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Before I ask a question, I always search with the "Search Q&A" box to see if there is already a question and answer about the topic. When there is no question, I start a new question, but often the question I was trying to find shows up in the "Questions that may already have your answer" section!

Here is an example I just encountered today when I was going to ask a question about a feature in Europa Universalis IV.

Conventional search

Search box - 0 results

New Question

(entering the same title):

question is found

The third result here answered my question.


Why does the "Questions that may already have your answer" tool work better than the conventional search tool?

If the search can't be upgraded, I think this option should be included in the conventional search.

  • 3
    The main search is a keyword search with filter. The new question search is something of a natural language search. It's not that one search is better than the other, it's that they're different. BTW, [europa-universalis-4] hotkey next province finds the question you were looking for, and only that question (plus an answer), and in fact, you don't even need the tag. – MBraedley Mar 15 '16 at 21:58
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    I must admit I generally try the 'new question' search if I'm looking for something that I can't remember the title of. I only use the regular search for stuff I remember but need a link to, or to do funky things with tags and filters – Robotnik Mar 15 '16 at 23:14
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    I agree that the regular search sucks. – DCShannon Mar 16 '16 at 17:57
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I found by luck a similar post on the Meta StackOverFlow network.

There is an interesting answer:

I dont think this is mysterious at all. If you consider the search "Finding the next sibling that matches a query" then the first hit contains all the search phrase words in the body. If you perform the same search in "Ask Question", the result is those questions that contains most of the search words in the title.

So regular Stackoverflow search primarily searches in answer or question bodies. "Ask Question"-search searches in question titles only.

The title search is not nessecarily "so much better", but seen from a questioners point of view the title search will more frequently match what the questioner is about to ask.

I do not think SO should change this procedure. Finding questions with matching or similar titles may prevent duplicates, and is a great last minute tool for the questioner. But for the common searching user, looking for a good answer, a reduced title search would be useless.

However, I do think SO should improve their "advanced search". You cannot replicate the "Ask Question" search with title. title seems to accept one single word only. Example title:finding gives 18784 results - title:finding the returns 0 results

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