A similar question was asked about a month ago: Does the search function need improvement?

The reason I'm bringing it up again is because:

  • The last question didn't have any specific examples, as Jeff replied:
    This is impossible to respond to without specific examples. I'll edit my answer when you edit your question.
  • It's a relevant question since SO is growing more than ever.
  • Since SO seem to have a "working" search function already (when you ask a question) I don't see why the real search function doesn't work better.

To my example:

I was at a computer the other day where I hadn't logged in on my SO account. I wanted to search for my question: How do I stream .flv files from SQL database
I entered the title word for word in the search field but the search result didn't even list my question among the first 3 pages (I didn't even bother looking beyond page 3...)

I know the search function is used for searching tags and keywords, but if the search can't even find a question when you enter the title word for word I feel it needs to be revised.
"You can use google" is not an answer here.

The "Related questions" at Ask Question lists my question as first alternative so it seems SO possesses a good search function already. It's not just used to its full potential.

Just to clear things up on this question. I didn't wan't to be educated about different ways to use the search function at SO. I just want it to work the way any first time user would expect it to work.
That doesn't mean I don't appreciate being told how the search works though =)


I don't think there's any current revisions going on. That said, the reason you didn't see it is because your search was auto-transformed to:

How do I stream .flv files from [sql] [database]

The top 40 or so tags get auto-converted into tag searches when entered in the tag search. Your question doesn't have , so it doesn't show up in the results.

If you search for it in quotes, it's the first result.

  • any search terms matching the most popular 10 tags will be automatically mapped to a tag to help narrow your search according to meta.stackoverflow.com/search, but that's just a detail.
    – Arjan
    Apr 21 '11 at 12:49
  • @Arjan Neither [sql] nor [database] are in the top 10, so I imagine the page is out-dated in that regard.
    – Grace Note StaffMod
    Apr 21 '11 at 12:50
  • 1
    Still, I think it's a valid concern if a word for word search doesn't give the most obvious question as first result. Plus, the reason you did search with quotes is because you knew the question beforehand. Most of the times you don't and you'd have to search forever to get the exact match.
    – Niklas
    Apr 21 '11 at 12:56
  • My bad, on SO it says: "any search terms matching the most popular 60 tags ...". Note sure if it is really different on other sites, so I'll leave that up to Nick to check. Added it to the list here.
    – Arjan
    Apr 21 '11 at 12:57
  • @Niklas You could also use + to specify singular words. I only used quotes to save time. Point is, an actual word search would've worked, you only lost out because two of them got transformed to tags (usually because the appropriate questions do have those tags). It's indeed a precarious thing, because the auto-tag search sometimes does help a lot in finding the necessary stuff. If search had just caught SQL as a tag, then the question still would've been first.
    – Grace Note StaffMod
    Apr 21 '11 at 12:58

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