When I do a search with user:AaronLS on stackoverflow.com the first post that comes up has nothing to do with my username. It is contained no where in the post, nor have I answered or commented on the post. I had tried something like this user:AaronLS [flex] binding looking for a specific post, but this seemed to not give me anything relevant to what I searched for. Of course I can scroll through my profile and find the question but that gets annoying and it seems faster to google.

  • If this is by design, then it is a poor design. The results returned from the search I describe have no occurences of anyone with the searched username. If searching by username is not support, then a search for user:SomeName should return no results. When it returns a bunch of unrelated result, that makes no sense!
    – AaronLS
    Mar 31, 2010 at 23:17

4 Answers 4


You can also search using user:me to search for your own user's posts.


You have to use the 'User number/id'. See the number in the URL when you go to your profile.

Yours on Meta is 143774.

  • Thanks. I guess I would say the documentation is unclear then because it doesn't really make this clear in the search tips page.
    – AaronLS
    Mar 23, 2010 at 13:47

I would ike to request that the tag on this be changed from bug to feature-request. I think there is room for improvement on this feature. (I can't make any edits to my original post because the edit screen contains a mod-only tag, and I regardless of whether I leave the tags as-is or try to change/remove them, they are stuck.)

Since the current behavior is by design and thus not a bug. I request that the design be changed to be more intuitive and user friendly using one of the following suggested options. Preferably 1, since I think it would make the user search feature much more useful.

Option 1) Make the "user:" search feature less constraining by allowing the supplied value to match either the user id or username. While matching on the username may give you results from multiple users with the same name, I think this would be much closer to what one would expect the behavior to be. Any other application I've ever used that had a user search was a search using the name, not a system generated surrogate key. Optionally, you could add a "username:" search if you want to ensure that someone searching by id using the existing user:1234 method will only get the user with that id, and not get someone who happens to have "1234" as their name.

Option 2) Keep current design where searching by username searches by the numeric identifier. But make the following modifications: 1.a) A username search should return no results if the string supplied does not match a user ID, such that searching with "AaronLS" would return no results since that is not even a numeric ID. 1.b) If no results are returned and the "user:" string was in the search, display a help message to indicate its proper usage, indicating that the user id, not the name, is required. Additionally, show a partial screenshot of a browser url of the userpage with the user id highlighted, or add the user id as an actual field on the user's profile page with the screenshot showing that highlighted. Since the majority of users have probably never been exposed to this numeric id, they probably will not know where to find it, much less know that it is the mysterious number in the URL of the profile page. The search tips page gives no indication of this, and from the example "user:1234" one might assume that "1234" is just a trivial example to be replaced by "BobsUserName", which would be a futile effort.

Option 3) If neither options 1 or 2 are viable/acceptable, then please consider that it is very confusing to return results when no match was found. If I search for "user:BobsName" and it doesn't match anyone's numeric id like "12345", then how do any results show up in the first place at all? If this is by-design, does this mean it is coded as if no matches, then grab random results ? If so, please change it to if no matches, then show no results)



User names aren't unique -- I could name myself "AaronLS" right now, for example.

  • 3
    @Atwood I don't really care if they aren't unique, if the search returns other people with AaronLS no big deal. The problem is it doens't even do that. When you search for a username the results don't have anything to do with that name at all.
    – AaronLS
    Mar 31, 2010 at 23:11
  • 1
    @Atwood If it doesn't work by username, and only by the id, then a search that has no matches should return no results. Whenever it returns results that has nothing to do with the search then it's confusing and makes one think search is broken.
    – AaronLS
    Mar 31, 2010 at 23:14
  • 2
    I have to agree with @AaronLS, I just tried doing the same thing recently searching by username, and it returned a bunch of unrelated results. It's certainly not the behavior I was expecting. So if you wanted to search for someone's username then how would you do it? I mean you wouldn't know what their userid is to begin with.
    – greatwolf
    Dec 28, 2010 at 21:52
  • 1
    Can you please consider retagging this from bug to feature-request and considering my posted answer as a change request. I was going to edit it myself but I can't make any changes due to the mod only tag(even if I don't touch the tags field, just trying to edit the body is blocked due to the mod-only tag)
    – AaronLS
    Dec 29, 2010 at 18:42

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