How to identify a Users in searches when several results are returned

Users of my app can search for other users by UserName. If, however, they don’t know the exact UserName when it comes to searching, the results will show “near matches”.
So, for example, if you search for “Joe Smith” it might return “JoeSmith” and “JoeSmith1999”. But how do you know which one’s which? My solution is to append their email address to the UserName so it says “JoeSmith (” which should help although Joe Smith may not want his email address searchable.
So I could extract an element of his address but this may equally prove unpopular.
Is there an accepted or standard way of doing this? I do enable users to put photos in their profiles but I’m sure not everyone will.
I’m wondering how others may deal with this (or even if it just isn’t an issue and I’m overthinking things again)
I’d welcome any thoughts.

Hi there, @joefarrowsmith… you might be overthinking things (or not), but the questions that come to mind for me are what is the purpose of the search and what is the user trying to accomplish once they find the right user? I mean, if the user doesn’t know who they are searching for, it might not matter if you provide additional information because how will they ever know for sure that they have the right user?

For what it’s worth, I do the parenthetical email address thing in one of my apps, but the person who is seeing the email addresses is allowed to see them. To your point, that might not work for your app for a number of reasons, so I come back to my original questions.

Anyway, maybe other folks will have more targeted suggestions, but it probably still won’t hurt if you can provide more details about your use case.



Hi Mike
I appreciate your sensible and helpful response.
I think my point could become valid but only later down the line IF this app takes off and becomes popular. As it’s just a relatively local thing for now, I’m not convinced I need to worry too much about it.
My problem is that as I get closer to this getting out there, I start to worry about the What Ifs and it does my head in. Thanks indeed though…I needed some perspective.

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This is the right approach, don’t worry about edge cases that will only start to become relevant when you have tens of thousands of users.

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