Searching on Wikipedia

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The following instructions are for the old slow search. The new faster search is less powerful and works very differently.

Here are some things to keep in mind when using the Wikipedia search box that appears at the bottom of every page.

  • Unlike most search engines, a search for "Turing homosexuality" will not return all articles that contain the two words. It will return all articles that contain the phrase "Turing homosexuality", and of course there are none.
  • Another notable difference is that there are no implied boundaries around the search pattern. "utter" will not only find the word "utter", but "rutter", "utterance", ... as well. To force a word boundary, use "\b", as in "\butter\b" which will only find the word "utter".
  • Search is case insensitive: searches for "Natural Number" and "natural number" or even "NATURAL NUMBER" are all equivalent.
  • To find all articles which have a link to the "natural number" article, you would search for "\[\[natural number"
  • To find all articles which contain one or both of the words "Turing" and "homosexuality", you can search for "Turing|homosexuality".

  • To find all articles which contain the words "Turing" and "homosexuality" in that order, you could search for "(?s)Turing.*homosexuality". If you only searched for "Turing.*homosexuality", then the two words would have to appear in a single line of the article's wiki source, or in its title.
  • In article titles, spaces are converted to underscores. So to find all articles with "natural number" in their title, you could search for "natural_number". If you search for "natural number" instead, you'll get all articles which have the string "natural number" in their body text, not in their title. Most likely, the article with title "natural_number" will of course contain the string "natural number" in its body.

Questions for the esteemed readership:

  • Does anybody know how to search in article titles only?