The ODP site provides a search facility. The search box appears at the of each category page, and allows entry of search terms, and the selection of the whole directory or limiting the search to the current category.
It should be understood that the search is not a full fledged search, as provided by Search Engines such as Google or Yahoo. After all, ODP is a directory, not a search engine.
Another point is that the primary purpose of the search is to help find categories where sites may be listed. It's expected the user will explore the categories found in the search for further sites that my be appropriate.
Search does not index the contents of a site, or any of the meta tags. The only things that will be looked at are the site UTL, Title and Description. Note that the site title is one used in ODP, not the HTML title.
When a search is done, a match is made on the search term(s) for both sites (URL/title/description) and category name.
Although the search system if very rudimentary, it actually does more than some people think. This is the official ODP view on searches: Open Directory Search Guide
However, the reality is the search does not always work as expected. When limiting the results to a category, searching at a lower level category, will sometime return more matches than when searching at the parent category.
The search system is not updated at the same time that sites get published into categories. It is usually updated about once a week (based on the RDF dumps), therefore sites newly added to the directory will not be found in the search. Also, if a description is changed, words in the revised description will not be found. Sites that get removed from the directory will also continue to be found in the search, until it is updated.
The results of the search do not appears in any meaningful order, the first sites or categories listed, are not necessarily the best match.
Search is quirky at time may not always find everything that it should.
Due to system updates, the search system may not be updated as often as once a week.
One other thing to note, since there are several computers/servers that supply the information to ODP users, it's possible the search database on one may not be updated, while the rest are up to date. Since it's random as to which server you are getting your results from, they could be different in the afternoon from what you saw in the morning.
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