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I feel that a "back" button, one that returns you to the previous page you were on, is a very required feature for Stack Exchange sites. Something like the "Forward" button that exists in Gmail:

gmail back button

Edit

According to the downvotes, if this exists already, it would be appreciated to know where it is.

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closed as not constructive by jmfsg, John, Jim, Toon Krijthe, ChrisF Oct 1 '12 at 21:39

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...Is there a reason that your browser's back button isn't good enough? –  Tim Stone Sep 29 '12 at 23:54
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In meta, downvotes don't necessarily reflect the quality or validity of a question, it just mean that people disagree with what you are saying. –  ajax333221 Sep 30 '12 at 1:21
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I wonder which browser OP is using.... Whoops!!! –  Coding Mash Sep 30 '12 at 6:26

2 Answers 2

Good news! Every Stack Exchange site, and indeed every site on the internet, has a back button. It's built right into your browser:

Back button

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Gmail has a back button because Google uses AJAX heavily to update the same page over and over again. Since Stack Overflow leans more towards Web 1.0 and reloads the page when you navigate, there's no need to waste time with such a feature. Just use your browser's back button.

Should Stack Exchange ever move to a model whereby there is a single page whose content is replaced each time, then it would make sense to have an application back button. However, since AJAX is only used to add in new answers and comments, the browser back button is sufficient. When you move to a new post, the page reloads.

In short, an application back button is by no means a required feature and would be a waste of development time.

Note that, while Gmail may not require a back button, (good points @MarkTrapp), the goals of Gmail appear to be more geared towards acting like an application, not a Web site. We still don't need one here, and the argument against still stands, for now...

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That's not the reason Gmail has a back button. The browser back button, due to page caching, works just as well in Gmail as it does in Stack Overflow. –  user149432 Sep 30 '12 at 0:11
    
Not sure that it matters with Gmail, @MarkTrapp, but when you hit the browser back button, you do lose "state". Again, not sure if it matters as I don't use the browser back button in Gmail. It could very well be that things work just fine. –  jmort253 Sep 30 '12 at 0:13
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In a poorly designed application, sure, but that's not what Gmail is, so this answer is just baseless speculation. In all likelihood, it exists because it tested well for the interaction model. All of Google's threaded properties, like Google Groups and Product Forums, have a "back to list" button. –  user149432 Sep 30 '12 at 0:16
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@MarkTrapp - It does look like the back button in Gmail just calls history.back(), but still, not useful here. Unless of course someone can make the argument that the workflow would somehow benefit from having something that's already solved by the browser. With that said, Google may have done a good job with the application logic of Gmail, but their UI's really suck, IMHO. I wouldn't suggest Stack Exchange developers try to copy what Google designers have done to their products. –  jmort253 Sep 30 '12 at 0:22
    
I wouldn't call the SE model "Web 1.0". It uses AJAX where appropriate but doesn't over-use it for things where it really makes no sense (there are almost no common elements between the various SE pages). –  ThiefMaster Jan 23 '13 at 9:03

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