How to search words with 3 or fewer letters

I’m sure some of you smart people already know this, but I just figured it out and got excited enough to post about it.

Anyway, as we know, the SDMB search engine disallows words containing three or fewer letter in it. However, if the too-short word you’re looking for is in a phrase, then you can put that phrase inside quotes* and your search will go through. Incidentally, I just found out too that the search engine also blocks common words, even if it’s longer than 3 letters, quoted or not – so a search for “this and that” is fruitless, but something like “web hosting” (my real search) or “tu quoque” (a test) work just fine.

Now, don’t everybody go experimenting with this and get TubaDiva mad at me for starting something.

  • This, of course, is standard procedure for web searches, but I didn’t know if it worked on the SDMB or not until just now.

We have phrase searches now? Hallelujia! It used to be that the search engine treated a quote mark (or a parenthesis, or a minus sign, or nearly anything else) as just another character. So a search for “web hosting” with the quotes would return all threads containing the string doublequote-doubleyoo-ee-bee and the string aitch-oh-ess-tee-aye-en-gee-doublequote. Needless to say, this is a vast improvement (even if the index still has more holes than a colander).

It really does work. A search for “news” maxed out at 500 posts, but “BBC news” returned 200+ posts. It seemed to take longer, though. Since “BBC” isn’t indexed, wouldn’t the search have to read each “news” post and scan for “BBC”? Could be a pretty big performance hit. It probably should be used sparingly.

vBulletin keeps the list of “words you may not search for” in a file called #BADWORDS on the server – it’s editable by administrators. (For what it’s worth, there’s a separate “filter” file that will turn words like “shit” into “****” if the ambience of the particular board calls for doing that – such as a board with a target audience of young adolescents might wish to do.)

It’s nice to know that phrase searches work now.

Wow…I had no idea we could do phrase searches now! What a vast improvement! I wonder why the board can’t index words with fewer than four letters, especially now that we are paying customers. They could throw out all “common” generic words, like “him” and “the,” by placing them in the #BADWORDS file, while still allowing things like “gay” or “DVD.” OR they could index small words only when present in thread titles.

To do a search for a three letter username might come in handy too. Eve, for example. Or gum, if you’re vain. :smiley:

Will that be possible in any way?

OK, here’s wondering… What if I were to do a search for “Mac OSX”? Neither of those is a badword, but they’re both three letters. So presumably, neither of them would be in the index. But the phrase as a whole is more than three characters, and it should be moderately common.

Hm… I think I’ll wait until the evening to try this, just in case it decides to comb the entire database.

I tried your search. It appears that at least one of the words in a phrase search must be 4 letters or more to work. Thus, “Mac OSX” “IBM PC” etc. do not work, but “BBC news” will. It’s unfortunate, because if you wanted to find a thread on say, IBM and its business partners, it might be hard to come up with an exact phrase to seach on.

I’ve got a vBulletin site set up where users can search for three letter terms. There are many three-letter planning terms, such as “PUD”, or zoning designations like “R-1”, and I don’t want users to be inconvenienced when they try to hunt them down.

The vBulletin setting is user (admin) configurable. If your board/server can handle the extra indexing & searching load, go for it, but the SDMB dudes have decided not to do this.