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Updates to How We Search

Dopp April 26, 2012 User blog:Dopp
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Wiki search is more than just a quick way to get to a particular page -- it’s also a tool for exploring, browsing, and discovering content. We know that the search tool is a critical component for any wiki, so we’re working hard to raise the quality of our search experience this year. You can expect more updates in the coming months as we adjust our interface and improve the technology behind our search results.

To kick off this series of updates, we’re starting with two simple changes that may affect how you use the search field on your wiki:

1) Exact match searches will now go to search results pages instead of to article pages.

2) If an exact match article is available for a search, it will always be the top result on a search results page.

Why? Well, there are a few reasons. The first is that taking a user to an article when they’re trying to run a search can be limiting. If someone is searching for term on a wiki, there’s a reasonable chance that there’s more than one page that might attract their interest. Search results pages give readers choices, and encourage them to explore.

The other important benefit of this change is that it will provide us with significantly more data on what people are actually looking for when they search for keywords, and we’ll be able to use this data to continually improve the quality of our search results.

But what about those of us who rely on search to take us directly to articles?

The article suggestions that appear as you’re typing in the search box will still take you directly to an article page if you click them. For those of us who like to navigate by keyboard, this just means an extra key stroke (the down arrow) while you’re typing -- and often, you won’t even need to finish the word before it suggests the right page for you.

We know that changes to how you navigate a wiki can be disorienting at first, so we appreciate you taking the time to understand our reasons for this change, and thanks for giving it a chance. We’ll have additional updates about more improvements to search soon!

UPDATE 4/27/12: Known Issues
  • This update changed the "go" button in Monobook, as well. Fixed!
  • It's not currently possible to access Special: pages through search. We're researching options. (Tip: add tools you frequently use to your toolbar.) Fixed!
  • Redirects and shortcuts do not currently bring up the right search suggestions in the dropdown (but they do present the correct page in the search results). We're looking into improvements for search suggestions.
  • Searches for redirected page titles don't mention the name of the redirect in the top result. Fixed!
  • Redirects to sections of pages don't work in search.
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