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I have the impression that Google has become unusable when searching for programming related questions.

Example: I'm Googling for

XML-RPC Redstone Cookie

I'm expecting results where all three terms are contained. I don't care for results where one term misses. I guess until some months ago Google just worked this way, i.e. all terms were included.

Somehow this feature is gone now (Google apparently thinks it is more intelligent than the user and knows what the user is searching for). So I helped myself putting a + in front of every word. This is, however, a bit cumbersome. And for the last weeks, it even doesn't work anymore in all cases, Google ignores the +.

So how do you search for progamming related problems? Do you still use Google? If yes, which techniques do you use to get the right results? Or do you use another search engine? Which one?

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closed as off topic by Mark Trapp Nov 16 '11 at 4:06

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I would put XML-RPC in quotes, I'm not sure Google handles hyphenated terms like that the way you would hope. Also, it seems to treat Cookie oddly - try putting that in quotes too, like so –  Carson63000 Nov 16 '11 at 0:30
Hi Bob, how to use Google isn't on-topic here: it's not really programmer specific, and help using dev tools are off-topic here anyway. Our sister site, Web Applications, is the place where you want to ask questions about using Google search, but there's already been a question asked about it. –  user8 Nov 16 '11 at 4:07
This happened with the + sign. –  e-MEE Nov 16 '11 at 6:34

6 Answers 6

up vote 2 down vote accepted

Yes, Google recently retired the + search operator to make room for new social features for Google+.

But, you can now search using Google's newly released 'verbatim' search option:

With the verbatim tool on, we’ll use the literal words you entered without making normal improvements such as

  • making automatic spelling corrections
  • personalizing your search by using information such as sites you’ve visited before
  • including synonyms of your search terms (matching “car” when you search [automotive])
  • finding results that match similar terms to those in your query (finding results related to “floral delivery” when you search [flower shops])
  • searching for words with the same stem like “running” when you’ve typed [run]
  • making some of your terms optional, like “circa” in [the scarecrow circa 1963]

This also works for the plus operator.

Google's blog post on verbatim search

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I have been using DuckDuckgo for a while now and find the results on searches better overall. Using your example, I did a search using DuckDuckGo and found that eight of the first ten results had all three terms. The same search using Google returned only four results with all three terms out of ten.

Both searches were done 'as is'. I did not include quotes or '+'.

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Search on stackoverflow first; and if it's not a dup, ask for a solution there.

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I've been using Bing and DuckDuckGo more for programming related searches when I want more details or variety than what's on StackOverflow.

Google is committed to showing paid ads first and foremost and, as a result, have made their search results less relevant for long tail searches. You can sometimes get results by placing the terms in quotes but this doesn't even work as well as it used to.

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As a test I tried entering "pharmacolology" in Google, which gave me a "Search instead for pharmacolology" button. Clicking it doesn't change the search query to "+pharmacolology", but it does give me just "pharmacolology" results.

Google seems to have removed the operators and put the search modifiers somewhere else in the URL -- I'm not sure where. But if you can figure that out, you can apply the same URL pattern to your own searches even with searches that don't give a "search instead for..." link.

Also, I google with Bing sometimes. I can't decide if it's necessarily better or worse, but it brings up different results -- which is often just what I need.

Bing also supports the + operator, and as far as I can tell, actually respects it.

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if I use the argument as you have provided it, I get 18,190 results.

if I type this (with each word quoted)

"XML-RPC" "Redstone" "Cookie"

instead I get:2060 results only - I assume that this would be an improvement.

If you are interested in Dot Net, http://www.searchdotnet.com/ may help. Another programming search sites is: http://www.koders.com/ as well as this site.

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