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Using the Search Function

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PostPosted: Thu Jul 12, 2007 10:04 pm    Post subject: Using the Search Function Reply with quote

This is not exactly Google. This is primarily forum software with a very basic search feature built in. Using it requires some thought, attention to detail and awareness of the available options. It should not be used hastily. Just plugging in some words and hitting "search", while overlooking important options, will not produce good results.

Keep in mind that you're searching through over 600,000 messages. Narrow your search as much as possible by using specific search terms and choosing your options carefully. If you get no results or too many results, your search criteria is too broad and/or you are not optimizing your options.

If you select Search for any terms or use query as entered, then topics containing ANY of the words you entered will be displayed. The search form defaults to "Search for any terms", but it's almost always better to use "Search for all terms". Be sure you look at your options and choose them intelligently.

You may use the AND, OR, and NOT operators to indicate which words you want to search for. Use AND to indicate that multiple words MUST be found. Use OR to indicate that a word is optional/alternate. Use NOT to indicate that a word should not be present in the topics displayed.
    One common problem is using the "Search for any terms..." option and including very common words like "the" or "Hummer". This will not produce desirable results because you are actually searching for every instance of that common word. This will produce so many results it may overload the system.

If you select Search for all terms, only topics containing all of the words in the query will be displayed. Selecting this option has effects comparable to using "Search for any terms...", with the AND operator between each term.

You may use the asterisk(*) wildcard character to broaden your search. The asterisk will match any number of characters. So *cheese* will match cheese, cheesewheel, wheelcheese, or wheelcheesewheel. Likewise cheese*fudge will match cheesefudge, cheeseyfudge, or cheese597fudge. Be careful when using wildcards. You may be asking it to search for too many possible matches.

To increase the speed and decrease the overhead of the search utility, only words may be searched for. Phrases (such as "cheese wheel") may not be searched for, except by their component words. The minimum size for words is four characters, and the maximum size is twenty characters. Any non-alphanumeric character (e.g. white space and punctuation) is a word boundary.

Search for Author - You may search for posts by author, the user who posted them. Simply enter the author's username into this text field. You may use the asterisk(*) wildcard in author's names to broaden your search. This will give you all posts by that particular user. It can be used in combination with keywords to find specific posts by specific users on specific topics. If you search for an author who has a very large number of posts, without also including keywords, you may not be able to access all that user's posts. See "Overloading the System" below.
    If you do not get complete results using "Search for Author", go to any post by that user and click on the "Profile" button (or on the username in the topic list). There will be a link in the user's profile that says "Find all posts by..." Use that for complete results.

Search Options:

Forum - Select the forum you wish to search in, or All available. To search multiple forums, search by Category.

Category - Select the category you wish to search in, or All available.

Display Results as Posts - Search results will be displayed as a list of the posts. Part of the post that matches the query will be displayed, and the search terms highlighted.

Display Results as Topics - Search results will be displayed as a list of Topic titles. For each topic there is a link to the forum it is in, the topic itself, and the author of the topic.

Search Previous - This dropdown box will allow you to specify the maximum age of posts to display as results of the search. There are also radio buttons here that will allow you to search only the body of posts, or the subject(title) of the posts as well.

Sort by - This will allow you to specify how search results are organized. You may sort by Post Time, Post Subject, Topic Title, Author, or Forum. The sort may be in ascending or descending order alphabetically (or chronologically where appropriate)

Return first - When Display Results as is set to Posts, this dropdown box will allow you to control how much of the post is displayed in the search result.

If you are not getting the kind of results you want, don't get frustrated. Just post your question to the forum. Don't worry about it having been asked before. After some 18 years and over half a million posts, everything has been asked before.

Overloading the System - Again, this is not exactly Google. The search feature has limitations. If your search terms are too broad it can produce so many results that the system will be overloaded. You may get no results at all or find you are unable to access subsequent pages of results. If you search for an author with a very large number of posts, this can also cause an overload. If this happens, narrow your search as much as possible.
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