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Search for Help Help

  1. How does the Basic Search work?

How does the Basic Search work?

Stopwords are common words that usually aren't very useful for searching—words such as 'the' or 'and'. Those words will be stripped from your search, and the rest of the words that are left will be used as part of the search. The search will return all letterboxes that match any one of the terms you specify, however, they will be sorted with the best matches listed first—usually the boxes that match all of your search terms.

A word in one's search term is more-or-less any sequence of characters that are letters and numbers. Two exceptions are the underscore (_) and apostrophe (') which will count as part of the word. So a search for "self-help" would actually perform a search for the words "self" and "help" rather than the one word "self-help." Searches for "turtle's," however, will count as a single word. Additionally, a search for "turtles" and a search for "turtle's" are two completely different searches with no overlap. (This is how the database works, but for box names, tracker names, and other "titles," AQ internally strips the apostrophes when it's stored in the database so that the database will appear to find the match in those types of searches, but that's actually an AQ feature, not a database one, and you shouldn't always rely on it.)

If you want to search for only boxes that include all of the words then precede each of the words with a plus sign. So, to search for any boxes that include both "self" and "help" you would enter "+self +help". If you want to search for exactly "self help" that occur in that order then put "self help" in the search box, including the quotation marks.

And finally, sometimes you may want to search for the exact name of a letterbox—especially when the name of a box is a single word that would otherwise match a lot of other boxes. You can do this—sort of—by starting your search with the ^ symbol which tells AQ that it must match the beginning of the name. For instance, a search for "honor" would match a box named Badge of Honor but a search for "^honor" would not since Badge of Honor doesn't begin with the word "honor". And on the other side of the coin, a search for "honor" would not match Honorary Mayor since the word "honor" does not show up in it all, but it would match a search for "^honor" since the name of the box does start with "honor". Even in this type of search, the words THE, A, and AN are still ignored, however, so a search for "^honor" would still match a box called An honor.

Stopwords

There is a list of words, called stopwords, that are not indexed as being too common and generally useless as far as searches go. If one is used in a search, it will be ignored. The latest version of the stoplist Atlas Quest uses is: a, a's, ain't, all, am, an, and, any, aq, are, aren't, as, at, be, became, because, been, being, box, boxed, boxes, boxing, but, by, c's, came, can, can't, cannot, cant, co, com, could, couldn't, did, didn't, do, does, doesn't, doing, don't, each, edu, eg, either, else, et, etc, even, ever, every, ex, far, few, for, further, get, gets, getting, given, gives, go, goes, got, had, hadn't, has, hasn't, have, haven't, having, he, he's, her, here, here's, hers, herself, hi, him, himself, his, how, however, i, i'd, i'll, i'm, i've, ie, if, in, inc, into, is, isn't, it, it'd, it'll, it's, its, let, let's, letterbox, letterboxed, letterboxes, letterboxing, letterboxer, many, may, maybe, me, mean, might, much, must, my, myself, nd, no, non, none, nor, not, now, of, oh, ok, okay, old, on, only, onto, or, our, ours, park, per, rd, re, really, seem, seemed, seeming, seems, seen, she, should, shouldn't, since, so, sub, sup, t's, th, than, thank, thanks, thanx, that, that's, thats, the, their, theirs, them, then, there, there's, theres, these, they, they'd, they'll, they're, they've, this, those, though, thus, to, too, un, up, us, value, very, via, viz, vs, was, wasn't, way, we, we'd, we'll, we're, we've, were, weren't, whether, which, while, why, with, won't, would, wouldn't, yes, yet, you, you'd, you'll, you're, you've, your, yours, yourself, yourselves

Some examples might make this more clear:
Search Term Search For Will Match Results Will Not Match Results
flowers Will search for all boxes that have the word flowers in it. Will find Flowers for Algernon, Pick Some Flowers, and The Flowers Wrath Will not match The Flower or Baking Flour.
War and Peace Will find all boxes that have the words war or peace in it. It will ignore the word and since that is a stopword. Will match War and Peace, Make Peace, Not War, and Peace Monument Will not match Buy an AQ Patch today.
Georgia on my Mind Will search for boxes with the words Georgia and Mind. The words on and my will be ignored since they are stopwords. Will find Georgia on my Mind, Georgia Peaches, Mind Your Manners, and Mind Over Matter. Box names that use both words will rank higher than names that use one word or the other. Will not find Maine on my Brain or The Oregon Files.
turtle's Will search for all boxes that have the word turtle's in it. Will find A Turtle's Shell. Will not match The turtles are a menace!
the least of your worries Will search for boxes the word worries in the name. The words least and your are stopwords and are therefore ignored. Will find My Worries and Don't Worry. Will not find Least of All or Your Birthday Present.
^honor Will search for boxes that begin with the word honor—after ignoring words like THE, A, and AN. Will find An Honor and Honorable Man. Will not find Badge of Honor or On my Honor.

The author search requires an exact match to the trail name of the person who carved, authored, planted, or owns the letterbox, or leave it blank if you do not wish to search by author.

The box type is self explanatory, but for search results with the most detailed information, it helps to be specific about what type of letterbox you are looking for. The default "all" type strips out many useful details from the search results since it displays for the lowest common denominator.

Special Cases

If you type in a number and only a number, AQ will return the box with that box ID. Everything else will be ignored. So, for instance, if you search for a box with the "name" 181707, AQ will direct you immediately to The Skateboard Kid letterbox.

Additionally, if you know a box is listed on AQ but the clue is hosted on LbNA and so you only printed the LbNA ID number, you can look up a box based on the LbNA ID number by typing the name as "LbNA ID" (where ID is the ID number assigned by LbNA). For example, searching with the "name" as LbNA 4311 will automatically redirect you to Snoopy, which has an AQ ID of 127, but an LbNA ID of 4311.