Make Profile Text Searchable

I originally pitched this idea as a general topic. It drew some interest, seemed like it might be easy to implement, and a couple people suggested making a feature request so I am.

Currently the user (or profile) search is only for usernames or emails. I’m proposing to make users’ full profile text searchable. I think this could be useful in a couple ways:

Primarily it could help find experts in a given taxon or place if they mention it in their profile text (as many experienced users do). Sometimes it can be tricky to find these folks, especially if they are not power users, and this could help.

Secondarily, sometimes you remember interacting with someone or a detail about them from their profile (or otherwise) and want to get in touch or follow up, but can’t actually remember their username. This way you could search for something like “Oh, I remember they are a stream restoration engineer”, search for “stream restoration engineer” and find them that way.

On a broader note, there have been a lot of discussions about the leaderboards and how they are problematic in many ways, but so valuable because they are the primary way to find experts. Thinking about/experimenting with other ways to find experts might be a good long term goal and this could be one (pretty small) start.

So it’s something we could try, but text might have to be fairly unique and might work better for your second stated use case.

Using your profile as an example, it’s possible seaching for anoles might surface you, but it’s tough to say. But we could make it so searches for something unique like Neumann University would be surfaced int he search results.

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