Problems with search’s More Options > Who

Most Valuable Participant ,
May 03, 2009

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To restrict searches to posts by particular users, you’re forced to use the Who field of the More Options of search.   But the Who field has several serious design flaws, making it likely that many people will have problems using it:

1. The Who field requires that you enter a screen name, not first/last name.

The accompanying help and search tips don’t tell you that.  Most users are going to enter the name they see appearing in the message, but if the poster has set the profile option, her first/last name appears instead (E.g. “Barbara Brundage” instead of “Barbara B.”, “John Ellis” instead of “johnrellis”).  This is more likely to occur with frequent contributors.  

2. It is very difficult to find the screen name of a member who has chosen to show first/last name.

The only reliable way I’ve found to find a member’s screen name is to reply to a message she’s posted and click Quote Previous Message (don’t forget to type a space first). 

The member’s public profile doesn’t show the screen name.   Searching for people by checking the People checkbox displays first/last.  You can try to use the incremental search in the Who field, if you have a guess as to what a person’s screen name might be (which can be hard). If you get too many incremental-search results, they’ll overlap with the search results below and all except the first few names are unreadable.

3. If you enter an invalid screen name, it is ignored entirely with no error message.

Combined with problem 1, this leads you to think that the Who field just doesn’t work.

If you wait for a couple seconds after typing in the Who field, the incremental results will confirm that you’ve typed a valid name.  But quick typists are going to move to another field or hit enter to start the search well before the incremental results appear (especially when the forum servers are responding slowly).    I didn’t even discover the incremental search until I’d done many Who searches.

4. Case of the Who field is significant.

“Barbara B.” works; “barbara b.” is ignored silently.  This will lead people to think the Who field doesn’t work, since almost all search facilities on the Web ignore case by default.

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Problems with search’s More Options > Who

Most Valuable Participant ,
May 03, 2009

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To restrict searches to posts by particular users, you’re forced to use the Who field of the More Options of search.   But the Who field has several serious design flaws, making it likely that many people will have problems using it:

1. The Who field requires that you enter a screen name, not first/last name.

The accompanying help and search tips don’t tell you that.  Most users are going to enter the name they see appearing in the message, but if the poster has set the profile option, her first/last name appears instead (E.g. “Barbara Brundage” instead of “Barbara B.”, “John Ellis” instead of “johnrellis”).  This is more likely to occur with frequent contributors.  

2. It is very difficult to find the screen name of a member who has chosen to show first/last name.

The only reliable way I’ve found to find a member’s screen name is to reply to a message she’s posted and click Quote Previous Message (don’t forget to type a space first). 

The member’s public profile doesn’t show the screen name.   Searching for people by checking the People checkbox displays first/last.  You can try to use the incremental search in the Who field, if you have a guess as to what a person’s screen name might be (which can be hard). If you get too many incremental-search results, they’ll overlap with the search results below and all except the first few names are unreadable.

3. If you enter an invalid screen name, it is ignored entirely with no error message.

Combined with problem 1, this leads you to think that the Who field just doesn’t work.

If you wait for a couple seconds after typing in the Who field, the incremental results will confirm that you’ve typed a valid name.  But quick typists are going to move to another field or hit enter to start the search well before the incremental results appear (especially when the forum servers are responding slowly).    I didn’t even discover the incremental search until I’d done many Who searches.

4. Case of the Who field is significant.

“Barbara B.” works; “barbara b.” is ignored silently.  This will lead people to think the Who field doesn’t work, since almost all search facilities on the Web ignore case by default.

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May 03, 2009 0
Enthusiast ,
May 03, 2009

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Unfortunately, a 'search' facility which requires test after test to understand how it works is poorly designed.  Well, I guess the 'search' facility is at least consistent with the overall 'design' (I use the word loosely) of the forum.

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May 03, 2009 0
Enthusiast ,
May 03, 2009

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WHEN IS THE ROLL BACK TO WEB CROSSING?

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May 03, 2009 0
Advocate ,
May 03, 2009

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I believe it's been said in here (and no, I am not about to try and search) - that contracts have ended, others have been signed. I fear we're stuck with it.

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May 03, 2009 0
LEGEND ,
May 03, 2009

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"You aren't gonna say you have a bad feeling about this, are you? I hate it when you say that."

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May 03, 2009 0
Enthusiast ,
May 03, 2009

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Han: I've got a bad feeling about this...

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May 03, 2009 0
Most Valuable Participant ,
May 14, 2009

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And another one:

5. Trailing spaces are not ignored.

It's easy to get a trailing space in IE 8 -- select someone's screen name and copy and paste it into the Who field.  This is junior-high programming.

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May 14, 2009 0
Enthusiast ,
May 14, 2009

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This is junior-high programming.

not without a license it's not!

IBM Patents Removing Leading/Trailing Blanks

http://www.techdirt.com/articles/20090108/0230453331.shtml

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May 14, 2009 0