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To search Wikipedia:
- There should be a small search box at the side of the screen, marked search, followed by Go and Search. Just type what you're looking for into the search box and press the Enter key. Or, click Go / Search.
The most important search tip is: don't search for only words in quotes. Try the search without quotes first. If that's not good enough, put as many words as possible outside the quotes or add some more to narrow the search.
- 1 Limiting results
- 2 Avoid short and common words
- 3 Search is case-insensitive
- 4 Wildcards
- 5 Words with special characters
- 6 Words in single quotes
- 7 Namespaces searched by default
- 8 Redirects can be excluded
- 9 The source text is searched
- 10 Delay in updating the search index
- 11 If you cannot find an appropriate page on Axaptapedia
Axaptapedia's default search mode will turn up results with any of the words in your query. For instance, search engine turns up many results containing only "search" but not "engine" or only "engine" but not "search" in addition to the ones you probably wanted, which contain both words.
To limit to results that include all words, put a "+" at the beginning of each word: +search +engine returns only pages containing both words, like Google's default mode.
You can also do a phrase search by enclosing words in quotes: "search engine" turns up a smaller set of results, which not only have both words but have them in order.
To exclude results that include some word, put a "-" at the beginning: search -engine
Avoid short and common words
If your search terms include a common "stop word" (such as "the", "one", "your", "more", "right", "while", "when", "who", "which", "such", "every", "about", "onto"), it will be ignored by the search system. If you're trying to do a phrase search or all-words-only search, this may result in returning nothing at all. 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.
Search is case-insensitive
The searches for "fortran", "Fortran" and "FORTRAN" all return the same results. (This does not seem to be entirely true. If a multi-word entry has capitalized letters in any word other than the first, searching does not appear to be case insensitive. For example, consider the entry "French and Indian Wars". A search for 'french and indian wars' will not find this entry. However, a search for 'French and Indian Wars' will find it, as will a search for 'french and Indian Wars'.)
You can use some limited wildcards if you really want to, but I forget offhand what. Look up "fulltext search" on http://www.mysql.com/ and look down under 'boolean search' for the details. However, wildcard searches are slower, so go easy on the poor server.
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. See also Wikipedia:Special characters.
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 Mu'ammar can be found searching for exactly that (and not otherwise). A word with apostrophe s is an exception in that it can be found also searching for the word without the apostrophe and the s.
Namespaces searched by default
The search only applies to the namespaces selected in the 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.
Redirects can be excluded
Check or uncheck the tickbox "List redirects" in "Search in namespaces" box found at the bottom of a search results page.
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 Wikipedia:interlanguage links (to find links to Chinese articles, search for zh, not for Zhongwen), 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.
At the moment, the search engine uses an index that isn't updated at all. This is temporary.