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Advanced Search Features

Boolean operators
Boolean operators are the power searcher's friend. They allow you to enter "advanced" searches directly as text, instead of using the Modify panel. Remember: to use any Boolean operators, you must first select "Boolean Search" from the "all the words" menu.

word   symbol   description
AND & AND links two or more terms together to narrow a search. Only pages containing all the terms listed will produce a successful result. For example, Nostradamus AND prophesy will return results with both the term Nostradamus and the term prophesy in the pages.
OR | OR links two terms and collects all documents that include either term. For example, searching for design OR "graphic arts" will bring up pages containing one or both terms.
NOT ! The NOT or ! operator will search for records that contain the query term that precedes it, but do not contain the term that follows it. For example, searching for boxers NOT shorts will produce documents related to pugilists without mistakenly giving you articles about trousers that do not descend below the knee.
complex queries (  )

Each of the Boolean operators described above will work on either a simple search term or a more complex query marked by parentheses. This allows you to construct very powerful queries. For example,

"bed and breakfast" AND ((grapes AND California) OR "wine country")

((hacker OR programmer) NOT "part time") AND (design OR "graphic arts")


Query modifiers
Query modifiers can be used to further refine all the words, any of the words, and Boolean searches. When entering search terms into the main or Modify type-in boxes, you can use quotation marks around phrases ("search engines") and pluses and minuses before words and phrases (+sports -"ice hockey"). These query modifiers allow greater control of search results.

name   symbol   description
quotation marks " " Quotation marks (" ") are used to denote exact phrases. For example, a search on "New York Times" will match only documents containing the words as an exact phrase. It will not find pages with the words used in different orders, such as "New times in York!".
plus operator + The plus operator ( + ) placed before a word or phrase requires that all returned pages contain that search term. For example, JFK +CIA will return only pages mentioning the CIA, but pages that also mention JFK will be ranked higher in the results.

minus operator - The minus operator ( - ) placed before a word or phrase excludes all documents containing that search term. For example, searching for "Three Musketeers" -candy will help you find Web pages about the book and the movies without mistakenly getting articles about the candy bar.

wildcards * Use an asterisk (*) to find pages containing words that begin or end with the same letters. For example, a search for comput* would return pages containing words like "compute," "computer," and "computation."


Meta words
Meta words are short cuts that allow experienced searchers to use HotBot's non-text search features from the main text box. A Meta word is a keyword:value pair, separated by a colon (with no spaces). For example: the title keyword finds values in the titles of Web pages, so a search containing the meta word title:president will return documents with the word president in their titles.

meta word description
domain:[name] Restricts a search to the domain selected. Domains can be specified up to three levels deep (.com,, or
depth:[number] Restricts the depth of pages retrieved.
feature:acrobat Detects Acrobat files
feature:applet Detects embedded Java applets
feature:activex Detects ActiveX controls or layouts
feature:audio Detects a range of audio formats
feature:embed Detects plugins
feature:flash Detects the Flash plugin in HTML
feature:form Detects the use of forms in HTML
feature:frame Detects the use of frames in HTML
feature:image Detects image files (GIF, JPEG, etc.)
feature:script Detects embedded scripts
feature:shockwave Detects Shockwave files
feature:table Detects the use of tables in HTML
feature:video Detects a range of video formats
feature:vrml Detects VRML files
outgoingurlext:[extension] Restricts a search to pages containing embedded files with the specified extension. For example, outgoingurlext:ra finds pages containing RealAudio files.
newsgroup:[full newsgroup name] Restricts Usenet searches to articles that have been posted to the specified newsgroup.
scriptlanguage: [language] Searches for pages containing JavaScript or VBScript. (Note that these should always be lower case.)
title:[word] This searches for pages containing the given word in their titles between the HTML ... tags. Any additional words with this marker could be found anywhere within the text of a document, including, but not limited to, the title.
One should note the spacing after a colon when using a meta tag. For example, "title:[word]" is equivalent to one word, and "title: [word]" is equivalent to two words.
after: [day]/[month]/[year] Restricts a search to documents created or modified after the specified date (e.g., currents AND after:30/6/96).
before: [day]/[month]/[year] Restricts a search to documents created or modified before the specified date (e.g., "cyber crime" AND before:30/6/96).
within:number/unit Restricts a search to documents created or modified within the last specified time period (e.g., (pet +care) AND within:3/months). Units can be days, months, or years.

Currently, all date meta words are special cases in the search engine and will only function correctly if used as a single term within a Boolean clause, without any pluses or minuses. So (+cloning -sheep) AND within:8/months is OK, but +cloning -sheep +within:8/months will not work.

It is important to understand that HotBot treats Meta words as words, not as commands that effect the entire search. So the search title:president Nixon will return documents with the "president" in the title and "Nixon" in the body of the document. Furthermore, all of the advanced search modifiers can be used with meta words. For example:

-feature:image +title:president Nixon
will return pages that must not contain images, do have "president" in their title and may have the word "Nixon" in them.

These special search words can be added to queries to restrict search results in a number of ways. Most of these effects can also be achieved by using the controls on the HotBot page.

Wildcards let you search for patterns of characters in words. The * (asterisk) symbol matches 0 or more characters; the ? (question mark) symbol matches one character. For example, the query *man will return documents containing the words man, woman, Spiderman, Oman, and so on, while the query car? will return documents containing words like cart, card, care, and Cary. Remember that the search string must contain at least three adjacent characters, including wildcard characters. You can place wildcards anywhere in the search string, and you can use multiple wildcards in a single word. A word to the wise: Use wildcards for unusual strings, such as names or variant forms of unusual words, and avoid strings such as *ed, *ing, or *and* like the plague.

Case-sensitive searches
HotBot searches are case-sensitive if any letter in the search string (that is, one or more) is capitalized. In such searches, results will match the search string letter for letter. On the other hand, if all letters in the search string are lowercase, HotBot will ignore case (capitalization) in returning search results. Thus, a search for windows would also return pages containing "Windows" and "WINDOWS," whereas a search for Windows would return pages containing "Windows," but not "windows" or "WINDOWS." Hint: Before throwing your hands up in frustration, check your Caps Lock key.


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