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Help:Searching

From Ballotpedia
Revision as of 12:17, 27 July 2007 by Barnraiser (Talk | contribs)

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Ballotpedia search

To search, just type your query into the search box that you'll find in the menu box on the left side of the page and then hit "Go" or "Search".

Some additional hints and tips follow:

Tips for effective searches

"Go" is case sensitive

The "go" function uses an algorithm to decide what page you're likely to be interested in, and this usually masks its case sensitivity - but not always.

When searching, it doesn't matter whether you use upper or lower case characters

Searches are Ballotpedia are case-insensitive.

Whether you search for "ballot", "Ballot" or "BALLOT", you'll get the same search results.

Avoid short and common words

If your search terms include a common stop word (such as the, your, more, right, while, when, who, which, such, every, about), you may see many irrelevant results.

Wildcards

Be careful about limited wildcards, as they take a toll on the server. See Boolean fulltext search for details on their use.

Words with special characters

In a search for a word with a diaeresis, such as Sint Odiliënberg, it depends whether this ë is stored as one character or as "ë". In the first case one can simply search for Odilienberg (or Odiliënberg); in the second case it can only be found by searching for Odili, euml and/or nberg. This is actually a bug that should be fixed -- the entities should be folded into their raw character equivalents so all searches on them are equivalent.

Words in single quotes

If a word appears in an article with single quotes, you can only find it if you search for the word with quotes. Since this is rarely desirable, it is better to use double quotes in articles for which this problem does not arise. See the manual of style for more info.

An apostrophe is identical to a single quote, therefore the name Mu'ammar can be found only by searching for exactly that (and not otherwise). A word with 's is an exception in that it can be found also by searching for the word without the apostrophe and the s.

Phrases in double quotes -- exact match only

A phrase can easily be found by enclosing it in double quotes. For example, "Alaska Ballot Measures" returns 1 match; Alaska Ballot Measures (two standalone words) returns 3.

All search terms must be present

Only pages that contain all the words exactly as you typed them in will be returned. So if you didn't get any results, leave out one or more terms, or make sure that all search terms were spelled correctly.

Avoid short and common words

This is the most likely cause of an unexpected failed search. If your search terms include a common "stop word" (such as "the", "one", "your", "more", "right", "while", "when", "who", "which", "such", "every", "about", "onto"), then your search will fail without any results. Short numbers, and words that appear in half of all articles, will also not be found. In this case, drop those words and rerun the search.

Namespaces searched by default

The search only applies to the namespaces selected in the user's preferences. To search the other namespaces check or uncheck the tickboxes in "Search in namespaces" box found at the bottom of a search results page. Depending on the browser, a box may still be checked from a previous search, but without being effective any longer! To make sure, uncheck and recheck it.

Searching the image namespace means searching the image descriptions, i.e. the first parts of the image description pages.

The source text is searched

The source text (what one sees in the edit box, also called wiki text) is searched. This distinction is relevant for piped links, for interlanguage links, special characters (if ê is coded as ê it is found searching for ecirc), etc.

Delay in updating the search index

For reasons of efficiency and priority, very recent changes are not always immediately taken into account in searches.

References

A great deal of this article was taken or inspired by Wikipedia (7/27/07)