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I've been stumped for days wondering why when I submit an empty string as a search term, it redirects to part of loop.php where I have the following code inserted:

<?php /* If there are no posts to display, such as an empty archive page */ ?>
<?php if ( !(have_posts()) && !(is_search()) ) : ?>
    <h1 class="notfound-header"><?php _e( 'Not Found', 'twentyten' ); ?></h1>
    <p class="notfound-content"><?php _e( 'Apologies, but no results were found.', 'twentyten' ); ?></p>
<?php elseif ( !(have_posts()) && (is_search()) ): ?>
    <h1 class="notfound-header-search"><?php _e( 'Not Found Search', 'twentyten' ); ?></h1>
    <p class="notfound-content-search"><?php _e( 'Apologies, but no results were found.', 'twentyten' ); ?></p>
    <?php get_search_form(); ?>
<?php endif; ?>

I'm probably not including the is_search() correctly. But I'm working on this site: http://www.cirkut.net/wp/libertyguide and I want to show the search form when nothing is submitted (i.e. just clicking search from the homepage).

Any ideas as to what to do? Thanks for any help!

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up vote 3 down vote accepted

I feel bad for answering my own question on here, but here's what I did.

I created a custom search template, a custom searchform.php and changed my header.php to reflect my custom search page.

What I did is rename the search box names to search instead of s to get around WordPress automatically running search.php and coming up with a 404 error (still not sure why it happened, probably my fault in search.php) and then used a new WP_Query while setting my arguments. While my solution does not provide anything more than a search term, it could be easily implemented to pull other key-value pairs into the arguments array.


<div class="search">
    <form method="get" class="search-form" id="search-form" action="<?php bloginfo( 'url' ); ?>/search/">
        <input class="search-text" type="text" name="search" id="search-text" value="Search this site" />
        <input class="search-submit" type="submit" name="submit" id="search-submit" value="Search" />

search-template.php snippet

$s = wp_specialchars(stripslashes($_GET["search"]), 1);
$search_query = array(
    's' => $s

$search = new WP_Query($search_query);

So essentially s is now search to get around WordPress automatically using search.php.

If anyone has any questions, feel free to post a comment.

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When doing a search with an empty string, WordPress will not do a search and therefore your search page will not be used. Within the $wp_query, a parameter, simply named s, represents the search term. If it has a value of '', WordPress does not direct this to the search page.

As for how you can direct this to the empty search page, I am not sure. I know you could use pre_get_posts to set the s parameter, but that is likely a very hacky/sloppy solution, so hopefully others will be able to help you out with that part.

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Thanks for the information. When clicking search, $s is still technically equal to an empty string is it not? Does WordPress check if there's a search string not empty and then query posts, else if other content? – Josh Allen Aug 22 '11 at 6:50

i found a decent/easy jquery workaround on http://wpengineer.com/2162/fix-empty-searches/, preventing submit if the field is empty:

 * Stop empty searches
 * @author Thomas Scholz http://toscho.de
 * @param  $ jQuery object
 * @return bool|object
(function( $ ) {
   $.fn.preventEmptySubmit = function( options ) {
       var settings = {
           inputselector: "#s",
           msg          : "Don’t waste your time with an empty search!"
       if ( options ) {
           $.extend( settings, options );
       this.submit( function() {
           var s = $( this ).find( settings.inputselector );
           if ( ! s.val() ) {
               alert( settings.msg );
               return false;
           return true;
       return this;
})( jQuery );

And onload:

jQuery( "#searchform" ).preventEmptySubmit();

(This solution also shows an alert, but I prefer to disable it - and just keep focus on the search field...)

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