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The Search Function: Getting Results - An Illustrated Tutorial
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Old 08-12-2006, 11:15 PM   #1
Arrow The Search Function: Getting Results - An Illustrated Tutorial

A problem that I believe many newer members encounter is a lack of results from only doing a "basic search". This results in our receiving a large number of threads that are probably not very relevant to our subject. It can become very time consuming to go through all of these threads looking for answers to our questions.
In order to get good results when searching, the first thing we need to learn is how to do more than a basic search. There are thousands of threads on this forum. When we do a search, we want to find the threads that have the most specific information related to our subject of interest.

Let’s jump right into it:

NOTE: It will be best if you open up two windows in your web browser. One can be used to view the tutorial, and the other can be used to try out the search techniques for yourself.


Notice how there is an option for an advanced search when we click on the search link on the homepage?

This time click it and it will bring you to a new and wonderful page. Unless you only have seconds to locate information, this is the page you should be utilizing when searching for information. The page you see before you now will become a best friend to you, if you learn a few basic things. The following is a quick and easy to follow tutorial on how to use this search page. Hopefully, after reading this and doing a few searches on your own, you will become very comfortable and efficient with searching.

It’s important to realize that if we click on advanced search and right away type in a keyword and hit the “search now” button, we are still just doing a “Basic search” because we are searching for our keyword to appear anywhere within an entire post and for that post to be anywhere on the entire forum. We haven’t yet changed any settings.

Why do we bother with the advanced search?
Searching for information is all about weeding out all the junk that isn’t going to give us what we want. There are several different ways to do this. If we learn these ways of searching, we can find the information we need.

Note About Spelling: Obviously, spelling our keywords correctly is very important to success. If were are misspelling the word we are searching, we are not likely to get the results we want.


The first thing we can do to limit our search is to select a specific forum to which we want to restrict our search. So we type in our keyword cohabitation and then turn our attention to the bottom right of our screen.
Now we consider our subject of interest. Cohabitation is a subject related to housing and care of snakes so it seems logical that a majority of the best information about cohabitation should be in the “Husbandry and Basic Care” sub-forum. So we click on that option (highlighting it) and then click “search now”.

Example Search of Specific Sub-Forum

We can already see that our search results are much different than if we did a basic search of the entire forum. All of our results are from the Husbandry sub-forum, so a lot of the riff-raff is gone.

What we notice at this point is that still very few, if any, of the threads in our results actually have our keyword in the thread title. This tells us that these threads are most likely not dedicated to the subject and are therefore less likely to be helpful to us in our search for info on cohabitation.

TIP: Although these results are often not as dedicated to our subject of interest don’t discredit them too much. Occasionally, if we can’t find the info we want when we do an even more restrictive search we will come back to these results and mill through the posts to see if we can’t find info that helps us out.

TIP: We can also search two or three sub-forums at once if we desire. In the bottom right hand corner of our “advanced search” page click on one of the forums you want to search and then drag the mouse down or up to highlight one or more sub-forums. Alternatively, once you have clicked on one of the sub-forums and it is highlighted, press (and hold) the shift key and then use the up/down arrow key to select one or more sub-forums to search.


Now it’s time to restrict our search even further. To do this we are going to specify that only threads that contain the word ‘cohabitation’ in the title be displayed in our search results. To select this option we click on the drop-down menu (below the box where we type in our search term) and simply click the “Search Titles Only” option. We also still want to limit our search to threads only in the Husbandry sub-forum.

Example of Searching Titles Only

Search results don’t get much more specific than one thread!

Since we only returned one result with this search, and therefore may not have gotten as much info as we need about our subject of interest, we can go back and select the option that allows us to search all forums. However, we still want to return only those threads that contain our keyword in the title so we don’t switch that setting.

Doing a search in this way tends to expand our search a bit, but still returns the threads that are the most closely related to our subject.


Since we are searching for information about cohabitation, after exhausting our search efforts on the keyword ‘cohabitation’ we can see that we still don’t have much information unless we want to go back to using a “basic search” (Basic Search For Cohabitation ) and spend untold amounts of time sifting through all 100 threads for all the obscure, useless references to cohabitation.
This can be quite tedious and I try to avoid it. How do we avoid it and still get the info we need?

We change our keyword!

Think of all the different people who use this forum. Think of all the different terms and phrases they can use which either specifically mean or imply the term ‘cohabitation’. When a member starts a new thread they aren’t thinking about creating a useful title so that we can come along months or years later and easily locate their thread when we search for information. Now we just have to think up other keywords or phrases that will be useful for our search. This is something that you get better at with time. Once you’ve been a member for awhile you get the hang of what types of words and phrases people are likely to use.

Since we are interested in cohabitation we are going to try these new words/phrases:
Co-habitation (Yes, the only difference is that this one has a hyphen, but it can sometimes make the difference between no results and lots of info)
Housing together
Housing two snakes
Living together
Two snakes

Try to use more specific words/phrases first and then the ones that are more basic. It is important to still restrict these searches to the forums that our info is most likely to be found. If we have no luck, we can always back out and do a search of the entire forum rather than specific sub-forums.

Here are a few of the results we get when we do these searches in only the Husbandry sub-forum with the “search titles only” option selected.
Co-habitation: Example Search For Co-Habitation
Housing together: Example Search For Housing Together

Notice how we get threads directly related to our subject of interest:

You just have to play around with different keywords and different settings.

TIP: If we put parentheses around our phrase we get more specific results.
"Housing Together": Example Search For "Housing Together"
Old 08-12-2006, 11:16 PM   #2
Part 2


This tool is very straightforward. You are simply looking for posts or threads made by a specific member of the forum. This is useful if you really respect a particular member’s opinions and advice and want to find other posts/threads by them. It is also helpful in pesky situations like when you can remember that a particular member had a really good thread a few months back, but you just can’t remember the title of it. You can search their username and find it much more easily.

For the sake of shameless self-promotion I’ll use my own username for this tutorial.

Let’s say that I think I have some really swell looking snakes. I can search for any thread that I have created in the photo gallery.

Example Search By Username

Or I can read all the comments I’ve given someone else’s snakes by selecting to search for all posts I’ve made in the photo gallery.

I can do this for any post or thread I have made in any one of the sub-forums by restricting my search to any particular sub-forum just as I showed you before.


We can also use a keyword and username at the same time.

Example Search By Keyword And Username


You’ve probably noticed by now that there are even more options to the bottom left of search page. These tools allow us to restrict our search even further than before in any number of ways. I won’t go into detail about what all you can do. If you’ve made it this far, it won’t take you long at all to look through those other options and figure them out all on your own.

TIP: You really don’t need to mess with all the extra options on the bottom left to get good results. Personally, I have never once used them and am very effectively able to locate information every time I do a search.

The one feature that is probably the most useful is the very first option. Obviously, in most instances, it would do us no good to do a search and find threads that have zero replies. Since the info and advice that we seek is usually in the replies and not the original post, it can’t hurt us to set this number to 1 when we do our searches.

That should pretty much cover the basics of advanced searching. It’s not a hard thing to grasp. Just give it shot and in no time you will feel very comfortable with searching.

For the time being this thread will be left open for replies. If you have any questions regarding searching or this tutorial, you may place them in this thread. You’re also always welcome to send me a PM, if you would rather go that route. As long as I’m around, I am happy to help out with anything I can.

Good luck!

I want to say a big "Thank you!" to all those who read over this and gave me advice and opinions on how to improve it.
Old 09-05-2006, 04:21 PM   #3
very very nice.. about time someone spent time to do this
Old 06-09-2007, 04:43 PM   #4
=O I quite agree! Well done on this!
Old 02-16-2010, 12:35 PM   #5
Hi, great work!!!

When I click on the searching examples in post1 and 2 it said: Sorry - no matches. Please try some different terms. for all of the examples
Old 08-18-2013, 06:35 AM   #6
I tried the advanced search but I don't know what t put where it says tag.

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