Tips and Techniques for Searching Metafilter Wanted August 6, 2005 4:24 PM   Subscribe

Tips and Techniques for Searching Metafilter Wanted [mi]
posted by klarck to MetaFilter-Related at 4:24 PM (14 comments total)

It seems there are a lot of workarounds being used in lieu of MeFi's inbuilt search and Google. Until improvements are made, can we collect tips, well formed query lines, preferred search engines or other clever techniques for teasing out Metafilter stuff?

How do you recall a specific comment by a certain user? How to you find an old AskMe question? How do you avoid duplicating an AskMe? How do you search for an old MetaTalk thread? For those of us who haven't made an fpp, what is this URL search on the post-a-link page thingy?

Who has some reliable, powerful query lines they'd like to share?
posted by klarck at 4:24 PM on August 6, 2005

Here's how to avoid a double post for MetaFilter posts:

- Write your post, then figure out the most unique thing about your post. Let's say it's a flash movie about dancing mushrooms and it's hosted on a personal server of someone's.

- There are two unique things to search against here, the word "mushrooms" might have been used previously, and if it's someone's random webserver (not,, or, the exact name of their server is unique. Let's say it was hosted at

- Do a search since day one on posts for the domain name. You should find any other post that ever linked to the domain.

- If the link is hosted at a popular or large server, try searching for the unique term (mushrooms in this case) and you will find every post that mentioned the word, if you don't see the same site linked, you probably don't have a double post.
posted by mathowie (staff) at 5:21 PM on August 6, 2005

It would be supercool if someone who had the bandwidth, storage, and horsepower to spider the entire site did so, and then built a supercool database/ search engine/ query engine.

I'd love to query for pairs of users who comment in the same threads together most often, frequent posters who intersect the least often, persons who comment in the threads of a specific other the most frequently, words used the most by individual posters, average comment lengths, et cetera.

In short, there's a world of possibilities for study that could be launched by a sufficiently skilled, capitalized, and interested person.
posted by Kwantsar at 5:26 PM on August 6, 2005

Here's how to find a specific comment by a specific user:

- go to

- put in " their_username subject_matter

where their_username is replaced with their name and subject_matter is a topic or word likely used by them.

Here's a search for my username, subject matter mushrooms, confined to MetaFilter. Maybe the desired result was this one, which I left a comment in, and someone else talked about mushrooms.
posted by mathowie (staff) at 5:27 PM on August 6, 2005

Use Yahoo, it's much better than Google at searching this site. There's a post about it still on the front page of metatalk.
posted by smackfu at 5:34 PM on August 6, 2005

Matt, didn't we (by "we," I mean someone, sometime, the "royal we") determine that Yahoo! has a fuller index of the site than does Google?
posted by Kwantsar at 5:35 PM on August 6, 2005

I don't remember. How do you structure a site specific search at Yahoo?
posted by mathowie (staff) at 5:39 PM on August 6, 2005

Advanced search. Here.
posted by Kwantsar at 5:49 PM on August 6, 2005

Upon closer examination, "" also fits the bill, and gives 55 matches to Google's 19 for the mathowie mushrooms search.
posted by Kwantsar at 5:53 PM on August 6, 2005

Right, but isn't there a way to build URLs for Yahoo without using their advanced search? Ok, I just figured it out. Add to the search query string.
posted by mathowie (staff) at 5:55 PM on August 6, 2005

Just to be fair, some of Yahoo's results are duplicates -- certain pages seem to be accessible from multiple servers in the address space and it treats them as different pages.
posted by smackfu at 6:08 PM on August 6, 2005

Is there a search string to find a user's name (such as, say "quonsar") in a thread where that user didn't post? Like "search for quonsar but exclude any results that have the phrase 'posted by quonsar at'"?
posted by jonson at 8:29 PM on August 6, 2005

Yes, on Google. quonsar -"posted by quonsar"
posted by jessamyn at 8:34 PM on August 6, 2005

also add -usercontacts to that
posted by jessamyn at 8:38 PM on August 6, 2005

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