SymbolHound: Search Stack Overflow for special characters




SymbolHound is a search engine that doesn't ignore special characters. I was always frustrated that I couldn't search for symbols like >> and && using Google or the custom Stack Overflow search, so I made a search engine for programmers. It currently searches mostly Stack Overflow pages, with plans to eventually index a much wider range of programming websites (including symbols, of course).

This is a problem that I know a lot of other Stack Exchange users have run into. It is frequently asked about:



It uses the open source Apache Nutch and Apache Solr for crawling, indexing, and searching, with a small PHP backend for processing user queries.


Nutch and Solr, which power the backend of SymbolHound, both use the open source Apache license.


Posted 2011-11-29T17:09:03.150

Reputation: 741

2+1 I tried it with some Perl variables (which are impossible to search for with Google, etc.) and I'm pleased to report it worked perfectly.Nathan Osman 2011-11-29T22:34:58.427


this is really great -- and answers at least a few requests on

Jeff Atwood 2011-12-16T19:50:14.193

sweet and pretty useful idea, thank you for that.systempuntoout 2012-01-02T16:22:11.453

Oddly enough, this was not at the top of the list when I search stackapps for "symbol search" haha. I think it was like 10th down.styfle 2012-01-17T00:54:17.960

Too bad you can't flag a post "Awesome!"l0b0 2012-04-03T14:40:42.920

Fantastic work! Just tried several special character "strings" for different languages and all queries where answered topic-related, whereas Google just displayed junk.. o) Searching for "color-stop()" made Symbolhound stall, though!Robert G. 2012-04-18T23:10:57.537



Unfortunately there is a bug:

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It seems like some of the results for "©" are not from Stack Overflow at all.

Nathan Osman

Posted 2011-11-29T17:09:03.150

Reputation: 22 100

Use advanced search.kinokijuf 2012-01-02T20:43:47.783

Note: this problem doesn't seem to happen with other symbols (like Perl variables, etc.).Nathan Osman 2012-01-02T23:17:36.090

3Though the site does say it searches multiple sites - "SymbolHound searches a growing index of programming websites", maybe there aren't that many posts with the copyright symbol in them.ChrisF 2012-01-02T23:20:55.700

2Like ChrisF said, this isn't a bug: SymbolHound is expanding to index sites other than Stack Overflow (currently most searches will still give you almost entirely SO pages, though). There is an advanced search feature that allows you to limit searches to specific sites, if you only want to see SO pages.dncrane 2012-01-06T01:49:51.747

Ah, thanks for the clarification. I must have missed reading that part :)Nathan Osman 2012-01-06T03:23:33.857