Search not returning all items

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Platform (Android, iOS, Website): WEBSITE (on Android tablet)

Browser, if a website issue (Firefox, Chrome, etc) : CHROME

Screenshots of what you are seeing (instructions for taking a screenshot on computers and mobile devices:

Description of problem (please provide a set of steps we can use to replicate the issue, and make as many as you need.):

Step 1: Use search function on “Edit Observations” page.

Step 2: Using “Rustic” or “Sailor” as the search term returns my Rustic Sailor Beetle.

Step 3: Using “Beetle” as the search term does not.

i can’t explain why the string search doesn’t bring back that observation, but if you’re trying to look for all beetles, searching by taxon seems like the better way to search.

In this case, I agree. But this isn’t the only instance where expected observations don’t appear in the search. It was just the best example to show the problem.

what are the other instances?

I can’t remember off-hand, but there have been several occasions where I know I’ve got an observation for a particular species, do a search on a word in the common name, and nothing comes up. I thought I was doing something wrong at first, but when nothing came up for beetle, I knew something was wrong with the search. It may be that all of the incorrect searches involved the word “beetle” - I honestly can’t remember. I’ll keep a more watchful eye out from now on to see if I can identify any other occurrences.

Here’s more weirdness. My observation of the Common Shelduck shows up for “com” (but no other ‘Common’ names appear in this search) but not for “common”.

There are also many of my observations which have “Common” in the name but don’t appear in the ‘common’ search. I stopped counting after 10 or so.

Common Plume Moth
Common Starling
Common European Ambersnail

the old API reference has this to say about the string search:

q = Search query. Note that this is largely intended to be used on its own and may yield unexpected or limited results when used with other filters. If you’re trying to retrieve observations of a particular taxon, taxon_id and taxon_name are better options.
Allowed values: any string

in this case, you would be filtering by both your user_id and q, not q on its own. so it seems like this is a known behavior (that is unlikely to be changed), and if you’re trying to find a particular taxon, it’s better to filter by taxon, not a string.

someone could dig through the code to figure out exactly what’s happening, but the queries that you provided examples for seem to be fundamentally taxon-based queries, and so i think you should just filter by taxon.


This is a pretty old page, and mostly to be used for the Batch Edit functionality. If you want to search through your observations and intending to batch edit them, I recommend clicking on Your Observations in the header and use the Explore page to search.