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Since this site is about English usage, the standard search engine for the site which filters out "stop words" is going to be problematic since many of the questions on the site will be about stop words.

Obviously just eliminating the stop list isn't going to be a practical solution, but maybe there would be a way to allow indexing stop words if they are in quotation marks by themselves, or if they are italicized by themselves. In those cases, it is pretty clear that they are being use as words qua words and are contentful, and not as typical function words that deserve to be filtered out of search indexes.

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    The search box here is powered by the same mechanism as all SE sites, so this really needs to be asked on meta.stackoverflow.com.
    – Richard
    Commented Aug 13, 2010 at 15:26
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    @Richard: it has been asked a few times there, but got ignored or outright rejected. I have a feeling we should wait until we're out of beta before asking again.
    – RegDwigнt
    Commented Aug 28, 2010 at 13:32
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    I asked again anyhow because I don't think anyone had clearly explained how this limitation harms the site. meta.stackexchange.com/questions/62660/…
    – nohat Mod
    Commented Aug 28, 2010 at 18:50
  • What is a "stop word"? Do you mean operators used in searches?
    – Lawrence
    Commented Dec 13, 2022 at 18:31

2 Answers 2

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It would be helpful to have separate "stop-word" database for each site (or at least for sites where the StackOverflow stop words are no good). An example of a stop-word that would be useful on the English site is "vs". If you try to search for something containing "vs" in the search string, you will get a load of un-relevant hits.

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Update: I just ran across an old question (in the main English SE) regarding just this. For those facing the predicament of searching for stop words, the answers given there might offer some useful avenues to pursue: Can't search for a question about "that" and "which". The answers there are summarized below, for immediate reference.

One answer (from Jeff Atwood, two months after that post) suggested a Google search option; the details of the SE search interface have since changed (in that answer, the interface included edit fields that drew from several external search engines), and so the exact method used there no longer applies, but the approach itself is still an option for those readers who haven't seen it before (e.g.: entering {apples oranges site:english.stackexchange.com} into the Google search field).

Another answer (from Robert Cartaino, on the same day as the posted question) suggested the Related Questions option as being useful:

I find the "Related Questions" search extremely helpful for finding questions. Click on the Ask Question link and type in the title as clearly as you can remember it. The "Related Questions" will often do a much better job at finding the question than the native search tool.

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  • I'm unsure what you are saying. Are you saying that google indexes -with- stop words, so you can search there rather than the SO builtin search?
    – Mitch
    Commented Dec 10, 2022 at 20:48
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    @Mitch I believe that what Jeff (whose answer I quoted) was saying was that one could use Advanced Search Tips (I could be misinterpreting his intention, since the tool that one can now click at the top of the search results page in order to access logical functions with which to narrow one's search parameters differs from the one in his picture: the modern one doesn't have the pic's individual search engine fields, for example). The tool seems to have evolved since then, but yes, one can use Google [directly] in that manner (e.g.: {apples oranges site:english.stackexchange.com}). Commented Dec 10, 2022 at 21:04
  • Why post an image to a solution that you yourself said is defunct? If the suggestion is to search stop words using Google or other search engines, that's hardly a breakthrough. Looking at the "related" side panel is, trust me, unreliable but sometimes it does help. You're better off using the tags which-that and relative-clauses. The same can be done for words such as "a", "an" and "the" in articles
    – Mari-Lou A
    Commented Dec 10, 2022 at 22:58
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    @Mari-LouA I quoted the answer because to re-word it and claim it as my own would be disingenuous, but I think that you're right in that the quoted answer should be cut down to only the material that's still relevant, which I'll correct now (the original answer could still be accessed by the link, but I have to leave that as citation). The answers from the cited page might not be new to some, but will be to others, and having them here in this thread seemed to be relevant. Commented Dec 10, 2022 at 23:16

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