Help:MediaWiki search

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This page gives detailed information about using MediaWiki search on subject wikis.

Note that MediaWiki search in a given subject wiki searches only that wiki.

For more information on general search help, refer the pages: wikipedia:Wikipedia:Searching and Wikipedia:Help:Searching.

The search bar

The search bar appears at the top of the left-hand sidebar in every page, right below the logo (or logo region). Below the bar are two options: the "Go" button and the "Search" button.

Search suggestions

As you type queries into the search bar, a drop-down menu appears with a list of suggested completions. These completions include all pages whose name begins with the string typed so far. These suggestions are called "AJAX suggestions". As a logged-in user, you can disable these suggestions by clicking through "My Preferences", selecting the "Search" tab, checking the "Disable AJAX suggestions" box, and saving.

There may be a limit on the number of completions shown, based on settings at the server or client end. Thus, the list of completions shown for a partial string should not be treated as the entire list of completions.

The go button

The search default is that after you type a search query and press "Enter", the "Go" button is activated (the reason the "Go" button appears darker than the "Search" button is because it is the activated option). The "Go" button proceeds as follows:

  • First, it looks for an article with an exact title match. If an exact title match is not found, a very similar title match (that is the same, except for some uppercase-lowercase differences) is determined. If such a match is found, you are taken directly to the article. Note that the search is not completely case-insensitive, even though it may overcome slight differences in case.
  • If this fails, a regular search is performed, the way pressing the "Search" button would have achieved.

The search button

The search button invokes a regular MediaWiki search. The MediaWiki search results page has the following structure:

  • The top of the page lists alternative links to "all pages starting with" the search term, and to "all pages linking to" the search term. These alternative links are useful in some cases.
  • Below this, there is a section titled No page title matches. This states that there is no page with the exact title, and links to relevant resource pages within that wiki that offer other search features, as well as things to bear in mind while searching on the wiki.
  • If there are partial page title matches, these matches are listed under a section called Page title matches. Following this section is a section titled Page text matches, that finds matches within the page text.

Other options

Controlling the appearance of search results

There are three parameters that individual logged-in users can change in the appearance of search results. These include:

  • Hits per page: This controls the number of hits that appear on one search page.
  • Lines per hit:
  • Context per line:

Search namespaces

Every wiki has a collection of default namespaces to search in. All subject wiki search in the main namespace, as well as in the category namespace, the help namespace, the project namespace, and some other namespaces. As a logged-in user, you can change the namespaces you want searched by default by modifying them in the "search" tab under "my preferences". If you want to alter the namespaces being searched for a given search, go to the Special:Search page of the wiki.

Operators in search

The only operator allowed in the version of MediaWiki currently running is quotation marks, which search for entire strings. Some operators have been introduced in the newer version of MediaWiki, that is currently running on Wikipedia. These include intitle search, prefix search, wildcard and fuzzy search, and corrections for mis-spellings. We hope to provide these features and many more in the near future, once the new version is officially released.

Further information: Wikipedia:Wikipedia:Searching