In October, several major features were added to the MediaWiki internal search engine and integrated into the English Wikipedia. Wikipedia's search engine has been criticized in the past as it lacked some features which are considered standard in modern Internet search engines, and these additions are an important step forward. Some of the new features are:
- Did you mean: If the query appears to contain a spelling mistake or is otherwise unusual, an alternative is proposed. For example, when searching for grabage (with a typo), there is a message saying, "Did you mean: garbage."
- Fuzzy search: Adding a tilde (~) at the end of a search word matches words with similar spelling. For example, searching for james~ watt~ identifies James Watt, James Wyatt, and James Watts as the first three search results.
- Prefix search: It is now possible to search within pages whose title begins with some specified text, by adding
prefix: before the search text. For example, try prefix:Wikipedia:Village Pump.
- Search ranking: The order of the search results has been improved, based on several factors, such as the number of links to an article.
Some search options (such as fuzzy search and prefix search) can currently be accessed only through the use of the above-mentioned "magic words." At some point, it is expected that an advanced search page will be added with a friendlier access to many such features.
Further information about these new features can be found in the announcement on Wikitech-l by Robert Stojnic. Some technical details are also available.