Help talk:Searching

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Initial text adapted from en:Wikipedia:Searching --Maveric149 04:55, 7 Sep 2003 (UTC)

Search Results[edit]

In the newest mediawiki version, how do you show the relevancy of the search results, like this page or does?

Update Delay[edit]

The section "Delay in updating the search index" could use a bit more information about how to control this delay.

Customizing Search Page[edit]

Can anyone tell me how to customize the search page? For instance, the default page doesn't allow for "create a new article" if the search comes up empty. Basically instead of the default search page I want something similar to wikipedia's. Post here to letme know, I'll check back.

Visit your local Special:Allmessages search for the message and edit it. --Flominator 09:08, 4 August 2006 (UTC)

Answer to Customizing Search Page[edit]

I don't know why this was so difficult to find an answer for. I have been searching for the past few months. The answer is actually very easy...
See the talk page for Nogomatch.

Now for a more difficult question... How do you customize the entire page?
Getting rid of "No text match" and everything below. Additionally, how do I add a Google toolbar?

all short words dropped?[edit]

The text suggests that you shouldn't use common short words, but a quick test suggests to me that all words less than 4 chars are dropped. Can anyone confirm this? Can anyone suggest how this might be controlled? (BTW, the word I tested with was scp)

I can confirm this. I have a coworker whose first and last names are under four letters, and you can't find him by searching. One article we have says (name is changed here) "Joe Li and his boys." Searching for Jo or Li or "Jo Li" fails to find anything, but a search for boys finds the page just fine. Any solution in sight? -- Adam Katz 22:15, 22 Jun 2005 (UTC)
Change the MySQL configuration to index shorter words. Search the docs at to find the exact secret config settings for this. --brion 23:49, 22 Jun 2005 (UTC)
Found it, thanks, brion! .. posting at Help:Short words in searches -- Adam Katz 21:16, 23 Jun 2005 (UTC)

But what about a 'word' which includes a minus sign? On our wiki a lot of designations like 'DS-4' exists, but although there are four characters, the search option refuses to find them. But more "strange" things happen here: let's say we have an article named "Design DS-4". Searching for just "DS-4" will not find it, ever. Searching from the search bar on the left goes to , but no result. Searching from the search page goes to and again no result. But when I remove this &searchx=Search from the URL bar, it does find the page I'm looking for. At first I thought it had to do with the minus sign, (all pages which include 'DS' -which is too short- but not include '4'), but why did it find this page then in the last instance? I've already been looking for an explanation on this (on meta and mediawiki), but couldn't find anything.

Taking a wild guess from the URLs you posted, could it be the name spaces? I recall seeing a mention of setting the default search to look in all or only some areas...

Boolean search?[edit]

Searching "email" I get a load of results about email notification, which is not what I wanted, so I think, no worries, and search "email not notification" and, contrary to the info on this page, I get the same results, nearly all about notification. Is the Boolean search broken?

Can't alter default namespaces to search[edit]

The suggested use of wgNamespacesToBeSearchedDefault does not work for me. Changing ns6 (Image: for me) to 1 still doesn't do anything differently, even for non-logged in sessions. ... This is with MediaWiki 1.4.4, PHP 4.3.11, MySQL 3.23.58, Apache 2.0.52-3.1, Fedora Core 3, as well as MediaWiki 1.4beta6, PHP 5.0.3, MySQL 4.1.10, Apache 1.3.33+ssl. Changing includes/DefaultSettings.php also fails to alter the namespaces to be searched by default.

Solution: Despite the apparent preference to specifically alter the default ns's to search (wgNamespacesToBeSearchedDefault), modifying wgDefaultUserOptions works just fine, so to default to searching categories, do this (I'm not sure if you need to include the true defaults or if this replaces them ... my LocalSettings.php explicitly sets every namespace):

$wgDefaultUserOptions = array(
  searchNs14 => true,   # Category:

Note, namespaces are defined by number at Help:Namespace#List of namespaces, and current users will not see the change. You will have to modify every existing user account to include other namespaces using the MySQL command at the end of Meta:FAQ#How do I change default user preferences?

-- Adam Katz 16:56, 2 May 2006 (UTC)

How to search for HELP information on specific topic?[edit]

There seems to be a search command to look for pages with a string in the name, but I don't see any search command to look for help on some topic. For example, currently I can't find help about how to send a message to somebody. When I connected to the documentation, I saw a notice that I had a new message from Patrick, and when I clicked on the link I found myself inside my IP-number discussion page: and so I was able to see what he wrote to me, and add some new comments and questions of my own. Also I followed the link with his name to find his discussion page, where I added a section but in the wrong place. Is there any way to just send a message to Patrick so it ends up in the right place on his discussion page? Is there any way to go to a HELP search page, type in the keyword MESSAGE, and automatically be directed to help on how to send messages to another user? Is there any such help page anyway? Is there any such message feature at all?

I added a link in the header template for searching in the help pages, and added some explanation on this page.--Patrick 12:49, 16 July 2005 (UTC)

Searching for a phrase[edit]

There is no method for searching for a phrase. Contrary to what you might expect, enclosing phrases in double quotation marks such as "can of tuna" will retrieve all pages containing "of" "tuna" and "can".

Contrary to what this says, I have successfully been able to search for a specific phrase by using the underscore, eg. can_of_tuna... Blockinblox 13:45, 2 October 2005 (UTC)

Delay in updating the search index[edit]

Since there is delay for search index to be updated, perhaps it is a good idea for put the information about the last time of search index got updated. Borgx 03:05, 30 November 2005 (UTC)


Why is this page protected?Jake Remington 19:40, 5 January 2006 (UTC)

Because there is some kind of troll who keeps replacing it with the name of some town in North Carolina, okay... Blockinblox 22:16, 5 January 2006 (UTC)
Is semi-protection enabled here? --Ssd 16:59, 12 January 2006 (UTC)

Can you search for urls?[edit]

If you enter a url in search, will an external link be found? ··gracefool | 23:26, 21 February 2006 (UTC)

it looks like the answer is no. i'm currently trying to find all the urls that link out from my wiki to our http file host so i can change them. [it's moving to a new location] searching for the beginning of that url up to the file name brings up nothing.

it is rather sad that this question was asked in 2006, and there was not a single reply to it . . . Zee 15:25, 13 May 2010 (UTC)

See Help:Linksearch.--Patrick (talk) 23:29, 14 May 2010 (UTC)

Search result page option?[edit]

Newbie question ... Sorry if it has been answered somewhere ... By default, it seems the search feature returns the page with exact name (if exists) that matches the search text. Is there any configuration to always return the list of all pages with names containing the search text instead? Thanks. --Elo0000 21:17, 22 March 2006 (UTC)

Redirects not Appearing on Search Results[edit]

I know there is a checkbox that lets me exclude or include redirects from the search results... but I'm trying to manage a company of users for whom that checkbox is, by default, deselected. Is there some way to change all my users so that they will find redirects when searching? When I log out and log back in again, or even just perform a new search, the "include redirects" box becomes unchecked. Magically. Arrgh.

My users are using the search term, "Upgrade" and they can't find the "Server Upgrades" page, even though I've created a redirect named "Server Upgrade". Upgrade is used for other things, so I can't just make it a redirect (and a stub would get really messy and difficult to maintain).

Suggesting page for 'How best to search or spider mediawiki-based systems'[edit]

I'd like to suggest a page for 'How best to search or spider mediawiki-based systems' which I've already created at How best to search or spider mediawiki systems. On this page, I'd like to collect suggestions for configuring external search engines, such as HtDig, on how to efficiently spider and index mediawiki-based system. I currently have mediawiki installed on an intranet site for my organization. It's fairly small, less than a couple of hundred pages overall. However, htdig spiders over 150,000 pages when it indexes the site, runs out of memory and crashes and burns. Can anyone tell me how to edit the article page to add this text and link? Thanks. -Kevinz

Can't customize Search in namespaces to be on top?[edit]

Or can you? I've been aggravated by this when trying to find answers to my Medawiki questions: if I want to limit/expand my search to the "Help" and Help: Talk" namespaces, I have to scroll to the bottom. Is this a Wiki philosphy thing? ;-)

Can Searching be Improved?[edit]

I find that the current search in MediaWiki is rather ineffective. It often does not find what I am looking for. Can a better search be preformed, e.g. using google? - JohnE

Yes, you can use Google to search a site: adding to your query will restrict results to that particular MediaWiki. Organizations can buy a Google Search Appliance to implement full-text site search with Google's notion of ranking; but it's usually an uneasy fit with database restrictions like searching a particular namespace unless you do significant engineering integration. -- skierpage 20:48, 24 April 2006 (UTC)

Bugzilla number[edit]

No. 2895 should be corrected to no. 3679. It seems that the Boolean word NOT does work. Anyway, this page should be unprotected. --Eleassar my talk 10:27, 17 June 2006 (UTC)

Administration blurb needs little help[edit]

They should point people to includes/Defines.php to see where the constants are defined and use those instead of the raw integers. Can also mention that assigning each item is better than redefining the whole array, e.g.:

$wgNameSpacesToBeSearchedDefault[NS_MAIN] = true; $wgNameSpacesToBeSearchedDefault[NS_MAIN_TALK] = false; etc.

-- Nofxjunkee 11:32, 15 July 2006 (UTC)

Tracking search phrases?[edit]

I wonder if there is a way to find out what search phrases are being entered by users -- specifically, phrases that don't have an exact corresponding page to return, but do have a "close enough" match that the user should be redirected to the page rather than being prompted to create a new one on virtually the same topic. For example, if half of the user population searched for "soda" and the other half searched for "soft drink" I would want to be able to detect that this was happening instead of having the search engine tell half the population that no matches were found and that they should create the page.

Link to a specific Google search[edit]

On Wikipedia's Wikipedia:Searching page, I added a sub-section: How to provide a link to a specific Google Search. This probably should be added here as well.

A minor issue with the software, re the approach of using a plus sign, +, to replace spaces in the search field... it works fine in Wikipedia, but when I try to do it here or in (also MediaWiki) it doesn't work. Word or phrase searches work fine, but as soon as I put in a plus sign, it doesn't create a link, but just shows the google:XYZ+ABC in nowiki format. It still has the same problem as Wikipedia, that it turns spaces into underscores (which hopefully can be fixed at some point...) -- Singkong2005 (Wikipedia user page) 00:20, 16 August 2006 (UTC)

The google link in interwiki link style works fine for me.
I wonder what the hyphen does:
all give different results.--Patrick 08:12, 16 August 2006 (UTC)
I posed much the same question on the Wikipedia help desk, and got a good answer:
The trick is to replace inter-word spaces in the interwiki link's search terms with ALT+0160 (no breaking space) oops, make that  . Incidentally, it is possible to search the Wikipedia Help desk with Google's custom search:
For example, this search finds my question about Google search. --Teratornis 19:49, 5 March 2007 (UTC)
Thanks, Patrick for correcting the Help desk archive. The character to replace the inter-word space character in the interwiki link with is  , the HTML character code for a non-breaking space. --Teratornis 02:01, 6 March 2007 (UTC)
Thanks for the answers.
Patrick - a hyphen specifies that the words occur in that order - so it's like putting the words in quotation marks. --Singkong2005 11:17, 22 March 2007 (UTC)
Thanks. (I think it was different before.)--Patrick 12:32, 22 March 2007 (UTC)

Relevance Calculation?[edit]

--Bilbous 04:31, 27 October 2006 (UTC) How is it that in Wikipedia there are 5 pages of assorted Jennings and whatnot returned for the search jenness before on the sixth page the first jenness Diamond Jenness is returned at 60.2% Should not a clear match return 100%? The very first hit for jenness leads to the jennings disambiguation page listed at 100% without a single jenness on the page. Perhaps there is only one page with the name Jenness on it although that page does link to others. Still a clear miss should not be reported as an exact match.


how is it calculated? -- 00:37, 11 December 2006 (UTC)

Given two user groups and two custom namespaces, how do you ensure that the search by one user group fetches results from only the first namespace and the search by other user group fetches results from only the second namespace?[edit]

Restrict Search to Category[edit]

Is it possible to restrict a search to articles within particular categories? If not, I think this would be a nice feature.

Evidently not with MediaWiki's built-in search. A semi-approximation might be possible for public wikis if you use the advanced operators of w:Google. For example, see this attempt to search within w:Category:Cycling on Wikipedia. I don't think it quite works, but it may be a start. --Teratornis 19:26, 5 March 2007 (UTC)

Inclusion of redirects[edit]

The text implies that the search of redirects is on per default. The default mediawiki install though doesn't search for redirects, and it can't be turned on via http:// /wiki/index.php?title=Spezial:Preferences Modifying includes/SearchEngine.php is not working either...

is a search for a short keyword giving no hits?[edit]

By default, MediaWiki uses MyISAM's fulltext matching functionality to allow searching page content. The default settings for this mean that words of less than four characters won't be indexed, so results won't be returned for those queries.

To alter this behaviour, MySQL needs to be reconfigured to index shorter terms, and MediaWiki's search index table needs to be repaired, to rebuild the indices.

For help on reconfiguring MySQL, see To repair the search index table, run the query REPAIR TABLE searchindex; against your database

See also Searching#all_short_words_dropped 07:50, 27 March 2007 (UTC)

Searching with numbers fails?[edit]

We have a lot of things in our wiki that look like the following: abc01defg3h4

Strangely enough, when searching for abc01*, nothing is returned. However, searching for abc* does return results. Is this by design? --Chris 20:12, 6 June 2007 (UTC)

partial word search[edit]

How do I match partial words for example I would like to find all pages that have the word engineer. I tried engineer* and in quotes but i get no match. However I can type engineering and get many match pages.

partial word search should work with wildcards. It uses mysql full text search [1].

Images in search results[edit]

Can the search results page be edited to show an image from the page?