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FAQ – Help with searches

Keyword search

The most common type of search. Just type a keyword in the “Search” box with a looking glass icon (🔍). Most people just search for a character’s name.

You can search for parts of a word. For instance “dare” will return Daredevil as one of the results.

You can use quote marks. Whereas searching for new warriors (no quotes) will search for entries that have the word new and the word warriors, searching for “new warriors” (with quote marks) will search for this specific expression. Which means much more relevant results.

Using quote marks can also be useful if looking for a DC Heroes RPG Skill or Power. Say, “Flame project:” with the quote marks and the colon, to match the standard writeups.org notation in DCH stats blocks.

First you’ll get the results with the keyword in the title, then the results with the keyword in the text of the article.

If you want to run more complex full-text search, keep reading.

Naming conventions

Honorifics aren’t abbreviated. So it’s “Doctor Strange”, not “Dr. Strange”. Or “Mister Fantastic” rather than “Mr. Fantastic”.

We generally omit any “the” in the name. So it’s “Thing” rather than “The Thing”. Except in a few cases where it just looks too weird.

Arbitrary names are given in quotes. This is used when a character is never named, but we still need to refer to them in some manner. So we make something up — say, Bob — and list it as “Bob”, with quote marks.

Ranks (say, military ranks) are frequently given as part of the name.

Faceted search

A more involved use of the search page is to generate lists of entries that fit certain criteria.

Set criteria

The criteria are :
A/ The categories and subcategories. For instance there’s a category for article about comics, and within this “Comics” category there’s a “Marvel Universe” subcategory. Clicking “Comics” will display all entries about Comics. Clicking “Marvel Universe” will display all entries about entries that are about Comics set in the Marvel Universe.
Note the “+” and “-” toggles to expand and collapse the tree, since there’s a lot of subcategories.

B/ The power level. We’ve define four rough categories of power, plus “not applicable”. If you need definitions, read on.

C/ The roles. We use eight rough roles.

D/ Game systems. This is primarily useful to find the articles that have M&M/DC Adventures game stats. We are slowly assigning a “DC Heroes/BoH” flag to the entries, but this is to be pedantically thorough. All entries that have stats have DCH/BoH stats.

If the results seem oddly sparse, make sure that there isn’t an extra box ticked somewhere ! There are many categories and sub-categories, so all the menu might not be visible at once. *Especially* on smartphones.

Set criteria (continued)

You can mix and match.

As a random example, you can click Comics -> Marvel Universe, *plus* the Character (Heroic) Role, *plus* the Heavy Hitter Power Level. And blam — you’ll see the 22 (as of this writing) entries that are about particularly high-powered super-heroes in the Marvel Universe.

Or you could generate a list of 1980s movie villains who have writeups.org profiles (20 as of this writing).

Note how the numbers change as you click or un-click boxes. These indicate in real time how many results exist on writeups.org for the set of criteria you’ve selected.

For instance, the subcategory “Black Lagoon” states that there are (as of this writing) 17 results. But if you have the role “Character (Heroic)” ticked, it now displays a “1” rather than a “17”. Because only one character in the “Black Lagoon” subcat qualifies for the “Character (Heroic)” role.

Our faceted search is primarily useful for people looking for characters to put in a story. Such as a tabletop role-playing game session, or fan fiction.


Tags are an additional criteria. They behave just like the others… except that there are a *lot* of different tags. Too many to list them in a menu.

So to use tags, you’ll want to check our page about tags. It explains what exists, what it means, and which ones are fully deployed.

Or you could just jump in, I guess. If you want to read about Asian characters, typing “asian” in the tags box will indeed bring up the tag with “asian” in it. And once you have that you could, say, cross it with the “DC Universe” subcategory.

Still, it’s best to read the tags page first 😺. For instance, if you type “asia”, you see that there exists a tag about Asian countries… with (as of this writing) very few entries. That seems disappointing, but if you’ve read our page about tags you’ll know that it’s because we’re in the process of making our geographical tags more precise. And these’ll take years to populate.

Clicking on listings in articles

Almost all articles start with the criteria – such as the Role, the Categories, the Subcategories… — for who/what is being discussed. These are clickable, and will take you to a “prefilled” search page.

For instance, say that I like Spider-Girl (May Parker). I remember that she didn’t quite appear in the “mainstream” Marvel Universe, but I’m fuzzy on that. So I check her character profile, and the categories say Comics –> Marvel Universe –> MC2 Future. That’s what it was called ! MC2 !

If I click on “MC2 Future” in Spider-Girl’s entry, it takes me to the search page with “MC2 Future” already ticked. So I can see all the entries for characters who live in the same future reality than Spider-Girl.

Deep full-text searches

We don’t have the money to have both a good facets search and a good full-text search. Especially with millions of words to index.

So if you want to do complex full-text searches, you only have the basic — and terrible — WordPress engine. It doesn’t do relevancy, and will grep within words. For instance, “permafrost” will show up when searching for “afro”, which isn’t super-useful.

Therefore, if someone somewhere needs to do more sophisticated full-text searches, please use this custom Google search instance  . It’s a normal Google search, but limited to writeups.org. So yes, you can do sorting, Booleans, etc..

Appendix – power levels

The old version of this help page had definitions for the rough Power Levels we use. I’m not sure whether it’s useful, but let’s keep it around just in case.

  • Street-level is action heroes and super-heroes with no or few powers. Their opponents tend to be mobsters, the police, gangs, enemy soldiers, minor monsters such as zombies, etc.. Daredevil, Sergeant Rock, action movie characters, heroic fantasy fighters, etc. usually belong to this tier.
  • Mid-level is “full” super-heroes (or their foes), with potent superhuman powers and/or superhuman skill levels. Spider-Man, Aquaman, most X-Men belong to this tier.
  • Heavy hitter means exceptionally powerful super-heroes – or their foes. Superman, Wonder Woman, Thor, Green Lantern, the Silver Surfer, etc. belong to this tier.
  • Cosmic level characters are off the scale. Think Galactus, the Celestials or DC Comics’ Spectre during eras where he’s hitting people on the head with planets.