SharePoint Wildcard Search *

(c) Sean Bordner

(c) Sean Bordner

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.

About Sean Bordner

CEO, Solution Architect, Co-Author of SharePoint for Nonprofits, Contributing Author MCT, MCTS, MCSD, MCP, MCAD
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2 Responses to SharePoint Wildcard Search *

  1. Dakota says:

    “Very few users even try to use wildcards in search boxes anymore – they don’t need to.”

    I wish you would have provided more of an explaination because I use wildcards all the time to find things on the terabytes of data I have backed up and in search.

    Why are wildcards ‘not’ useful in Sharepoint?

    • Sean Bordner says:

      Thanks for your feedback. It sounds like you utilize search at a different capacity then most end users. In my experience, most users want to type in a keyword/phrase, hit search, and find precisely what they are looking for, the end. Since SharePoint 2010 offers refinements, now that same user can further filter the results using meta-data like author, subject or topic, content type (Word Doc, Excel file, etc..). Additionally, you still have the Advanced Search web part, which allows even granular specification of search parameters, such as condition matching (example: WHERE {Title} CONTAINS {Topic XYX} AND/OR {Topic} EQUALS {XYZ}). Also, the fact is most end users wouldn’t know what you were even talking about if you told them to use “wildcards” in their searches. Not all users, you are a perfect example of a user that feels right at home using wildcards, but that is not usually the case at all. Please keep in mind, I’m talking about end users here. It’s not necessarily their job to understand the nuances of the search engine, they just need to quickly find what they are looking for – and the SharePoint search engine provides that ability without the need to use wildcards.

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