the favorite searches? I'd be happy to sacrifice a bit of quality in the results just for the ability to search in my favorites at all.
    – Shabbyrobe
    Commented Feb 25, 2011 at 3:39
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    I am making this question a favorite. Hopefully I'll be able to locate it in the future. Commented Aug 19, 2012 at 2:12
  • 3
    This has been fixed. (Ping @Nick Craver). Commented Jan 11, 2013 at 18:12
  • perhaps this is a better accepted answer now? Unfortunately sorting answers here by active, oldest, or votes all show the currently accepted but inaccurate "This was dropped... status-deferred" answer at the top.
    – uhoh
    Commented Dec 24, 2019 at 17:20
  • As the original question asker, I've changed the accepted answer on this question. At the time of asking the question, Nick Craver's answer was both correct and the most informative as the searching within favourites was broken, however now, the searching within favourites is back and so Lake's answer is now the most informative and correct answer to this question.
    – CraigTP
    Commented Dec 26, 2019 at 13:08

3 Answers 3


A new search engine for Stack Exchange (Dec '12) states the infavorites:mine functionality has returned (referenced in this answer as well).

This question already has the tag, but I'm adding this for reference as I didn't find it immediately myself.

  • Good catch - but also flag the main post and let mods know to mark it as status-completed
    – user206222
    Commented Apr 17, 2013 at 8:00
  • It works, yay! This is the correct answer now
    – uhoh
    Commented Dec 25, 2019 at 0:26

This was dropped as infeasible due to performance concerns. When you're inside SQL joining to a table to filter results is a perfectly valid option, and one a relational database is designed to do, and do well.

However, once you leave that RDBMS world (as we've done with the search overhaul - search is now handled by Lucene, not SQL/Full Text), joining back to that list of favorites (which varies in length widely) as a list questions to search becomes a much uglier task in terms of performance. Lucene is designed to search based on attributes in the documents it has, rather than a list of post Ids against a known list (which would be quite a large boolean query to run underneath - directly proportional to the number of favorites that user has).

For the users who would want to search in their favorites (the same group likely to have many), that's where it's most difficult to do this efficiently, and what's why the option was removed. That's not to say we won't bring this back, if we can do it in a way that performs well - even with a high number of favorites, we will.

I'm making this for now, it is on my todo though.

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    Thanks very much for this reply, Nick, and your detailed reasoning as to why it was removed. I appreciate it. I would still definitely love it see the search of favorites back in one form or another as I do believe it is a very handy feature to have and goes towards the overall mantra of the site - to make quality information accessible and available - especially for those of us who have "bookmarked" many great Q&A's over time.
    – CraigTP
    Commented Feb 20, 2011 at 9:42
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    You guys didn't remove the 'favorites' tab in the profile page, so that part must not be the bottleneck. I'd be pretty happy if I could just get an entire page of those favorites and do a browser find on the titles. Can't we at least have that?
    – Pat
    Commented Mar 4, 2011 at 18:51
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    Can't you just query both Lucene and SQL Server, then use C# to return the intersection of those two queries?
    – Gabe
    Commented Mar 22, 2011 at 3:24
  • is there any current workaround to this? I.e. What method would you recommend a user to use when he wants to search a string within his favorites? Commented Mar 30, 2011 at 17:02
  • @AmV - Unfortunately, there isn't currently a work-around, it's something we may circle back to when we give favorites more love. Commented Mar 30, 2011 at 17:04
  • If it is hard on the server side, then why don't you implement a simple filter in the frontend? You do already a query for "mine" favorites. Why does the deferral take sooooo long? Doesn't it have enough user votes? Hint: there are several questions around the subject and all of them have 50+ votes.
    – Rajish
    Commented Nov 6, 2012 at 8:30
  • @Rajish - If it was a client-side filter you'd just have a lot of empty search pages in most cases. And the votes for something does make us take a look at it, but they don't make it any more technically feasible to accomplish. Commented Nov 6, 2012 at 11:22
  • Just to be more clear what I mean by frontend filter is something like scaladoc javascript filter of the hits already queried and downloaded. Here is the idea I'm writing about: scala-lang.org/api/current/index.html#scala.Option - there are two input boxes: writing a string in it filters the list.
    – Rajish
    Commented Nov 6, 2012 at 21:46
  • @Rajish - I'm saying the likelihood of matches in your 15-50 results is low, so many would inexplicably see an empty page. Commented Nov 6, 2012 at 22:25
  • this seems to be no longer accurate
    – uhoh
    Commented Dec 24, 2019 at 17:24

This doesn't seem like it should be that hard to accomplish. Just do the Lucene query to get the list of post IDs that match, query the SQL Server for the specified favorite post IDs, and use the intersection of those as the search results.

Based on my zero knowledge of how the system works in real life, I would expect this feature to be trivial to implement with a few lines of LINQ.


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