Microsoft search supports the “#” symbol!

Reading Korby’s blog
today, I saw that Microsoft recently updated their search
and you can now successfully enter “C#” and find C#!  What *used*
to happen is that the “#” symbol got ignored and a search for “C# samples” returned
“C samples”.  BIG thanks to the MS search team for making this happen! 
I originally noticed this before I took the job as the C# Product Manager, and
as it turns out I wasn’t the only person who was aware of this flaw.  When C#
was originally mentioned on MS websites (circa 2000), Tony, the C# Product Manager
at the time,  noticed that MS search didn’t allow for the “#” symbol and e-mailed
the search team.  Per Tony, they responded by saying we should rename the language,
and Tony responded with a classic Goodhew-ism,
which I won’t repeat but it involved Tony pointing out, in only the blatantly obvious
way that Tony can, that the search engine should be able to support a
character in the 8-bit ASCII set,
which has been around since the 60’s.  Tony rules.

After hearing this, I set my 2-year personal mission to be able to search for “C#”
on  About the only thing I actually did to accomplish this goal
was to mention this to Sara
, who informed me that search was being revamped.  I’m not sure if
Sara did anything, but she totally understood, and also explained to me that MSDN
is dependent on the general MS search, so there wasn’t much she could do.  I
definitely got to give her credit though 🙂

On a side note, the “#” symbol, commonly referred to as the pound or hash symbol
is technically known as the octothorpe.
The quick explanation of the octothorpe is included below:

The story as told by Ralph Carlsen is that a Bell Labs engineer, Don Macpherson,
went to instruct their first client, the Mayo Clinic, in the use of the new system.
He felt the need for a fresh and unambiguous name for the # symbol. His reasoning
that led to the new word was roughly that it had eight points, so ought to start with
octo–. He was apparently at that time active in a group that was trying to get the
Olympic medals of the athlete Jim Thorpe returned from Sweden, so he decided to add
thorpe to the end.

  The “#” symbol in “C#” is not an octothorpe, but instead
the musical note C#. For simplicity, this is expressed as the “#” symbol. 
Another theory that I’ve heard is that the # symbol is a combination of  the ”++”
in C++, with the ”+” symbols crossed over each other to form the
# symbol.

Other sites I regularly use that don’t support “C#”

  • Some parts of
  • BlogX for category names, which is a while back why I added the phonetic spelling
    of C# and stopped using the “C#” category


Comments (1)

  1. Sharp, anchor, pound, number, [escape], [footnote]… # MUST be the most overloaded symbol in existence. I once spent two weekend days wrestling with a syntax problem wherein I (unsuccessfully) attempted to parse #-embedded URLs. And I’m not alone! The history of # in the annals of computer programming is long, convoluted, and sordid…