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I remembered that someone had posted a question as "Yet another question on entropy" so I searched for entropy. The search engine recognized "entropy" as a tag and searched for questions with the tag. The OP, however, did not use entropy as a tag. Instead, the tag was physical-chemistry. Consequently, the question did not appear in the results.

Is there any way to make the search work in cases such as this? (I will add the entropy tag to the question later...).

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    $\begingroup$ Well, I guess we discover that "Another question on entropy" is a horrible title not just for the humans, but for the search engines as well. Not a big surprise, I'd say. $\endgroup$
    – andselisk Mod
    May 27 at 13:05
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    $\begingroup$ @andselisk it looks so clickbaity. Imagine being an author and naming a book: "Yet another good book" ;) $\endgroup$ May 27 at 13:09
  • $\begingroup$ I've had the same problem, if I understand what you mean: the search automatically focuses on posts that use the tag "entropy" when it shouldn't? $\endgroup$
    – Buck Thorn Mod
    May 27 at 15:21
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    $\begingroup$ On the other hand, it shows entropy triumphing yet again! ;-) $\endgroup$
    – Ed V
    May 28 at 1:29
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    $\begingroup$ @EdV That is appropriately meta. $\endgroup$ May 28 at 2:27
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    $\begingroup$ I never found any single thread I've looked for, except using Google. $\endgroup$
    – Alchimista
    May 28 at 11:52
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    $\begingroup$ I wanted to vote up the triumph of entropy but apparently I don't have the right to. So here it is. :) $\endgroup$
    – Alchimista
    May 28 at 13:25
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Is there any way to make the search work in cases such as this?

In such a scenario, all you need to do is specify the information inside double quotes. In this case, "entropy" tells the system. "Do not look for the tag entropy, instead look for posts which have the keyword entropy.

enter image description here

Further experimentation shows that the system looks for a tag with a similar name first and displays the tag hits if there is a common tag, (searching for physical chemistry, displayed search results for the tag [physical-chemistry]) failing which it looks for the keywords as specified within search. ("entropy worked as a search result as well.) It disregards quotes and other special characters when it displays the search results.

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Is it a bug, or is it a feature?

Fortunately, the search engine is quite flexible and it is designed to serve the context of what you are looking for; (it used to be a whole different kind of beast;) which is in this case, questions about entropy, but not necessarily containing the word entropy.
This behaviour seems to be a rather silly at first, because asking a question about entropy without using the word entropy is hard; really, really hard.

Usually, the combination of a meaningful title and appropriate tags should give you a good enough clue and should give you relevant information first. That is how most engines are designed for. After all a full text search gives you plenty of results, but are they any good.

The issue is an underlying one, especially in sciences. In our field we tend to ask about the things that have specific terms, which will eventually be part of the question. Therefore plenty of tags will also appear as plain text in the questions or even the titles. It is really hard to avoid that.

The search engine is not really built for chemistry, and the defaults are not made for veteran users. If you use the goggles engine, you'll have no clue how it'll serve you the relevant content; at least here it'll tell you.

Well back to actual content, troubleshooting. I've mentioned before that the engine is flexible. It's features aren't even that hidden. I'll recommend: How do I search?

Here are some of my favourites:

  • user:me - a list of all the great contributions of the most important user *wink*
  • title:question - buzzword; honestly though, it is a nice tool if you remember a word of the title
  • body:wrong - It's always a little bit funny in which contexts this appears.
  • score:9..9 Looking for some votes to spend …
  • is:question - all questions, only questions. Use it with the score operator for maximum enjoyment.
  • "literal" - Safdar mentioned this; not one of my favs, but I include it.

Okay, you'll get the gist.

I have tried wildcards, not a fan though. It works mostly, but offers a few false positives.

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