NOT search operator do

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    Frank (Workflowy Support)

    We've recently heard this from others as well. We will take a look and get back to you.

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    S R LINDSAY

    I just signed in to report this is a bug - and found it had been previously reported. Can this be fixed?

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    Frank (Workflowy Support)

    Hi!

    The "Not" operator needs to be used in tandem with some other search term. The way it was explained to me several years ago by Mike, one of the WorkFlowy co-founders, goes something like this:

    • Imagine trying to search Google for everything minus one term... that's the sum total of human knowledge minus one expression/ word.

    And so it is with WorkFlowy... depending on the level one is searching from and the size of one's account... returning one's almost entire account would be quite something.

    ~Frank

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    Alexander Aldrich

    The fix is that all nodes have to be fully collapsed for the NOT search operator to work properly, as the OP mentions. But, I don't think that this is the best way for this feature to work.

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    S R LINDSAY

    On testing this I am not finding that collapsing fixes it. 

    Frank - these appear to be the characteristics:

    1. If the NOT search term (used on its own) finds bullets that are top level bullets which have descendents then they are displayed (i.e. NOT search doesn't work)

    2. If it finds bullets with no descendents, or a child item from the current search level, those bullets are filtered out (i.e. NOT search does work, even without additional search terms)

    3. If it is used with another search term then it is filtered out, regardless of whether it has descendents or not (NOT search works).

    It seems that characteristic 1. is best described as a bug that the Workflowy team could address? 

    So in my usage scenario I have a bunch of items, some which have a tag, some which don't - I want to sometimes just see the items without the tag (i.e. filtering them out), but I can't do this properly because some of them have descendents. 

     

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    Frank (Workflowy Support)

    Hi Mr. Lindsay,

    All good observations... however I'm going to circle around to the fact that one cannot rely on the "Not" operator when used alone. It was not built that way... and search results may be inaccurate. I asked the same question years ago... and so one will have to develop a workflow where you search for one thing minus another. The "Not" operator alone does not work as one would imagine.

    ~ Frank

     

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    Jesse Cook

    Searching your workflowy is much smaller scale than searching the Internet. I could understand having a depth limit of 1 or a timeout. The former being ideal and deterministic for exclusion only searches.

    Here's a use case: consider a unified ToDo list. You want to label all work items. You start adding #work. As you go, you want to filter out only #work items and all their descendants (search depth of 1), so you filter -#work. When you're done that evening you want to check your ToDo list excluding #work items.

    To achieve that you have to add another label to every item (e.g. #todo, so you can filter #todo -#work).

    Maybe the feature request is more complex but I think exclusion only searches of depth 1 is what I'm looking for. I want everything at the current level except items with some label or string.

    I also think depth of 1 searches in general are a useful option.

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