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This article provides an overview of OpenTutorial's search feature, as well as using external search engines, such as Google, to find information.

OpenTutorial search

The searchbox provides an input field with two buttons:

  • Go - the Go button (or Enter on the keyboard), will take you automatically to the best match for the entered keyword.
  • Search - the Search button will return a list of matching results.

Effective searching

Here are few good tips and hints for using the OpenTutorial search feature effectively:

Limiting results

  • Any word: OpenTutorial's 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.
  • All 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.
  • Exclude words: To exclude results that include some words, put a "-" at the beginning: search -engine

Boolean search is also possible, using words including "AND", "OR", and "NOT".

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") it may give a large number of non-relevant results. Historically, these words could not be searched but as of February 2006, OpenTutorial's Lucene index does not use "stop words", so any word can be successfully used in seach queries.


You can use some limited wildcards if you really want to. Look up "fulltext search" on and look down under 'boolean search' for the details. However, wildcard searches are slower, so go easy on the poor server.

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 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 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.

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 searchers

At the moment, the search engine uses an index that isn't updated at all.

External search engines

Various search engines can provide domain-specific searches, which lets you search OpenTutorial 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 OpenTutorial using bookmarklets.

In general, external search engines are faster than a OpenTutorial 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 OpenTutorial itself. Also, when returning OpenTutorial articles in a regular search, mirrors and forks of OpenTutorial content frequently rank higher than the actual OpenTutorial articles because of search engine optimization techniques.

These issues may be less of a problem when using certain search engines that process OpenTutorial differently:

  • Yahoo! includes OpenTutorial 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 links below, you can use the Google search engine to search OpenTutorial - 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 OpenTutorial. The official Google Toolbar is for Internet Explorer (Windows only) and for Firefox (works on all operating system platforms for which Firefox is available, such as Windows, Linux and Mac OS X).


By following the links below, you can use the Yahoo! search engine to search OpenTutorial - 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 OpenTutorial. The official Yahoo! Companion Toolbar is only for Windows with Internet Explorer and Mozilla.


Qwika is designed specifically to index wikis. Its main index is WikiPedia. It includes:

  • Nothing as of yet but hopefully soon OpenTutorial will be indexed


By following the link below, you can use the Clusty search engine to search and cluster OpenTutorial.

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 OpenTutorial. The Clusty Toolbar is available for Windows with Internet Explorer and Mozilla Firefox (beta).

If you cannot find an appropriate page on OpenTutorial

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