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search for string in a text column
hi, i want to make a search related with search tags, and those tags are all stored in the same column, as a text separated by commas. all tags are saved urlencoded, which means all weird chars are stored as %xx, where xx is a number. the only way i know to search for a substring in mysql so far is with 'like'; so i believe if i am gonna search for a series of tags, i have to include in my search something like 'or tags like tag1 or tags like tag 2' etc.
1. is there any other way, besides 'like', to search for a pattern or substring in a string?
2. there is a problem with what i am doing so far, and i was not aware of that before: i save all tags as urlencoded because of security reasons, but the urlencoded uses '%' to save all weird chars.. but the % sign is also used as a apttern match in the like statement, so if i search for something like urlencoded('á'), which i have no idea how would it be but would output something like %xx, how do i search for the exact string '%xx' that represents the á in the database?
i just found out i can escape the % with a \, but anyway, is there any other way to search for a substring in mysql, so i do not have to use expressions? (which would be way slower than search for an exact string, in many rows)