Imagine being on-the-go or in bed browsing around with a tablet close to falling asleep and stumbling across a (possibly unanswered) question that you know you can contribute to, but not at that very moment because
- it would require typing a lot of text which you rather do on a proper keyboard
- you really need to hit the sack
- you want to test your code before submission
- your better half has been telling you to come to the kitchen table
A short except of what the favorites seem to be used for (loosely quoted) from these links:
- useful information I might need in the future
- rare/unique/fabulous code snippets
- to mark ambiguous questions that I may be interested in, so that I can come back if clarified
- to mark questions that I commented on that involves a new user; they won't know to use @reply
[...] as a sort of TODO list of answers I have given that I may want to refine into a more general purpose piece of software [...]
[...] sometimes because the question is what I would consider to be an "edge case" and I want to know how it's received by the community. I then remove the favourite once I loose interest in the post.
I can relate to all of those use cases, and (for me anyway) this is highly unsatisfactory since you end up using the favorites list to save questions for several different kinds of reasons. The main problem I have with this approach is the mixing of "permanent" keepers with very short-lived temporary saves, which you end up having to go through and deleting them manually on a regular basis. This is a lot of unnecessary overhead and a waste of time that could be spend on actually answering questions, and depending on the amount of temporarily saved questions one or another might slip through this manual process and remain unattended this way becoming an unwanted "permanent" favorite of yours.
There are two obvious main solutions which came to my mind that would help overcome this problem:
The ability to create multiple favorite lists which has been requested before
A special "TODO" button next to the "add to favourites" star that would store a question in a second list similar to favourites
- setup required
- more keystrokes: (a) list(s) need to be created first
- more clicks: to add a question to a list, we would need some kind of fancy dropdown box which means it requires two mouse clicks to add a certain question to your TODO list
- possibly cumbersome UI to access an individual list from your profile for view
- very general
- people can create their own lists for all different kinds of reasons for the sake of tidiness (OCD, anyone?)
- very specific (this might as well be considered a pro); solves only one particular problem
- no setup required
- no keystrokes; works like favorites do - click'n'add
- fewer clicks: It's one button/link, thus only one click
- instantly available to all users
Where this solution shines is that it can do more than just save the question in yet another list for later view. For example, in my scenario where I would use this feature to tag questions as "needs attention, but only if the question is unanswered by the time I come back", I would wish for an auto-purge feature:
- mark as possible TODO
- leave the computer
- come back, open TODO list
- questions that have received accepted answers in the meanwhile would be automatically deleted from the list and not be shown to me any longer, those who remain unanswered would of course be shown
This has a huge advantage over what is possible now (save in favorites) or solution 1 as the manual process of deleting questions could be completely automated. As soon as a question receives an accepted answer, it would be removed from the list (it might receive less traffic because of this, but I don't really think so. Please discuss!).
This also means that this feature could not be used for anything else, which might or might not be a good thing.
I am also pretty sure that not everyone would like the automation to be implemented this way, as our workflows differ. Other people might not want an auto-purge, or one that does not kick in when the list is read but rather after X hours/days, maybe. Please discuss!
Am I totally alone in this?