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Special User Sections > Site/Forum Features

A Practical Guide to Forum Search

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Search with confidence, not frustration.

Introduction forum search (codename Zillarank) is, in our opinion, superior to that comes with the official SMF package, in numerous aspects including:

* Completedness of results
* Relevance ranking
* (Irrelevant) noise reduction
* Ease of use
* Power user options
* Productivity enhancements
* Speed
We designed it with the hope to offer you the best forum search experience that you don’t get from other forums.

This guide is intended to introduce you to forum search system and ways to maximize your search effectiveness and productivity.

Part 1
Basic uses of search: Quick Search

Part 2
Narrow and refine: Advanced Search

Part 3
Effortlessly adjust search parameters

Part 4
Productivity enhancements

1. Expand/fold-able result summary
2. Viewing all matching posts in a topic with one click
3. Sort search results live

Quick Search -- the most straightforward way of searching the forum.[/i]

To use Quick Search on forum:

1.   Find Quick Search box near the top-right of the browser window.


2.   Type in keywords to search

3.   Limit the scope of your search in the drop-down menu, if necessary.

Entire Forum: Searches in all boards and posts on the forum that you are entitled to view. It is the default choice.

This board: searches only within the board you are currently browsing. Sometimes forum search returns more results than desired from your search and in such cases it might be a good idea to isolate your search*.

This choice only becomes available when you are browsing a specific board or topic.

This topic: searches only within the topic you are currently viewing.

This choice only becomes available when you viewing a specific topic.

Members: searches forum member list, this comes in handy when you are looking for a member to donate to. ;)

Help Desk: searches Help Desk -- great place to find help on forum and specific programs hosted on DonationCoder.

Entire Site: searches entire site with Google site search.

Forum search doesn't find anything outside the forum (obviously), Google site search will help you search our release programs, reviews, specials, member blog, etc.

Note: Google is not particularly good at indexing our forum posts, so I recommend using our native forum search function for finding topics.

4.   Click on the Search button to activate the search.  :P

* forum employs active board ranking heuristic, which ranks higher (not necessarily all on the top) matching topics that are within the board you are viewing, thus it won't matter much if you search the specific board or entire forum.

Reason: most likely you will be more interested in relevant topics within the board you are currently browsing, as such we give "local" matching topics an edge over others to catch you eye.

Advanced Search

Use advanced criteria to take more control of your search, that is, to search more specifically for information on forum.

To use Advanced Search on forum:

Click on the word Search found between Downloads and Unread Posts in the dark blue bar in the upper portion of the window of your browser (indicated by red arrow here). The advanced search form will appear.

Options that are available to you in the Advanced Search include:

1.  Search terms

Choosing the right search terms is the key to finding the information you need. It's often advisable to use multiple search terms, each with 4 letters or more, and avoid cliches like "best, good, nice, tool ...", to achieve best results.

Phrase search:

If you only want results that include an exact phrase, simply put quotation marks around your search terms.
For example: “death and taxes”, “it’s worth it”

Keyword Exclusion:

Sometimes your search term will have more than one meaning, and thus generating more search results than desired. You can narrow down your search by putting a minus sign ("-") in front of words related to the meaning you want to avoid.
Note: Be sure to include a space before the minus sign, otherwise it will be regarded as a ("-") dash sign that connects two words -- “anti-virus” is not same as “anti –virus”.

2.  Match all words/Match any words

For search terms: alpha version

“match all words” will find posts that contain both “alpha” and “version”, while “match any words” will find those contain either “alpha” or “version”.

"Match any words" tends to find posts that are NOT relevant enough to your search, as such it's not recommended.

3.  Search by Username

Enter the username of a member to limiting your search to what that individual member has posted.

At this moment, searching for posts by multiple users (except in the case of all users) is not supported.

4.  Show results as messages

When checked, posts that match your search criteria will be displayed in full instead of in excerpt, and will naturally result in much larger results pages which might be significant if you are searching for a popular word or phrase.

5.  Search in topic subjects only

Narrow the search to only the subjects of topics for your keywords but does not search the keywords in the content of individual posts.

6.  Message age

Find in posts that were posted to the forum within a certain period of time.

(1) To find in posts from last week, fill in “between 0 and 7 days”.
(2) To find in posts from the week before last to the last week, fill in "between 7 and 14 days".

7.  Search order

How would you like search results to display in order? Choices:

(1) Most relevant results first

This is the default, and is, in most cases, the most effective option -- as search results on forum are ranked by our significantly improved algorithm.

(2) Largest/smallest topics first

Rank topics by the number of replies posted to it. Number of replies is an indicator of popularity of a topic.

(3) Most recent/oldest topics first

Rank topics by the date when they were started.

8.  Specific Topic id

Search within a specific topic. Topic id uniquely identifies each topic on the forum.


In this case, 9091 is the topic id.

9.  Match Mode

(1) Matching whole words only

Whole word matching, no more no less: "play" matches "play", and does not match “played” or anything else.

What you get: Least results, Least noise

(2) Smart matching (default)

"play" finds: playable, playground, played, playing, player, plays...

It decides the best matching mode based on its analysis of individual search terms.

What you get: absolute most of all potential matches, some noise

(3) Match any sequence

"play" finds: display, byplay, foreplay, downplay, playable, ...

What you get: most results, most noise.

10.  Choose a board to search in, or search all

Check/uncheck the boards that you’d like to search in.

Now, of course, when you are all done, click "Search" button to sets the whole thing in motion, but hitting 'Enter' directly from any of the search fields is sometimes more convenient.

Adjust your search parameters after initial search

If you got a typo in your search terms, or the initial search failed to return meaningful results, it’s now very easy to modify your search keywords and options without starting a new search.

Expand/fold-able result summary
Are you getting tired of having to scroll up and down long search result pages to find topics that interest you?

Just hit on “Show/hide result summary” to list the subjects of topics on the current result page, with your keywords highlighted.

Now simply click on a subject in the summary area to instantly jump to the corresponding topic below.

Also it's hassle-free to navigate result pages in the summary area, once you click on a page index in there, the summary area will automatically expand and focus itself after the page is loaded. Now you get to view search results without even having to scroll the page at all!

Go to Top

Did I just tell you that you don't have to scroll your mouse on result pages? ;)

Now it just cannot get easier to "Go to Top".

In the (usual) Linked Excerpt mode:

Just click on any date on the right of the page to go to top.

In the Full Message mode:

Click on "Top" (as shown)


So how do these features help me? Pretty straightforward -- when your search generates many matches (let's say over 2 result pages), these functions will save you time and energy (no more mouse scrolling) dramatically:

View result summary -> find a topic that interests you -> directly jump to that topic and read excerpts from it -> Immediately Go to Top and look for another interesting topic...


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