Regex / Wildcard in Search Field of Edit Observation Page

For the page:
https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/username
e.g.:
https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/shanesmicroscope

I think it would be highly useful to be able to use regex/wildcards in the search field. For example, I use tags to organize my observations. My tags look something like this (the underlying organizational system is not important to this example):

  • Tag A: Expedition 50.4 - Microbes in Bird Bath A #2 pt3.7
  • Tag B: Expedition 52.2 - Microbes in Bird Bath A #6 pt1.1
  • Tag C: Expedition 52.6 - Microbes in Bird Bath A #2VI pt0.3

Currently, searching for ‘Microbes in Bird Bath A’ will find all of the above tags.
However, searching for ‘Microbes in Bird Bath A #2only finds Tag A, and cannot find Tag C. Currently it seems I cannot enter a search term that will give me both Tag A and Tag C together, even though they both contain the exact phrase “Microbes in Bird Bath A #2”.

Allowing regex/wildcards in the search would allow users with organizational systems to more easily find what they are looking for. The regex search to yield both Tag A and Tag C would be something like ‘Microbes in Bird Bath A #2.’ while the more typical internet search wildcard would look like 'Microbes in Bird Bath A #2’. Either method seems fine with me. Most users are probably more familiar with internet search wildcards than regex.

Might be similar to what I was looking for here:
https://forum.inaturalist.org/t/search-taxa-with-wildcards/12229

I’m for wildcards in all search fields.

2 Likes

Yes! Regardless of the search field, right now the only options are to hope that the particular search field is restricted to the type of search you want. The Observations page is too soft (A search for “Bird Bath A” returns results with tags as unrelated as “Bird Bath S1”). The Edit Observations page goes the other way (A search for “Bird Bath A” will not find “Bird Bath AV”).

Wildcards, quotes, boolean operators… have all been standard features of internet searches for a long, long time. Perhaps I should have titled my request “Advanced Search Features”, but I think we get the idea =).

You can try to change “#” to “%23” in your URL. There are a problem with this symbol (it separate the query string sending to the server from the hash (a link to the anchor on the page).
Is https://www.inaturalist.org/observations?place_id=any&q=Microbes%20in%20Bird%20Bath%20A%20%232&search_on=tags search what you want?

My browser already makes that unicode switch. Those more inclusive results are what you get by default from the Observations page (as opposed to the Edit Observations page, which I think assumes an exact search but doesn’t allow wildcards). But it’s too inclusive (returns results like “Expedition 55 - Microbes in Bird Bath S1 #2”). I think users should be able to be as precise or relaxed in their search as they want. If I could use quotes in that search e.g. “Microbes in Bird Bath A #2” I suspect it might be closer to what I’m looking for… but as far as I can tell, I can’t tell the search function if I want to be exact or fuzzy.