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I think that it might be useful to add somewhere advice about other possibilities how to search. (I am not sure what would be right place, but it would be nice to have it somewhere where new users who are reading through help could notice it.)

I think that it is useful to know that apart from the built-in search it is possible to use also some external search engine to search on this site. Specifically, I think it would be worth mentioning that it is possible to use Google with parameter site:math.stackexchange.com. And Approach0 seems to be very useful for formulas. (I am less sure whether also possibility to "search through ask dialogue" should be mentioned, although this is quite useful in some situations, too.)

Another possibility would be to make a dedicated post on meta collecting basic information about search - and then add a link to this post. But this would probably be less efficient that directly adding this information in the help center - since it is less likely that somebody displays information if they need to click and go on another page to see it.


Another question is that if we decide that this information should be added somewhere, what would the right place for it be. It me the part of help center dedicated to searching seems like a reasonable place: How do I search?

Adding something like that directly to the How to ask sidebar would be a bit distracting. (You can see how it looks currently in this answer or simply by going to the ask page.)

In the help on asking questions it is mentioned that users should search first. This gives a link directly to the built-in-search. In fact, this link is given there twice. Would it be perhaps reasonable to change one of those two links to https://math.stackexchange.com/help/searching? (Especially if we add the information about other possibilities for searching to the latter.)

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  • $\begingroup$ I have added (feature-request), since basically I am suggesting modification of some items in help-center. In case this is incorrect usage of the tag, feel free to remove it. $\endgroup$ – Martin Sleziak Nov 25 '17 at 14:27
  • $\begingroup$ I agree with Stella, (Yes we should) and have upvoted to indicate so. It only seems consistent that when we insist that askers search the site before asking a question, we work in any way to facilitate that search. $\endgroup$ – Namaste Nov 25 '17 at 21:11
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I think that this is a good suggestion and that we should add this information to the help center. I think that knowing how to use google parameter searches is an important part of using this site to its full functionality. On a related note, it might be useful to directly provide that functionality to users. I’m not sure if this is something we can do with the main search bar on the site, but many sites have a radio button for “search using google” which would redirect to a parametrized google search on the inputted info.

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    $\begingroup$ I will point out that the help-center in the part about Voting is different on meta explicitly says: "On posts tagged feature-request, voting indicates agreement or disagreement with the proposed change." So if users actually vote on meta in accordance what the help-center says, than already votes on the question serve the same purpose as your answer. (Of course, assumption that people actually read help and behave accordingly is probably overly optimistic. So this answer probably helps to isolate votes for/against more clearly.) $\endgroup$ – Martin Sleziak Nov 26 '17 at 2:08
  • $\begingroup$ @MartinSleziak The typical behavior in meta in my experience is for that to apply to answers, not questions $\endgroup$ – Stella Biderman Nov 26 '17 at 2:09
  • $\begingroup$ @StellaBiderman : From my experience this applies to question, whenever it is tagged "feature request". Also, to set up a voting users tend to post two answer ("Yes" or "No") instead of one. $\endgroup$ – user99914 Nov 26 '17 at 5:30
  • $\begingroup$ You have added remark about possibility to including Google search into site's interface. Maybe something like that would be more suitable as a separate feature request - and probably on meta.SE, since it is relevant to all sites in the network. I have searched a bit, but I found only this past discussion related to this issue: Should SO include a custom Google search?. $\endgroup$ – Martin Sleziak Nov 26 '17 at 15:50
  • $\begingroup$ @JohnMa Thanks for the feedback, I’ve changed my post to indicate agreement and include a substantive suggestion as wel. $\endgroup$ – Stella Biderman Nov 26 '17 at 15:51
  • $\begingroup$ Still it's worth mentioning that there are some workarounds. If you are using Chrome, you can try suggestions from here: Fast way to search stackoverflow.com using google. There is also "Search with Google" among these bookmarklets. I can confirm that it used to work, but for some reason it does not work at the moment for me. (Maybe somebody can check whether this is ony my local issue.) $\endgroup$ – Martin Sleziak Nov 26 '17 at 15:52

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