Best Ways to Find Content in Confluence


Confluence 5.8.17, hosted.

I am in an organization with about 8,000 pages of Confluence content. This runs the full range of how-tos, Java technical information, Agile implementation practices, JIRA introduction material, management and organization content.... Confluence is intended to be the knowledge repository for the organization.

One of my jobs is to make this content accessible.

There have been your basic content reorganization efforts, but all the efforts really result in what we already have: the info is there if you know where it is. But if you don't know we have the info, there is no elegant way to find the info, or even know what info might be relevant.

I have played with developing labels for this content, then using the labels to display the related content in a Deck of Cards tabbed structure, but that is just displaying the title.

So then I played with added Excerpt macros and writing a brief description of the content but doing this for 8,000 pages is going to take a while.

The standard Confluence search systems are frankly too chaotic. For a given query there may be a thousand returns, commonly hundreds, which makes finding anything useful virtually impossible.

What are some suggestions for bringing some order to this system?





5 answers

Hi Don,

I too am interested in this... we are building out confluence for our group and I have been thinking about this a lot as well!


Not sure if this will help... but these are the confluence search mechanisms...

Exact Phrase:Type the word or words you are looking for inside quotes (ex. "master pre-req list")

OREnter in the two words you would like to search separated by "OR"

ANDType both words you want to return joined by AND

NOTType both words, with NOT in between

EXCLUDE: Type both words you are looking for and type the minus sign and then the word you do NOT want to return

GROUP SEARCH TERMS: Open parenthesis (word1 OR word2) close parenthesis AND word3


I think one of the most helpful things is the Livesearch Macro. You can add search boxes to pages, which have predefined filters (for example labels, spaces etc.) So you can  enclose the page pool considered in your search

right from the beginning.


I also made another approach in my Confluence:

The best approach (not just in Confluence) to find information is the right structure.

Using the odd spaces can barely provide a deep structure of information though. So what I came up with was using a subspace plugin (for example this one) to define a plausible structure.


Subspaces in combination with the Livesearch seems to be one of the most efficient techniques to filter information in Confluence in my opinion.

Thank you, Marcel. Apologies for the delay in responding but Atlassian, in its wisdom, throttles newbies until points are earned, and the only way to earn points is to post, but you can't post until points are earned....

Are there any similar macros available for the cloud version?

Hi Jennifer,

The Livesearch is available in Cloud, although I couldn't tell from the SupSpace page if it was hosted only.

Yeah, we currently are using livesearch... but I think the Subspace plug in looked interesting... 

HI Jennifer,

Thanks for your info, but this highlights what I am trying to avoid: search roulette - a seemingly endless tweaking of options to try to find useful results.

This bit me when I was discussing a documentation template with some interested users. The template employs the Content Report Table macro to display files containing a specified label. The label in this case was es-meetingnotes. This label works great within the page, but if you exceed the specified number of "hits" defined in the macro you are taken to a LabelText search page.

I found during this demo that with the labelText search, instead of seeing the anticipated six files, I was prompted to sort through in excess of 100. It turns out that in labelText, tokenization kicks in and the search engine was treating es-meetingnotes as four terms: looking at 'es-meetingnotes' , 'es', '-' , 'meetingnotes'.

To get the labelText search to work as desired, I figured out I needed to put the label name in quotes: "es-meetingnotes".

This solves the problem, but the average user is not going to think of putting a search term that includes a dash in quotes. The user is going to look at 176 returns and give up.

Now, this example is not written to damn the Confluence search mechanism. It is doing what it is designed to do. But that design is not helping me in my particular case.


So, lesson learned about tokenization. And I am enough of a geek about this kind of information that it makes perfect sense to me. But for the schlub user who cares not a fig for a tutorial on Confluence back-end logic, this simply means that a search has failed, and does that person try again, or simply give up? Odds are, "give up" wins, and I have failed in my mission to make available information.... available.



I completely understand and agree... I am not super techy and am the one responsible for developing it for our more than 1,000 staff members to use as a knowledge base... any tips you find please share!

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