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I've seen issue after issue here on Meta where the behavior of the sticky tabs is unintuitive and confusing, but the one I recently solved takes the cake. Steps to reproduce:

  1. Visit the featured tab on a tag. This will now cause the featured tab to "stick" and be the tab presented when visiting a tag page.
  2. Wait minutes, hours, days - long enough to forget that you were looking at featured questions earlier.
  3. Perform a search where the search term is a popular tag. The system sees that this is a tag, and you are redirected to the tag page.
  4. Stare incredulously at the screen as the system declares "0 questions tagged grails"

Though this could be considered a kink in the new search system, I think that it's symptomatic of the confusing "sticky tabs" that the tags pages have.

I propose the sticky tabs are eliminated and replaced with the &sort= URL parameter. If this parameter is not present, the view should default to a predictable tab, regardless of the tab the user was viewing the last time (I recommend "active").

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I think Jeff really likes this functionality =x –  Ian Elliott Jul 30 '09 at 5:47
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I remember back in the day when people were like - "Hey, remember the tab I was on!!! Why aren't you saving it?" - Not everyone can win. –  jjnguy Jul 30 '09 at 5:47
    
It would be possible to implement sticky-esque tags by making the tag links on a tag page contain the same sort parameter in their URLs. This would make navigating the page consistent, but remove the memory once the tag page is navigated away from. And if people use a specific tag page to search for active/new/unanswered questions, they can simply bookmark the page and return to it later, sort order intact. –  Kyle Cronin Jul 30 '09 at 6:00
    
try now -- we have help text to let people figure this out. –  Jeff Atwood Jul 30 '09 at 14:09
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@Jeff: That does help explain why there are no search results, but if there are questions that come up it can still be confusing why there aren't more (stackoverflow.com/search?q=gmail). Perhaps you shouldn't 'stick' on the featured tab and/or the side bar should say "1 featured question tagged gmail" and not "1 questions tagged gmail" –  Kyle Cronin Jul 30 '09 at 16:07
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2 Answers 2

Agreed, though I would prefer it to default to "Newest" (just my opinion though).

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It doesn't really matter, as it's easy to bookmark either (as the sort will be in the URL) and easy to switch if need be. I just think that "active" is more consistent with the view of the front page (as that, too, is sorted by active). –  Kyle Cronin Jul 30 '09 at 5:31
    
Yeah, I realise that - its just that it seems most people seem to use the newest page (meta.stackexchange.com/questions/8137/…) –  a_m0d Jul 30 '09 at 5:47
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Rather enjoy the sticky nature of the tabs from one day to the next. Some hours feel like an "active" view. While others are in the "newest" kind of mood.

Doesn't seem that unintuitive.

Then again, there was a period when stuck on "votes" and wondering why the unanswered questions set never changed.

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A less drastic solution might be acceptable - how about never sticking on featured and/or removing the stick after a certain time interval? I'm not that happy with either, but it would give us both what we want. –  Kyle Cronin Jul 30 '09 at 6:07
    
Unstickying the sticky tabs after a certain time sounds like a good working prop for both sides. –  random Jul 30 '09 at 6:29
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