Amalgamation of "About You" and "Interests" in User Info.
Short, concise description of the idea
Rather than creating an ordered list in the "Interests" section of your User Info and then rehashing that same information in the "About You" section, why not have it that people can click on specific words (specified interests) within their self-description and find other users interested in those same things?
Full description of the idea
Recently, OkCupid.com added a feature that allows users to search for other people with identical interests, similar format to LiveJournal's User Info "Interests".
The way they've got it set up is that they encourage users to "surround anything [they're] particularly interested in with double brackets" ([[ ]]) when writing their mini-biography. For example:
"I spent my afternoons lounging on my couch with a [[cold beer]] and a [[smoke]]. I'm a teacher at the local [[art college]], and I spend a more money than I earn on [[NARS]] [[blushers]], books by [[Neal Stephenson]], and [[dark-roast coffee]]."
The result is that each bracketed term is highlighted in their profile, and users can click on each interest to find other people with the same likes.
- This way, users would be able to personalize and hone in their interests rather than simply dumping out a set of words meaningless to anyone but themselves. For example, one person could write, "My entire life is built around [[Star Wars]] -- I've got over five-hundred action figures, a full set of trading cards, and an anatomically-correct, larger-than-life model of a Storm Trooper guarding my basement door," while another person might write, "My current favorite movies include the latest [[Star Wars]] movie, [[Finding Nemo]], and [[Fight Club]]. They're great!"
- It lets people organize their interests in a meaningful way. I know that I'd rather sort my favorite things into ordered lists of, say, foods, computer games, stores, amateur artists, master artists, and street artists rather than have to contend with a jumbled line-up of two hundred words bearing no apparent relation to one another.
- It gives people a fun, creative starting point to help them write their self-description, which is great if you haven't got any idea as to what to put down. In my case, it inspired me to write up some vivid descriptions -- "I sit down with a good book and a cup of [[dark roast coffee]] at one of the local [[coffeehouses]] at least once a day."
- From my observation, a lot of folks seem to define themselves first and foremost by their interests (hey, it's easy!), and it seems redundant to rehash my interests all over again in my self-biography. The self-biography, however, can contain both interests and anything else you might want to put down about yourself, for example, your hopes and dreams.
An ordered list of problems/issues involved
- There's the obvious grammatical snag -- "car", "cars", "casr", or "automobiles"? Then again, the same problem already exists with the current "Interests" section of the User Info. My best suggestion is to implement some sort of a, "You might also be interested in..." blurb that appears at the start of your results page and lists the alternatives.
- The other problem lies in people forgetting to "close their brackets", much in the same way that a person might forget to close their HTML tags.
An organized list, or a few short paragraphs detailing suggestions for implementation
- Temporarily move the "Interests" section into the "About You" section and then let users edit as they please.