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