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Axaptapedia:Searching

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Template:Shortcut 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.

Part of this page has been copied to meta:Help:Searching and adapted for MediaWiki in general. When you want to edit the text, compare the two pages to see where the edit can best be made,

External search engines

Various search engines can provide domain-specific searches, which lets you search Wikipedia specifically. Searches are based on the text as shown by the browser, so wiki markup is irrelevant. Depending on your browser, you may also be able to use tools that allow you to search Wikipedia using bookmarklets.

In general, external search engines are faster than a Wikipedia search. However, because the search engine's cache is based on when the site was indexed, the search may not return newly created pages. Similarly, the search engine's cached version of the page will not be as up-to-date as the link to Wikipedia itself. Also, when returning Wikipedia articles in a regular search, mirrors and forks of Wikipedia content frequently rank higher than the actual Wikipedia articles because of search engine optimization techniques.

These issues may be less of a problem when using certain search engines that process Wikipedia differently:

  • Yahoo! includes Wikipedia as part of its content acquisition program and gets a regular datafeed.
  • Clusty downloads and processes the database regularly, generating automatic abstracts and image thumbnails and meaningfully parsing redirects, disambiguations, and categories.

Google

By following the links below, you can use the Google search engine to search Wikipedia - either all languages, or English-only. Google indexes all namespaces.

If you frequently search via Google, consider installing the Google Toolbar. Using the "search this site" button allows you to quickly search the English version of Wikipedia. The official Google Toolbar is only for Windows with Internet Explorer, but there is an unofficial version for Mozilla which is open source and works on all operating system platforms for which Mozilla is available, such as Windows, Linux and Mac OS X.

Yahoo!

By following the links below, you can use the Yahoo! search engine to search Wikipedia - either all languages or English-only.

If you frequently search via Yahoo!, consider installing the Yahoo! Companion Toolbar. Using the "Search Only the Current Site" button allows you to quickly search the English version of Wikipedia. The official Yahoo! Companion Toolbar is only for Windows with Internet Explorer.

Clusty

By following the link below, you can use the Clusty search engine to search and cluster Wikipedia in English only.

If you frequently search via Clusty, consider installing the Clusty Toolbar (beta). Selecting the "Encyclopedia" search source allows you to quickly search the English version of Wikipedia. The Clusty Toolbar is available for Windows with Internet Explorer and Mozilla Firefox (beta).

Search facility of Wikipedia

The native Wikipedia search feature via the search box that appears on every Wikipedia page is not available during peak hours or other periods of high server activity (which may last for days). Here are some hints for using it effectively (see also Wikipedia:User preferences help, "Search result settings" section, and Wikipedia:Go button).

Limiting results

Wikipedia'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.

See Wikipedia:Common words, searching for which is not possible for the stop words filtered out by the database. From there one can at least go to an article with a stop word as title. Searching for the combination of one or more words and the common word "not" gives a database query syntax error due to a bug in the software.

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'.)

Wildcards

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.

NB: Search has inconsistencies

A search for "Syrian Church of the East", may direct the user to a page about the Calvary Baptist church in Manhattan!

After searching for "Chaldean Church", a user reported that wiki made him attend the "Uniting Church in Australia".

Earlier, a search for "neighbourhood watch" sent users to a "neighbourhood watch" titled page. A search for the US-spelled "neighborhood watch" persistently and automatically sent users to a page titled "tornado watch".

The search feature is not guaranteed to be reliable, and may return unexpected and unintelligent results.

Multi-lingual Wikipedia search

There is a meta-search available that allows you to search different language Wikipedias at the same time.

Multi-lingual Wikipedia search (disabled)

You can also do this using Google.

Using Mozilla to automatically search

Listed below are ways to search Wikipedia with Mozilla-based browsers, including Mozilla Suite, Mozilla Firefox, Netscape 6 and 7, and Beonex Communicator.

Search Wikipedia from the sidebar search tab or address bar

Works with: Mozilla Suite, Mozilla Firefox, Netscape 6/7, Beonex Communicator.

Mozilla, Beonex Communicator, and Netscape 6 & 7 come with a sidebar that allows a user to search the Wikipedia site, and Firefox has a toolbar item to do the same. To install the search plugin that tells Mozilla how to search Wikipedia, do the following:

  1. Go to one of the following sources of Wikipedia search plugins. The Mycroft plugins are out of date, and plugins from the second source may work better.
    1. Original search plugins from Mycroft
    2. Updated search plugins
  2. There are versions for many languages, so pick the language local to your area.
  3. If JavaScript is enabled, clicking on the name of the search plugin will automatically install the search plugin.
  4. If you can't install the search plugin automatically, the second source above lets you right-click on the plugin and save it to disk, or download a ZIP file containing all available plugins. Save the downloaded .src file in the searchplugins directory where Mozilla is installed and restart the browser to use the new plugin.

To make Wikipedia your default search engine in Mozilla, Beonex Communicator, and Netscape 6/7:

  1. Go to Edit, Preferences.
  2. Expand the Navigator tree and choose Internet Search.
  3. Choose Wikipedia as your default search engine.

With Wikipedia selected as your default engine, searches can be conducted via the search sidebar tab, search box, or the web address bar.


Search Wikipedia using a bookmarklet

Works with: Mozilla Suite, Mozilla Firefox, Netscape 6/7, Beonex Communicator.

Wikipedia can also be searched via a bookmarklet.

In Mozilla Firefox, follow these steps:

  1. Right click in the search field at the top of the page, and select "Add a Keyword for this Search".
  2. Enter "Wikipedia Quicksearch" for the name.
  3. Enter "w" (without the quotes) for the keyword.
  4. Change the bookmark folder if you wish, and click "Add".

In Mozilla Suite, Netscape 6/7 and Beonex Communicator, follow these steps:

  1. Right click on the following web address and select "Bookmark this link": http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Special:Search?search=%s
  2. Go to Bookmarks, Manage Bookmarks. Choose the bookmark you have just created. Highlight the Bookmark and click Properties.
  3. In the dialogue that comes up, put a lowercase w in the keyword box.
  4. Click OK and close the properties box, then close the bookmark manager.

To search, go to the web address bar, enter "w SEARCH_QUERY<i>" (without the quotes), and press enter.

Search Wikipedia via an update to prefs.js

Works with: K-Meleon.

K-Meleon has a search button that can be used to search Google. Wikipedia can also be searched. To switch search engines do these things:

  1. Close K-Meleon.
  2. Open up prefs.js with a text editor. The file should be in your K-Meleon\Profiles\PROFILE_NAME\RANDOM_STRING.slt\ directory.
  3. Add this line, and save prefs.js.
user_pref("kmeleon.general.searchEngine", "http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Special:Search?search="); 

Open up K-Meleon and press the search button to search Wikipedia. To go back to Google or to use another search service, edit prefs.js and delete this line:

user_pref("kmeleon.general.searchEngine", "http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Special:Search?search="); 

Make sure K-Meleon is closed before editing prefs.js.

Advanced: Wikipedia search field for Opera browser

Both Opera 6 and 7 use a customizable text file called search.ini. This file should only be edited while Opera is not running. The following example replaces one of the existing pre-defined search engines. It is up to the user to avoid conflicts of shortcut key (key=). By default 'w' is taken by the download.com search, so either this or the Wikipedia one should be changed. Furthermore the 'Search Engine ##' should be replaced with a free number: '12' is free by default. The Search.ini editor makes editing trivial (see external link).

[Search Engine ##]
Name=&Wikipedia
URL=http://www.wikipedia.org/w/wiki.phtml?search=%s
Query=
Key=w
Is post=0
Has endseparator=0
Encoding=utf-8
Search Type=8

Most importantly, in 7.0, you should back up your customized search.ini because the file is overwritten by the Opera installer. This is no longer true in 7.10 and later.
In Opera 6 and 7.0, the menu accelerator letter is defined by the & in the name. In current versions the accelerator is automatically generated and may no longer be the same as the key.

More information (External Links)

7.50 Preview

With the current 7.50 Preview a new kind of search has been added, which no longer requires manual editing. This will create a button on the mainbar, which can then be put anywhere you wish, even in the start panel.
See http://members.chello.nl/b.kroonspecker/opera/buttons.html for two Wikipedia search buttons and more info.

Searching with TomeRaider

After downloading the Wikipedia:TomeRaider database one can search the Wikipedia version offline. One can also search for parts of words.

Searching the page history

To search the text that appears only in the page history, you must export the text to XML format first.

If you cannot find an appropriate page on Wikipedia

If there is no appropriate page on Wikipedia, consider creating a page, since you can edit Wikipedia right now. Or consider adding what you were looking for to the Requested articles page. Or if you have a question to be answered by Wikipedia, ask it at the Reference desk.

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