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MozillaWiki Handbook
Software help for MozillaWiki — see page histories for older versions.
Handbook Contents | Other help

This page explains how to search the wiki for what you are looking for

Other languages: [[Da:Wikipedia:Hvordan s%F8ger jeg i Wikipedia|da]], de, sv zh


Contents

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.

list of all pages

Please note that a-z come after A-Z.

For some other namespaces, see Help:Namespace.

Go button

See also Help:Go button.

Search field

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.


Tips

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.

See Help: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 a page with a stop word as title. Searching for the combination of one or more words and the common word "not" give 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.

Boolean search possible

You can use the words "and", "or" and "not" and parentheses in order to formulate more complicated requests. If none of those words is specified, "and" is used by default. For instance, "indian not american" will return all pages that contain the word "indian" but don't contain the word "american". The search "(Adolph or Adolf) and Hitler" will return all pages which contain "Hitler" and either "Adolf" or "Adolph".


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 MediaWiki User's Guide: Creating special characters.


phrase

To search for a phrase, enclose it in double quotation marks.

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 an 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.

Search Options

Namespaces searched

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, and the titles, but only of those images which have an image description!

The URL is

http://meta.wikimedia.org/wiki/Special:Search?ns0=1&ns1=1&ns2=1&ns3=1&ns4=1&ns5=1&ns6=1&ns7=1&ns8=1&ns9=1&ns10=1&ns11=1&ns12=1&ns13=1&ns14=1&ns15=1&searchx=Search&limit=100&search=qqq

where "qqq" is used as example for the search term, and 1's can be changed into 0's for excluding namespaces.

Thus, e.g.

http://meta.wikimedia.org/wiki/Special:Search?ns0=0&ns1=0&ns2=0&ns3=0&ns4=0&ns5=0&ns6=0&ns7=0&&ns9=0&ns10=1&ns11=1&ns12=0&ns13=0&ns14=0&ns15=0&searchx=Search&search=test

searches the Template and Template talk namespaces for "test", and

http://meta.wikimedia.org/wiki/Special:Search?ns0=0&ns1=0&ns2=0&ns3=0&ns4=0&ns5=0&ns6=1&ns7=0&&ns9=0&ns10=0&ns11=0&ns12=0&ns13=0&ns14=0&ns15=0&searchx=Search&search=jpg

searches the image description pages for "jpg".

(Also there is a special search feature Special:Imagelist, which searches in titles, regardless of whether there is an image description.)

Searching with the URL above does not work if the search term exists as a pagename in any namespace!

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 wikitext is searched

The wikitext (source text, what one sees in the edit box) is searched. This distinction is relevant for piped links, for interlanguage links, special characters (if ê is coded as ê it is found searching for ecirc), etc.

Secondary search

After finding the pages, these pages are searched again to have the results show in red in the context lines; this search uses a more relaxed criterion: search terms occurring in the wikitext, even as part of a word, are shown in red.

Oddly, sometimes no context is shown.


Search engines

Google

The URL

http://www.google.com/search?q=site%3Awikipedia.org+%22interwiki+link%22

searches for the phrase interwiki link in wikipedia.org — that is, in all Wikipedias as well as Wikisource (sources.wikipedia.org) and meta.wikipedia.org, but not meta.wikimedia.org.

%3A is a colon (:), %22 a double quotation mark ("), and + is equivalent to a space ( ); %20 may also be used for a space. (See also Help:URL.)

Note that the underscore (_) is not equivalent to a space: putting it in the URL results in a search for a word containing actual underscores at those positions. Thus

http://www.google.com/search?q=site%3Awikipedia.org+%22interwiki_link%22

finds pages containing the term interwiki_link.

Administration Options

from includes/DefaultSettings.php, apperantly you have to look up your namespace table, because they are numbered...

$wgNamespacesToBeSearchedDefault = array( -1 => 0, 0 => 1, 1 => 0,
  2 => 0, 3 => 0, 4 => 0, 5 => 0, 6 => 0, 7 => 0, 8 => 0, 9 => 1, 10 => 0, 11 => 1 );

I would guess that -1 is the default settings.. and 0 is main namespace.. and 0 is off and 1 is on.

See also

Help contents

Reading: Go | Search | URL | Namespace | Page name | Section | Link | Backlinks | Piped link | Interwiki link | Redirect | Variable | Category
Tracking changes: Recent | (enhanced) | Related | Watching pages | Page history | Diff | User contributions | Edit summary | Minor edit
Logging in and preferences: Logging in | Preferences | User style
Editing: Overview | New page | Images/files | Image description page | Special characters | Formula | Table | EasyTimeline | Template | Renaming (moving) a page | Automatic conversion of wikitext | Talk page | Testing
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