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

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.

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.

Limiting results

As opposed to Google, Memory Alpha default search mode will turn up results with any of the words in your query. For instance, search engine turns up many results containing only "search" but not "engine" or only "engine" but not "search" in addition to the ones you probably wanted, which contain both words.

To limit to results that include all words, put a "+" at the beginning of each word: +search +engine returns only pages containing both words, like Google's default mode.

You can also do a phrase search by enclosing words in quotes: "search engine" turns up a smaller set of results, which not only have both words but have them in order.

To exclude results that include some word, put a "-" at the beginning: search -engine

Avoid short and common words

If your search terms include a common "stop word" (such as "the", "one", "your", "more", "right", "while", "when", "who", "which", "such", "every", "about", "onto"), it will be ignored by the search system. If you're trying to do a phrase search or all-words-only search, this may result in returning nothing at all. 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.

Search is case-insensitive

The searches for "fortran", "Fortran" and "FORTRAN" all return the same results.

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 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.

Namespaces searched by default

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.

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, also called wiki text) is searched. This distinction is relevant for piped links, special characters (if ê 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.


If you cannot find an appropriate page on Memory Alpha

If there is no appropriate page on Memory Alpha, consider creating a page, since you can edit Memory Alpha right now. Or consider adding what you were looking for to the Requested Articles page.


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