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Help With Searching

Simple Searching

Simple searching is pretty self explanatory. You type what you want to search for in the box, and the search algorithm will look through the database finding all the records that contain your search terms. For example, if you were to search for "dog" the database would find all the records that contain the word "dog", even if it occurs in another word.

Complex Searching

Sometimes, the behavior of simple searching is undesirable. For example, if you search through the database using the search term "smith herman" the database will give you records with both "smith" and "herman" in them. However, it will also give you records containing "smitherman". This is because the word "smitherman" contains both the word "smitherman" and the word "smitherman". This is good, because it means the search engine is including all results, but it is possible you do not want to do this. In such situations, complex searching many be necessary. The search engine has the ability to recognize special operators and do special searches based on them. There are two of these operators:

  • Exclusion - This operator is used to specifically exclude things from a search, and is represented by the tilde. (~) What was described above is the perfect situation to use the exclusion operator. If we do not want to include "smitherman" in our search results, we can exclude it by typing "smith herman ~smitherman" as our search term:
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    The search engine reads it as, "look for any records containing smith and herman, but do NOT include any containing smitherman."

  • Specific Inclusion - This operator is in some ways the opposite of exclusion. It is used to specifically ask for search results containing an exact set of characters. It is represented by quotation marks. ("") Needing to use specific inclusion is rare, but it can be useful. The search engine by default treats each search term separately. This means that in the example above, the search engine would look for all records containing both "smith" and "herman". But what if you want to search specifically for "smith herman"? That is, smith, followed by a space, followed by herman. In that exact order. This is where specific inclusion comes in. You can surround your search term you want to specifically include in quotation marks like so: "smith herman":
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    This tells the search engine to treat "smith herman" as one single search term, and the database therefore will only return results containing that exact set of characters. This can also be used to specifically exclude items, when used in combination with the exclusion operator. For example, if we do not want any results containing the phrase "duck pond" you can search with ~"duck pond":
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    This will exclude any records which exactly match "duck pond". You should know that specific inclusion tends to severely limit search results, and it should only be used after you've already tried using simple searching. The reason for this is best seen by an example: Say you're searching for articles about Pere Marquette. If you only want search results about Pere Marquette, you only need to use simple searching because that is what the search engine is by default designed to do. The problem is, when you do a search using specific inclusion, as was stated above, the search engine will include ONLY search results containing an EXACT MATCH to what you entered. Therefore, all records which have Pere Marquette in them will of course be included, but other results like Pere & Marquette, Pere - Marquette, or Pere / Marquette will NOT BE INCLUDED whereas they would be included in a simple search. This is because they do not exactly match what you're searching for. Using specific inclusion without knowing this can potentially omit results that you want to see.