Let's say I want to search for all posts containing a certain word, or maybe not containing a word. Maybe I want to search only under a given tag (or collection of tags), or only for posts by a given user, or only for questions and not answers, or only for posts with scores in a certain range or active in a certain time frame. Are all these things possible?
First of all, go to the search box in the left-hand side of the topbar:
You can type any word or collection of words into there to get a list of all posts on the SFF site containing all of those words. Putting
- before a word will exclude posts containing that word, so e.g.
voldemort -dumbledore will give you all posts that mention Voldemort but not Dumbledore. Quotes enable you to search for phrases rather than just collections of words: e.g.
"Gandalf the White" will give you all posts containing the phrase "Gandalf the White", not all posts containing those three words somewhere. You can search for URLs linked from within a post by typing
url:example.com into the search box.
But probably you know all this already. The interesting bit is how to do more advanced searches. The official page on this is here, but I've rewritten it all below (and wow, did I learn a lot while doing so!) That help page is also linked to from the 'Advanced Search Tips' which you see on the right of every search results page:
Warning: entering a number into the search bar may give you the post with that number as its post ID rather than a list of all posts containing that number in their text. This applies if and only if the post with that ID is a question. For example, searching for
9331 here on meta will take you back to the question above, but searching for
9332 won't take you to this answer. Whether you want to see this as a bug or a feature is up to you; certainly, it has its uses but can also be annoying.
* in a search term to do a wildcard search: e.g.
Wooki* will give you all questions containing Wooki, Wookie, Wookiee, or any other possible misspelling.
To search for questions only in a certain tag, include the tag name in square brackets. E.g.
white tower [wheel-of-time] will give you all posts in the wheel-of-time tag which mention the White Tower.
To broaden your search to more than one tag, you can use
or between tags. E.g.
[star-trek-tos] or [star-trek-tng] will give you all posts in either of the two tags star-trek-tos, star-trek-tng. And as with individual words, adding
- before a tag excludes posts in that tag, so e.g.
[star-trek] -[star-trek-tos] will give you all questions with the star-trek tag but not the star-trek-tos tag.
The wildcard search mentioned above can also be very useful here: searching
[star-trek-*] will give you all posts in any of the tags star-trek-tos, star-trek-tng, star-trek-ds9, star-trek-voyager, star-trek-data, and so on (I can't even be bothered to list them all!)
You can search only in tags you have marked as 'favourites' by appending
intags:mine to your search terms.
You can search for posts only by a given user provided you know their user ID: e.g.
user:976 will give you all posts by DVK. If you're searching for your own posts, you don't have to remember your own user ID:
user:me will suffice.
You can also search among a user's 'favourited' questions by adding
infavorites:mine to your search terms.
Types of post
You can search only questions, or only answers, by including
is:answer in your search. Both use their first letter as shorthand:
You can narrow down the range for number of votes, views, and (for a question) answers. When a single number is provided, it's assumed to be a minimum. Ranges can be specified as well, either open-ended or closed.
score:-1..will both return posts with a score greater than or equal to -1
views:500-1000will return posts with between 500 and 1000 views
answers:..3(for questions only) will return questions with at most 3 answers
answers:2..2will return questions with exactly 2 answers.
You can also search only for posts specifying - or not specifying - certain specific criteria. In each of the following cases, you can put
true after the colon to find posts that do satisfy that criterion, and
false to find posts that don't.
isaccepted:(for answers only)
hasaccepted:(for questions only)
isanswered:(for questions only; only positively-scored answers count)
closed:(for questions only)
duplicate:(for questions only)
migrated:(for questions only)
Specifying a question-only or answer-only criterion will limit the search to that type of post. Specifying both at the same time will yield no results.
You can narrow down to specific dates or date ranges for posts, using
created: to specify when the posts were created and
lastactive: to specify when they were last active (created, edited, etc.).
Dates can be entered in the following formats:
Absolute dates, using one, two, or all three of the Y/M/D possibilities.
created:2012..2013searches posts created from January 1, 2012 to December 31, 2013;
created:2012searches posts created from January 1, 2012 to December 31, 2012;
created:2012-04..2012-05searches posts created between April 1, 2012 and May 31, 2012;
lastactive:2012-04-03searches posts which were last active between 12:00 AM on April 3, 2012 and 11:59 PM on April 3, 2012.
1dare shorthand for "last year", "last month", and "yesterday": e.g., if today is 17 March 2016,
created:1msearches posts created between 1 February 2016 and 29 February 2016. (Any other number can be substituted for 1.)
If you want to see all the posts active in the last three months, use
lastactive:3m..On 17 March 2016, that will show posts from 17 December 2015 up to the most recently active. You can close the range as well:
Of course, all times are in UTC.
Questions where you could accept an answer
user:me is:question hasaccepted:no answers:1 closed:no into the search box (or click the link).
This searches for
user:me // posts by you is:question // questions hasaccepted:no // no answer has been accepted yet answers:1 // it has at least one answer closed:no // not closed
And there you go.
I attempt to find questions through using the more unusual Potter words: Fudge, instead of Minister; Galleon instead of money (in this instance, money may be better, it depends; Elder Wand instead of "the wand Draco stole from Dumbledore". Etc. The more exotic/specific the word, the more likely it is to pop.