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Emperor Mateus
• 6/28/2013

Ask bar vs Search bar‏

This was a question I sent to Wikia, not realising that Answers was a deprecated platform and they were no longer supporting it. (Although it was good of them to reply to tell me so.) I'll copy the whole thing, so if any of you guys have any ideas, that'd be great.

Hi, I was wondering if there may be a way for the Search bar on an Answers wiki, such as, to be as prevalent and obvious as the Ask bar. Many people who ask questions here at Fable Answers are likely to find their question has already been asked if they take the time to use Search. But the Ask box is so obvious, the Search bar aeems to be overlooked.

Or, perhaps, would it be possible for the Ask bar to function as a Search bar in the first instance, and then give the option to ask the entered question if no results provide the answer? For example, say there exists an answer "How do I open the door in Brightwood", and someone enters in the Ask box "How do you open the Brightwood door". This may be the same question, but worded differently. I realise we can redirect the question if it is the same, but with dozens of questions coming in each day, it would be beneficial if the site was able to recognise common terms in existing answers asked in new questions, and present them to the asker, so that our editors can focus on answering questions which are actually new, and not spend time redirecting questions which already exist.

Since they are no longer actively changing it (Tim Quievryn said this was one of the "fatal flaws of the Answers wikis"), I doubt they'd have much of an issue with trying to improve it, as long as it doesn't violate ToU.

I have Tim's full reply if you're interested in seeing it.

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Emperor Mateus
• 6/29/2013

On the topic of getting people to use the search bar first, on DWA, we changed he colour of the background of the search box to white, same as the ask box. This made it really stand out, since we use a dark background theme, so people can actually see the box, and then we altered the message above the ask box to point people to the search box. And, as I'm sure you're aware the search bar has a reputation for being a bit rubbish, on the special:search page I've left a hint people can mouse over to find how to search our wiki through Google. We've also set up a category structure which people can search through to find their questions, despite not being complete yet, and linked the top questions category in really obvious spots such as in the navigation bar.

What other things have people done to encourage people to search before asking?

• 6/30/2013

Did you change the colours of the search box in Wikia.css? I've had a look at tried to copy it at Fable Answers but it doesn't seem to have worked. Could you have a look, please, and see if you can work out what I did wrong?


Never mind, it seems that it just hadn't purged properly. Thanks for the tip!

• 7/1/2013

I sometimes find we have the opposite issue. People mistake the Ask bar for the Search bar every now and then. As for the case of duplicates, we get heaps of those. Generally we have a FAQ category which has all of the commonly repeated questions under one tab of the navigation bar. The pages give a simple, correct answer and are protected from editing.

Although this rarely helps as we still get heaps of duplicates anyway (the most common is the terribly vague "Where is Mission 12"), its still one attempt at directing people away from re-asking the same questions over and over again. Generally with duplicates, we simply copy the old answer to the new question.

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