- 1 Search facilities in MediaWiki
- 2 Tips
- 3 Searching limitations and Gotchas
Search facilities in MediaWiki
This page explains the search button for the search box which appears on every page, and the "Search result settings" section in the preferences.
The [Go] button appears on all MediaWiki pages in the standard skin, next to the [Search] button. The function of the [Go] button is to display a page directly, instead of first having to select it from the search result page. In other words, it allows you to quickly navigate from page to page without following links.
To view a page, just enter its name in the search field and click [Go]. The [Go] button is more complex than it looks. It works as follows (each time, only continuing if there is no match):
- Check existence of the page exactly as it is entered, e.g. "Test Page" and "Test page" are different pages (but most projects have case-insensitivity of the first character of the whole page name, and in the case of a namespace prefix, of the first character after that).
- Try all lower case (with the first letter capitalized), e.g. if you type "TEST PAGE", "Test page" and not "Test Page" would be displayed.
- Try the version with all words capitalized.
- Try the all upper case version.
- Carry out a full text search as if you clicked the [Search] button.
If you use the [Go] button wisely, it will allow you to quickly jump to your most frequently used pages. It is also a good idea to use it for unambiguous searches — if a direct match fails, it will always fall back to the normal search anyway, and if it succeeds, you are immediately taken where you want to go. In general, the go button generates little server load, and therefore usually remains functional even if the fulltext search is deactivated for performance reasons.
A special feature is that applying [Go] on an IP number gives the user contributions of that IP.
Depending on the contents of Nogomatch there may be a link to the edit page of the non-existent page. A useful side-effect is that this allows going conveniently to a page on another wiki, by adding the interwiki prefix, albeit that the text "create an article with this title" would not be accurate for the link, in the case of an existing page. Also the CSS-class of the link is "new", not "ex4tiw".
Pressing the [Enter] key while the search field is active is equivalent to clicking on the [Go] button. While this is obvious when using Internet Explorer (tested on version 6), Mozilla (version 1.6 at least) provides no such indication.
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 pages, 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.
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 Help:Special characters.
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".
Searching limitations and Gotchas
No regular expressions or wildcards
You cannot use regular expressions or wildcards such as ? or *. If you don't know what that is, don't worry about it. To search for pages with the words "boat" or "boats" search like this: "boat or boats".
Words in single quotes
If a word appears in a page 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 pages, for which this problem does not arise.
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.
Delay in updating the search index
For reasons of efficiency and priority, very recent changes to pages are not always immediately taken into account in searches.