Missing start of array in include exclude clause – How to solve this Elasticsearch exception

Opster Team

August-23, Version: 6.8-8.9

Briefly, this error occurs when Elasticsearch encounters a malformed array in the include/exclude clause of a query. This could be due to missing brackets or incorrect syntax. To resolve this issue, you should review your query and ensure that the array syntax is correct. This includes making sure that all arrays start with an opening bracket ([) and end with a closing bracket (]). Additionally, check that all elements within the array are separated by commas.

This guide will help you check for common problems that cause the log ” Missing start of array in include/exclude clause ” to appear. To understand the issues related to this log, read the explanation below about the following Elasticsearch concepts: search, aggregations.

Log Context

Log “Missing start of array in include/exclude clause” class name is IncludeExclude.java. We extracted the following from Elasticsearch source code for those seeking an in-depth context :

 }  private static Set parseArrayToSet(XContentParser parser) throws IOException {
 final Set set = new HashSet<>();
 if (parser.currentToken() != XContentParser.Token.START_ARRAY) {
 throw new ElasticsearchParseException("Missing start of array in include/exclude clause");
 while (parser.nextToken() != XContentParser.Token.END_ARRAY) {
 if (parser.currentToken().isValue() == false) {
 throw new ElasticsearchParseException("Array elements in include/exclude clauses should be string values");


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