This article provides a detailed overview of Wikipedia's search feature, and instructions on using external search engines, such as Google, to find information. For a short introduction to searching Wikipedia, see Look it up.
Here are some really good tips and hints for using the Wikipedia search feature effectively:
Avoid short and common wordsसंपादन
If your search terms include a common "stop word" (such as "the", "your", "more", "right", "while", "when", "who", "which", "such", "every", "about") it may give a large number of non-relevant results. Historically, these words could not be searched at all, but as of February 2006, Wikipedia's Lucene index does not use "stop words", so any word can be successfully used in search queries.
You can use some limited wildcards if you really want to. See Boolean fulltext search for details on their use. However, wildcard searches are slower, so go easy on the poor server.
Words with special charactersसंपादन
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 quotesसंपादन
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 the name Mu'ammar can be found only by searching for exactly that (and not otherwise). A word with 's is an exception in that it can be found also by searching for the word without the apostrophe and the s.
Namespaces searched by defaultसंपादन
The search only applies to the namespaces selected in the user's 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.
The source text is searchedसंपादन
The source text (what one sees in the edit box, also called wiki text) 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 ê is coded as ê it is found searching for ecirc), etc.
Delay in updating the search indexसंपादन
For reasons of efficiency and priority, very recent changes are not always immediately taken into account in searches.
Multi-lingual Wikipedia searchसंपादन
- You can do a multi-lingual Wikipedia search using Google Advanced Search or entering site:.wikipedia.org in the Google search box.
- Lumrix: AJAX driven Wikipedia search engine. Supports other languages such as German, Spanish, or French.
External search enginesसंपादन
Various search engines can provide domain-specific searches, which lets you search Wikipedia specifically. Searches are based on the text as shown by the browser, so wiki markup is irrelevant. Depending on your browser, you may also be able to use tools that allow you to search Wikipedia using bookmarklets.
In general, external search engines are faster than a Wikipedia search. However, because the search engine's cache is based on when the site was indexed, the search may not return newly created pages. Similarly, the search engine's cached version of the page will not be as up-to-date as the link to Wikipedia itself. Also, when returning Wikipedia articles in a regular search, mirrors and forks of Wikipedia content frequently rank higher than the actual Wikipedia articles because of search engine optimization techniques.
These issues may be less of a problem when using certain search engines that process Wikipedia differently:
- Yahoo! includes Wikipedia as part of its content acquisition program and gets a regular datafeed.
- Clusty downloads and processes the database regularly, generating automatic abstracts and image thumbnails and meaningfully parsing redirects, disambiguations, and categories.
- Qwika only indexes wikis, and thus mirrors do not appear in their results.
By following the link below, you can use the Clusty search engine to search and cluster Wikipedia in English only.
If you frequently search via Clusty, consider installing the Clusty Toolbar (beta). Selecting the "Encyclopedia" search source allows you to quickly search the English version of Wikipedia. The Clusty Toolbar is available for Windows with Internet Explorer and Mozilla Firefox (beta).
By following the links below, you can use the Google search engine to search Wikipedia - either all languages, or English-only. Google indexes all namespaces.
If you frequently search via Google, consider installing the Google Toolbar. Using the "search this site" button allows you to quickly search the English version of Wikipedia. The official Google Toolbar is for Internet Explorer (Windows and Mac) and for Firefox (works on all operating system platforms for which Firefox is available, such as Windows, Linux and Mac OS X).
Wikipedia markup allows you to insert links to Google searches by including google: as the prefix for the link. This can be useful on talk pages, and sometimes in External link sections. It is done like this:
Which looks like this:
Note: It is important not to use spaces in the search. To add more parameters to the search, separate them by a plus sign, +. For a phrase search, use a hyphen (minus sign), -, between each word. E.g. to search for "Tip of the day", use Tip-of-the-day.
To provide a link to a Wikipedia-specific search, include in the google-link +site:en.wikipedia.org (no spaces before or after), like this:
Which looks like this:
To clean up the link so that only the part you want to show is presented, use the pipe, like this:
- [[google:Tipster+site:en.wikipedia.org|"Tip of the day"]]
Which makes it look like this:
LuMriX is a dynamic query tool which uses lookahead to predict search terms in a list, similar to Google Suggest.
By following the link below, you can use the LuMriX search engine to search different language versions of Wikipedia.
If you frequently search via LuMriX, consider installing the LuMriX Firefox Search Plugin (works on all operating system platforms for which Firefox is available, such as Windows, Linux and Mac OS X).
There is a full-featured advanced search engine at Lycos UK. It is more powerful than Wikipedia's search box, and you can limit searches to a specific URL, such as the Wikipedia website. Here's how. Click on the provided link above, and then enter your search term. Then scroll down to the domain section and add "wikipedia.org" in the box provided. Then click "Go".
Qwika is designed specifically to index wikis. Its main index is Wikipedia. It includes:
- all namespaces of Wikipedia
- English machine-translated into German, French, Japanese, Italian, Dutch, Portuguese, Spanish, Greek, Korean, Chinese and Russian.
- The above languages machine translated into English.
This can assist editors contributing to non-English Wikipedias by being able to search in their own language across the entire English version and then view the machine-translated version in their language.
Wikiwax is a dynamic query like LuMriX. It only searches English Wikipedia, but shows more list entries.
By following the links below, you can use the Yahoo! search engine to search Wikipedia - either all languages or English-only.
If you frequently search via Yahoo!, consider installing the Yahoo! Companion Toolbar. Using the "Search Only the Current Site" button allows you to quickly search the English version of Wikipedia. The official Yahoo! Companion Toolbar is only for Windows with Internet Explorer and Mozilla.
Here are more Wikipedia:Tools which make searching more convenient.
JAMESTOWN BUISNESS COLLEGE
Searching with TomeRaiderसंपादन
After downloading the Wikipedia:TomeRaider database one can search the Wikipedia version offline. One can also search for parts of words.
If you cannot find an appropriate page on Wikipediaसंपादन
If there is no appropriate page on Wikipedia, consider creating a page, since you can edit Wikipedia right now. Or consider adding what you were looking for to the Requested articles page. Or if you have a question, then see Where to ask questions, which is a list of departments where our volunteers answer questions, any question you can possibly imagine.