How to search the forums

Lady Athyna



How to Search the Forums

Many times we get a topic posted with the comment "I searched but couldn't find it." When it comes to some of the most common topics (Server Consolidation, Power Customization and the like,) it's hard to believe it hasn't been run across. So, I thought I'd try to help out.

The search screen

The search screen is split in half. On the left side, you can select "Forums to search."

By default, if you click on "Search" from a forum (such as Suggestions and Ideas,) that forum will be automatically selected. You can keep that selection, select a different one by clicking on a different forum or grouping, or select multiple forums. (Shift+Click for a range, Control+Click for specific other forums.)

Selecting a single forum (Suggestions and Ideas) or forum heading (*Development*) is usually all you need.

On the right hand side, you limit your search.

Keyword search terms:
This is what you're looking for. Keep it as simple as possible. (For instance, "Server consolidation" can also be "Server merging," "Combine the servers," or something similar. What do they all have in common? "Server." Put that in.)

Below that, you see two radio buttons - "in subject" or "In subject and body." By default, "In server and body" is selected. Since you want to search for a suggested idea, and those are typically mentioned in the topic, limit your search a bit - click on "In subject."

Why is it like that?
Most likely to give the greatest number of results. Unfortunately, if you searched on "Server" trying to find "Server consolidation" with it searching the body as well, you'd get comments like "On my server, blasters are the most popular" and "I ran my own NWN server, I know what coding is!" which have nothing to do with what you're looking for.)

Search tip:
When you search by title, you're going to get the main post and all the replies. Why? Becaues they typically share the same title - people rarely re-title the suggestion. To limit your search and give you the greatest number of unique topics matching your search, add the following to the end of your search:
-"re: "

That's a minus sign, quote, re:, space, quote. When you do this, add a plus sign in front of the terms you want.

This will eliminate all replies from the search result (you'll still be able to read the thread.)

So, if I want to see if anyone's suggested server consolidation, server merging or the like - anything to do with servers - my search box will look like this:

+server -"re: "

Search tip
Pick your terms to give the widest range of results. For instance, Power Customization could mention Customizing, Customization, Customise. The search looks for a string of characters, not a word - so if you're looking for customization, use "Custom" as a search term.

So, say I wanted to look for Power Customization. Before posting, I'd say "Well, how else could this be said?" Varying ways of saying it?
"Let us customize our powers."
"Custom animations for powers"
"Powers should be customizable!"

Ugh, that's a mess. I can put in ALL those variations on "Customize" (since they aren't all preceded by "Power") or I can type in:

+Custom -"Re: "

And it will search on anything with the string C, U, S, T, O, M in it - yes, it can bring up Customer Service as well in the result list, as it shares that string.

Username search:

This can be used in combination with the search terms (for instance, you know SuperDude made a post on Positrons Codpiece. So search on "Codpiece" as a search term, with Superdude in the Username Search box.

Search tip:
This is *really* handy, especially in guides, to see all a user's started topics - put the username in, and put in -"re: " in Keyword Search Terms.

Date Range:
This is probably what kills most searches. Nobody changes this, it seems. By default, it's set to 1 Week. While that's great for some things... looking up actual ideas for the Suggestions forum? Nope. I'd recommend 1-3 months.

You can also look for items *older* than something, or limit a beginning or ending date.

For topics like server consolidation - 1 month should be good. For powerset ideas, I'd go for 3 or so.

Result format:
It can't show more than 100 per page. And that's what I set it to. Even at 200, you get 100 on the first page.

"Show a preview of post body with results." (Checkbox.)

This will show two lines of text from the beginning of the post. Purely personal preference.

Get all that?

Putting it all together

To see what I mean, let's do a test search. I'm going to be an ebil egotistical high-post-count forumite here and have you search for guides I've written in the Player guides section.

Step 1:
Click on "Search."

Step 2: Select forum
For "Forum(s) to Search," select "Player Guides."

Step 3: Keyword Search Terms
Just type in -"re: " in the text box. Beneath it, click on "In Subject."

Step 4: Username search
Type in memphis_bill - capitalization doesn't matter. Spelling does.

Step 5: Date range.
I've been here a bit over two years. Type in "30" under "newer than," and change "Weeks" to "Months"

Step 6: Result format
I don't have that many, so the default of 25 is fine. You can pick "Show a preview" if you want.

You should now see eight topics (if I don't write something else by the time you try this.) At least two of those are out of date. They're ordered from newest to oldest (the oldest with a date of 1/1/06, a guide to fighting Lusca that's... out of date.)

if you got that, congrats! If not, well, go back to "Search" and see what you missed.

Hopefully this will help you - remember to check using the "Search" function. There may be a relevant discussion already ongoing - or you may find the pros and cons for your idea already laid out.



I can't think of how to word it, but something about letter requirements, you know, how the search engine doesn't recognize 2 letters but does recognize 3 letters? Something about that.

I just wonder if someone would search for IO's and find nada.



Used to be an issue with searching on short words - you couldn't search for "Ice," for instance... IO is too short though.



Excellent. Never thought about using -"Re: "

Your guide discusses using the minus sign but never delves into using the plus sign or quotes and what that all means.

The other search guide is here. ZealotOnAStick talks about those other search features. Since Zealot never updated his guide and since his last post was Sept '05, I think it would be great if you would incorporate all his info into your guide and thus we would have one comprehensive and updated guide to forum search.

The only thing I will add which is in neither search guide is that the list of forums to search through follows the windows' shift and ctrl click rules, namely:

If you click an item in the list and then shift+click another item, both items and all the items inbetween will be selected. This way, you can select a range of contiguous forums.

If you ctrl+click an item, it will toggle the item to be selected or not. This way, your search can be limited to several non-contiguous forums.

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This should be stickied to the top of all forums.

Thanks Memphis_Bill!!

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