Can I add hidden metadata like word synonyms to topics to make them easier to find?

There are many different ways to put the same idea in to words. Is there a way I can add stuff like synonyms for words that are relevant to the post so that they are easier to find for people looking for the same thing but not using my exact words, without cluttering the post with visible words or adding global tags?

For example, I was asking about how the context-aware auto complete works in Sublime Text on the Sublime Text forum. However, I noticed that some people spell it ‘auto complete’ while others spell it ‘autocomplete’. A post containing ‘auto complete’ will not be found by someone searching for ‘autocomplete’. Also, many people use the term ‘smart’ instead of ‘context-aware’. Is there a way to add these other relevant words to my post without having them directly visible? I found this reply to a topic that seems to imply that this is not possible:

I feel like adding a list of words at the bottom of a post (as I do below to demonstrate) is not a good solution.

-----begin tags-----
search, tags, metadata, meta data, seo
-----end tags-----


…this feels more like the stemming problem in searching. Searching for a word that has spelling variations; searching for a plural and matching the singular form…

Would be neat if there was an admin interface for a site-specific search synonyms, or something. Then it would be completely invisible (It Just Works™ ) for the regular users.


I agree. I think having a ‘include small word variations’ options in the advanced search page would be a great help. However, including every synonym for every word for every post would probably add a lot of noise to the results when searching, so I still feel like user-defined words specific to a certain post only would be nice. Perhaps this is something that could be done with a plugin.

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This is generally what tags are for, and tags have synonyms.

You could make the same argument about spelling errors – that a search for “guidence” should match “guidance”. It takes some very fancy search engine work for this to be possible, though. Right now we rely on the built in search capability of the Postgres database engine.

In reality, I think the best solution is curation – to have a staff member, or a TL4 user, edit in all the necessary terms to generate a good search match in the body or title of the post. And this is largely why TL2 users can edit the title and category of all posts – because the title and category (and tags) are so important to get right, we share that duty with as many trusted community members as we can!

It’s also OK to have several topics covering the same result, because human beings have the uncanny innate ability to describe the same topic with … totally different words, almost zero in common. I wrote about this years ago:

the TL;DR is

What we want is on the order of 4 or 5 similar-but-not-quite-the-same duplicates to cover all possible search terms and common permutations of the question. It is also OK for these duplicates to have their own answers so people who find them don’t have to click yet again to get to a good answer.


Hmm yeah, that’s actually a really good stance and very insightful. Thank you :slight_smile: