While looking over some material concerning "separable differential equations", I remembered a conversation I had (via comments) with another MSE user and wanted to find said conversation.

I specifically remember him calling referring to "separate and integrate" as the "orangutan method" of solving such equations (hah!). Not surprisingly, searching orangutan yields no results.

So is there are way to include comments in the search parameters?

(Before posting this, I found the discussion with Google's help... is Google the best way to perform such searches?)

  • 5
    $\begingroup$ A good question! A useful feature would be the ability to do a search in our own activity history. I have been here only since early June, and it is already 43 pages. $\endgroup$ Oct 17, 2011 at 20:26
  • $\begingroup$ @Jyrki, to which history are you referring? I see 7 pages of answers on your profile. $\endgroup$ Oct 17, 2011 at 20:37
  • $\begingroup$ The history of my 'activity'. Not the history of answers on the 'info'-page. It lists all my answers and revisions and badges as markers only, but the comments are there verbatim. $\endgroup$ Oct 17, 2011 at 20:52
  • $\begingroup$ Ohhhh. I see what you're talking about. Thanks! $\endgroup$ Oct 17, 2011 at 21:02
  • 10
    $\begingroup$ Using Google with site:math.stackexchange.com usually does the job for me. $\endgroup$
    – t.b.
    Oct 17, 2011 at 23:08
  • $\begingroup$ I did not know that it is possible to limit a google search to range over a single site only. But I found a promising box in their advanced search -window, and it seems to work. Thanks @t.b. ! $\endgroup$ Oct 18, 2011 at 4:20
  • $\begingroup$ Related: How to browse or search comments? $\endgroup$ Jun 4, 2017 at 8:39

1 Answer 1


Stack Exchange's built-in search is limited to questions and answers. Comments are second-class citizens by design; they're not meant to have information with any lasting value, which is why SE developers don't put any effort in making them more searchable.

You can use a web search engine, such as Google. On Google, add site:math.stackexchange.com to limit the search to this site (including meta); other search engines (yes, they exist) tend to have a similar capability. For example, orangutans site:math.stackexchange.com finds your comment (and will find this meta thread soon after I post).

If you know who posted the comment, you can look at that user's comment activity (sorted by date). For example, these are your recent comments.

If you still can't find the comment you're looking for, you can turn to methods that involve a bit more familiarity with computers, if not outright programming.

The Stack Exchange API allows a number of queries. In particular, you can search for comments within a date range, comments on a given set of posts, or comments by a given user (optionally restricted to those addressed to a given user). You can retrieve up to 100 results per query (specify 100 as the value of the page parameter), and use your browser or a text editor's search command on your computer to locate the precise comment you're interested in. For example, the URL http://api.math.stackexchange.com/1.1/users/7850/comments?pagesize=100 retrieves your 100 most recent comments; the next ones are at http://api.math.stackexchange.com/1.1/users/7850/comments?pagesize=100&page=2.

If you don't remember who posted the comment, and it's not a very recent one, then you can turn to the Stack Exchange data explorer. This is a read-only copy of the SE database, updated roughly once a month. Searching it requires knowing some SQL (specifically Transact-SQL). Browse existing queries first. There is already a query to search through all users' comments. Note that the search is case-sensitive, so you need to search Orangutan or rangutan, you won't find your comment by searching orangutan. You can use the character % to stand for any substring (e.g. a search for Or%tan finds many comments including that Orangutans one), and _ to stand for any one character.

  • $\begingroup$ Thanks for the info! $\endgroup$ Nov 6, 2011 at 0:02
  • 7
    $\begingroup$ Like it or not, comments at m.se often contain a great deal of value. $\endgroup$ Nov 6, 2011 at 4:28

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .