PR search: excluding non-existent author excludes all results

I noticed some confusing behaviour when trying to search pull requests.

While browsing the closed pull requests in this repo, I wanted to exclude PRs from the dependency bot renovate. I tried setting the search query to is:pr is:closed -author:renovate, which was incorrect because the author string should have been -author:app/renovate. A user named renovate actually exists, but has no activity and therefore no commits or PRs on this repository.

In this situation, I would have expected that adding -author:renovate produces the same results as if that term is dropped from the query, but it actually returns no results at all. I’m not sure why this is the case – at first I thought maybe it was because renovate never contributed to this repo, but adding -author:torvalds doesn’t have this effect. It may be a special case when a user has 0 commits or pull requests, or perhaps it’s due to some sort of collision between users and bots with the same name.

The same happens if you try to exclude PRs from a non-existent user, for example:

  • -author:DestyNova excludes my PRs
  • -author:DestyNovaButActuallyNobody excludes all PRs (but should exclude nothing).
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