Live.com Search Macros for the MSDN Forums


One of the cooler recent features that the Live.com search team has released is the creation of macros for searches—essentially a way to save the long advanced search parameters that you can add to a search to scope your search down.  A common example is scoping by site—adding “site:www.imdb.com” after your search will scope your search down to only results from the Internet Movie Database website.


 


One of the cooler features that the forums team has released on the MSDN Forums are meta tags in the HTML of a thread.  OK, I know, it doesn’t sound exciting at first—hang with me here.  The meta tags contain information about a thread—who asked a question, whether or not the question was answered, whether or not the question was helpful, and so on.  Want to see what meta tags are available on a post?  Go to the forums, look at a thread, and view the source of that page…you’ll see them towards the top of the code of the page.


 


So, what’s so cool about that?  Live.com and MSN Search allow you to scope your searches using these meta tags, which means that I can do complex searches against the forums.  Want to see all of the questions that were answered by me (Joe Morel – MSFT) on the MSDN Forums?  Click here.  How many my manager has answered (Josh Ledgard)?  Click here.  (By the way Josh, I’m up 109 – 100.)  J


 


So, combining these two pieces of search coolness together, I’ve been able to create a few basic search macros for Live.com that allow you to scope your search to subsets of threads on the MSDN Forums.  There’s two ways you can access each:  either sign in to your Live.com account and add these macros to your Live.com page with the links I’ve provided, or just append the “macro:” string after your search term with the appropriate macro name after it.  Want to see all of the answered questions by a Microsoftie about “debugging”?  Just type in “debugging macro:MSDNForums.MicrosoftAnswered” (or click here).


 


Scope to Answered Questions:  MSDNForums.AnsweredQuestions


Scope to Unanswered Questions:  MSDNForums.UnansweredQuestions


Scope to Microsoft-Answered Questions:  MSDNForums.MicrosoftAnswered


Scope to Helpful-Rated Threads:  MSDNForums.HelpfulThreads


 


It gets better from here…if you click on the links, you can view the actual macro that does the filtering and add the macro to your Live.com homepage.  As new search results are found, you’ll always be kept on top of the newest questions in the forums.


 


What macros can you come up with for the forums?  Post them here, and let’s see how creative we can get.  By the way, here are the meta tags available on the forums site:


 


Search.MSForums.SiteID


Search.MSForums.GroupID


Search.MSForums.GroupName


Search.MSForums.ForumID


Search.MSForums.ForumName


Search.MSForums.IsAnswered


Search.MSForums.IsQuestion


Search.MSForums.ViewType


Search.MSForums.HelpfulThread


Search.MSForums.ThreadStarterUserID


Search.MSForums.ThreadStarterUserName


Search.MSForums.ThreadAnswererUserID Search.MSForums.ThreadAnswererUserName Search.MSForums.ThreadContributorUserID Search.MSForums.ThreadContributorUserName

Comments (9)

  1. Peter Ritchie says:

    Joe, are there no meta tags for post/thread content?  I cannot search forums.microsoft.com/msdn for posts that contain the phrase "Peter Ritchie".  I can only search the msdn forums for pages that currently contain that phrase, leaving me with lots of extraneous results.

  2. Peter Ritchie says:

    Also, I take it there’s no way to provide credentials to search forums/groups that aren’t publically available?

  3. MSDN Archive says:

    For content, you should just be able to type in to the search box what are you looking for, so if I wanted all of the posts on the forums that had "C#" in them, I’d just type:

    "C# site:forums.microsoft.com"

    Actually, there is a meta tag for user name, so you should be able to use the Search.MSForums.ThreadContributorUserName metatag.

    As for the non-public forums, no, those aren’t indexed, as the MSN bot doesn’t have the credentials to crawl that site either.

  4. You can always add more words to the query that will not be matched against site/meta params. Just add them as unescaped words.

    It certainly would be possible to index the non-public forums but it most likely is a security issue. A public search engine should never index a private site/section.

    I think it would be the same as providing google with your login/password to any site you are registered at so you can search that content on google.

    I would not want MSN to index content of private MS forums, it would be up to the private forums.

  5. Peter Ritchie says:

    "C# site:forums.microsoft.com" that doesn’t limit search to the content of posts; it finds all pages that contain "C#"; which would also find the home page, each C# forum page, any pages whose "Can’t find the answer?" section includes "C#" at the time of the search.

    Lots and lots of chaff.

  6. I’ve blogged about using Live.com macros to make searching the forums a breeze, but the feedback I’ve…

  7. Peter Ritchie says:

    As a moderator, it would be handy to be able to limit/filter search results by post date (not page date) as well as by number of replies.  e.g. find all threads, with no replies, older than 6 months.

    I don’t see any meta tags that contain that sort of information, any chance they could be added?  I don’t know how you’d perform a range (date or otherwise) search with Live.  I can’t find any docs on search, can someone point me in the right direction?

  8. I’m using the macro feature all the time and I love it. It’s actually the main reason I’m now using live.com instead of Google. I haven’t used it on the MSDN forums though – not yet!