Although I originally started out focusing on the Search Engine Optimization discipline within SharePoint, my blog has grown to include a range of other topics dealing with SharePoint and Search. That’s why this post is about the use of wildcards in searches.
An example of a wildcard search would be typing in: chemi* This would return chemical, chemistry, chemist, etc… Most search engines that support wildcard searches require at least four regular characters in the search term as well as the wildcard (in this example, the wildcard was an asterisk *).
The use of wildcard searches is typically considered “advanced searching”. For those of you who remember DOS know that back then it was not considered advanced at all, just the way of doing things – and actually still is in many non Microsoft OS’s. OK – those days are gone and we are undoubtedly better for it.
There was a time when I used wildcards in my searches, just like there was a time I used wildcards to negotiate my OS – that time has passed. This of course is referring to the normal every day searches using a search box and search button, not data mining or comment linguistics which will always require a broader range of “advanced searching” capabilities.
I think wildcards had a place in searches back when search engine algorithms were much less sophisticated – when they didn’t look at contextual relevance, authoritative page distance, etc… as closely. Very few users even try to use wildcards in search boxes anymore – they don’t need to.