Encyclopedia > Wikipedia:Searching

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Please note that a-z come after A-Z, e.g. Wikipedia comes after WikiWiki.

Sometimes Wikipedia's internal full-text search facility is temporarily disabled to relieve server strain. In that case one can still search in page titles (but in the main name space only!). For a full-text search one can use Google.

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Google search of Wikipedia By following the link below, you can use the Google search engine to search Wikipedia. Google silently ignores stop words and indexes all namespaces and all language Wikipedias. A search phrase is possible.

Google updates its index about once a month, the search is based on the contents at that time!

The search is based on the text the browser shows, not on the source text which is seen in the Wikipedia edit box.

When Wikipedia is slow, searching through Google is faster. After finding an article one can choose to view the current version or the cached one (the older version, but again it may be faster).

Alternatively one can search a term or phrase within the web site Acapedia (of which each page redirects to the corresponding wikipedia page) through Google. The cached version is neater (it does not have the problem that Google text interferes with the top of the article text; it is more or less the "Printable version"). Unfortunately the cached version does not show the revision date.

Either of the two may happen to have been more recently cached by Google. This could be a reason to check both.

Use Google to search Wikipedia (http://www.google.com/custom?sa=Google+Search&domains=wikipedia.org&sitesearch=wikipedia.org)

Use Google to search Wikipedia through Acapedia (http://www.google.com/custom?sa=Google+Search&domains=acapedia.org&sitesearch=acapedia.org)

The first of the two links also searches many other language versions (those also on wikipedia.org), including Dutch, German and French, but not those on wikipedia.com, which include Afrikaans, Frisian and Italian.

Search facility of Wikipedia (sometimes disabled)

These are some hints about the search box that appears on every Wikipedia page (see also Wikipedia:User preferences help, "Search result settings" section, and Wikipedia:Go button).

All search terms must be present Only pages that contain all the words exactly as you typed them in will be returned. So if you didn't get any results, leave out one or more terms, or make sure that all search terms were spelled correctly. Furthermore, if you searched for "Horse", then articles that contain "Horses" but not "Horse" won't be shown.

This is no longer true. Results with all terms will be returned preferably, but partial results should show up as well, further down in the list.

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 articles, will also not be found. In this case, drop those words and rerun the search.

See Wikipedia: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 an article with a stop word as title. Searching for the combination of one or more words and the common word "not" gives 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".

Boolean search is temporarily disabled until performance problems are resolved. It should be back soon in a slightly different form using MySQL 4's built-in boolean search capability. --Brion 19:30 Jan 31, 2003 (UTC)

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 articles with the words "boat" or "boats" search like this: "boat or boats".

Words with special characters In a search for a word with a diaeresis, such as Sint Odiliënberg, it depends whether this 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 Wikipedia:Special characters.

Words in single quotes If a word appears in an article 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 articles, for which this problem does not arise. See the manual of style for more info.

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.

Only main namespace is searched by default The search only applies to the main namespace (those articles without "wikipedia:" or "talk:" or "user:" in front). The main namespace contains the encyclopedia proper. 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.

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 source text is searched The source text (what one sees in the edit box) is searched. This distinction is relevant for piped links, for Wikipedia:interlanguage links (to find links to Chinese articles, search for zh, not for Zhongwen), special characters (if is coded as ê it is found searching for ecirc), etc.

Delay in updating the search index For reasons of efficiency and priority, very recent changes are not always immediately taken into account in searches.

Multi-lingual search There is a meta-search available that allows you to search different language Wikipedias at the same time.

Multi-lingual Wikipedia search (/tools/wikisearch.php)

See also above, under "Google search of Wikipedia".

Using Mozilla to automatically search Mozilla, Netscape 6/7, Beonex Communicator, and Phoenix have a feature called search plugins, allowing the sidebar to automatically access a search engine. You can automatically install the plugin from the Mycroft project (http://mycroft.mozdev.org/download) by searching there for "Wikipedia".

Here are ways to search Wikipedia with Mozilla-Based browsers:

1: Search Wikipedia from the Sidebar search tab or web address bar: - Works With: Mozilla, Netscape 6/7, Beonex Communicator, Mozilla Firebird

Mozilla, Beonex Communicator, and Netscape 6 & 7 come with a sidebar that allows a user to search the Wikipedia site. To do this:

Go to Mycroft (http://mycroft.mozdev.org) and search for the Wikipedia plugin. There are versions for many languages, so pick the language local to your area. If you want to, you can download the english Wikipedia plugin here (http://www.joshuaholman.net/writings/wikimoz/wikipediamycroftsearch.zip). The file is 1.13 KB and is ZIPped.

Place the plugin(s) you downloaded in your /searchplugins/ folder. To make Wikipedia your default search engine (This works in Mozilla, Beonex Communicator, and Netscape 6/7. It does NOT work in Phoenix): Go to

Go to Edit, Preferences. Expand the Navigator tree and choose Internet Search. Choose Wikipedia as your defalt search engine. With Wikipedia selected as your default engine, searches can be conducted via the search sidebar tab, search box, or the web address bar.

2: Search Wikipedia from the Wikipedia search Tab - Works With: Mozilla, Netscape 6/7, Beonex Communicator

Wikipedia can also be searched via a sidebar tab of it's own. To install the tab, click the link below:

Click here (http://www.joshuaholman.net/writings/wikimoz/install) to add the Wikipedia search sidebar.

When installing, JavaScript needs to be enabled (This can be done by going to Edit, Preferences, expanding the Advanced tree, and checking the Navigator box under the "Enable JavaScript for" section.)

3: Search Wikipedia using a bookmarklet - Works With: Mozilla, Netscape 6/7, Beonex Communicator, Mozilla Firebird

Wikipedia can also be searched via a bookmarklet. To do that, do these steps:

Go to this web address: /w/wiki.phtml?search=%s. Bookmark the site.

Go to Bookmarks, Manage Bookmarks. Choose the bookmark you have just created. Highlight the Bookmark and click Properties.

In the dialogue that comes up, put a lowercase w in the keyword box. Click OK and close out the properties box. Now close the bookmark manager.

To search, type w SEARCH_QUERY and press enter.

4: Search Wikipedia via an update to prefs.js - Works With: K-Meleon

K-Meleon has a search button that can be used to search Google. Wikipedia can also be searched. To switch search engines do these things:

Close K-Meleon.

Open up prefs.js with a text editor. The file should be in your K-Meleon\Profiles\PROFILE_NAME\RANDOM_STRING.slt.

Add this line:

user_pref("kmeleon.general.searchEngine", "/w/wiki.phtml?search=");

Save prefs.js.

Open up K-Meleon and press the search button to search Wikipedia. To go back to Google or to use another search service, delete the line

user_pref("kmeleon.general.searchEngine", "/w/wiki.phtml?search=");

and follow the first three steps. Make sure K-Meleon is closed before editing prefs.js.

Advanced: Wikipedia Search field for Opera browser. Both Opera 6 and 7 use a customizable text file called search.ini. This file should only be edited while Opera is not running. The following example replaces one of the existing pre-defined search engines. It is up to the user to avoid conflicts of shortcut key (key=) and menu accelerator letter (& in name).

[Search Engine 12]
Is post=0
Has endseparator=0
Search Type=8
Position sets the position of this search on the personal bar, with 0 being the first position and -1 for disabled. Most importantly you should back up your customized search.ini because the file is overwritten by the Opera installer.

More Information (External Links)

Searching with TomeRaider After downloading the Wikipedia:TomeRaider database one can search this Wikipedia version of 7 May 2003 offline. One can also search for parts of words.

All Wikipedia text is available under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License

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