I pose this question only as an alternative to Pekka's suggestion for user following. I like the idea of providing more value for users with expertise.
As mentioned in my answer to his question, I was concerned that following other users required extra effort to decide who was worth following, and that "recommending" questions would create a parallel system to upvoting, for not much payoff. Completely spontaneously, I thought of an alternative that would leverage the existing SO/SE infrastructure.
The principle of my suggestion is: Rather than following individual users, "follow" the group of users with expertise in the tags you are interested in, as determined by their possession of a tag-badge for that tag.
As mentioned in my answer to the other post, the idea would be that when you choose to follow a tag, you would be presented with an interface at bit like this:
[checkbox] Highlight questions upvoted by users with this tag badge
[checkbox] Highlight questions favorited by users with this tag badge
[checkbox] Highlight questions commented on by users with this tag badge (added)
[checkbox] Highlight questions answered by users with this tag badge (added)
- [radio button] Include only questions tagged [text box - the followed tag would be included by default]
- [radio button - default] Exclude questions tagged [text box]
A similar interface could be shown in the margins of the question list when you filter it for a particular tag, as an additional filter.
The advantages of this proposal are:
- Users don't need to do anything more than what they are currently doing
- Users don't need to work out for themselves who the real experts are, or "maintain" their own expert list
- It distinguishes between expert answerers and frequent askers
- It provides regular and expert users with a way to "up-weight" the opinions of other expert users, without being drowned in the upvotes on questions subject to the "bike shed effect"
- It does not require any new attributes in the database, such as recommendations on posts, or number of followers on users
- It allows for some serendipity, e.g. seeing what c# questions the php experts think are interesting.
- It provides for some of the information-sharing aspects of clan/team affiliation based on tag badges, without creating much of the incentive to game the rep system the way a clan/team system would.
I hope this proposal satisfies some of the appetite for "social-ness" without losing sight of what SE sites are meant to be about.