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Right now there isn't a great way to monitor the questions that I am interested in following. What I seem to do now is go to my recent history for questions I have commented on, and then link to the questions from there. The problem is, if I am really interested in a question, I have to monitor it closely. Sometimes I will "favorite" a question so it is easier to access more quickly, because I do not have a lot of favorites. But favoriting is not the right thing to do. I think you should only favorite a question if you really really like it, not to make it easier to follow.

I propose that you can mark questions as "interested" or something like that. What this means, is that you will get notifications for everything associated with a question: any time a new answer is posted, the answer/question is edited, and any comments to any of the answers (or question). This would make it much easier to follow questions. Especially if someone adds a new answer or comment way down the road, after you have long forgotten about the question.

It would also be nice if such a feature allowed you to write a sentence or two to associate with the question to remind you about something. In fact, if this is done, we could just use this feature to implement John Skeet's idea to allow an edit to notify downvoters. Instead of that specific feature, you can mark a question as interested after downvoting and add a comment, "remove downvote when fixed".

What do you all think? Do you propose a better way to manage monitoring questions of interest? (The other thing I do is keep a bunch of browser tabs open with questions I am following... and this is messy :-( ).

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I like that I am getting upvotes, but try to leave a comment when you upvote so that we can get an idea of what kind of interest there is in this. Unless your upvote means you feel exactly the same as I do :-P. –  Tom Jul 2 '09 at 22:52
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+1 No comments ... I feel exactly the same as you do :-P –  Rashmi Pandit Jul 20 '09 at 6:07
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Only reason I looked int Meta Stack Overflow was to find out about this very issue... and here your question was. –  Philip Kelley Jul 21 '09 at 20:01
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+1 I like the idea of the site notifying me when I visit about activity on marked questions/answers. –  tomjedrz Oct 13 '09 at 21:10
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+1. I've been using the favorite functionality to track questions but I would much prefer an "Update me when answers or comments are posted to this question." I see many questions every day on Server Fault that make me go "Hm, now I want to know the answer too!" –  Kyle Smith Oct 23 '09 at 13:57
    
+1. This would be an extremely useful feature. I would love to have an option to track/untrack threads (and probably individual posts as well), and to get email notifications when there is activity on these threads. Daily digest emails are okay; immediate response emails would be a nice additional option here as well. Having to manually monitor StackOverflow threads is tedious when I'm monitoring other forums etc., so having notifications pushed to my email inbox would be ideal. –  Patrick Finnigan Aug 4 '13 at 19:57
    
20 people have favourited this question so they will be notified when notifications are enabled. ;-) –  joeytwiddle Feb 20 at 3:53
    
@tomjedrz and tom Check out my answer meta.stackexchange.com/a/225516/220601 Hopefully it is indeed what you need and all your requirements are met :) –  blunderboy Mar 15 at 8:39

8 Answers 8

Rather than continue to comment on other's posts. I've decided to open myself up to downvotes by answering.

There have been at least two recent metaso questions related to this issue.

Allowing Editor to notify downvoters

Which is about being able to be notified on edits on only a single post. Not the entire question (RSS feed and/or Favorite)

What level of notification should we have regarding questions we have posted an answer to (or left a comment) ?

Which is about being able to be notified on comments on only a single post that has been commented on.


Basically, these all fall under the same broad category of being able to get MORE information about specific things that are changing rather than broad strokes.

RSS - doesn't cover this problem, because the RSS is on the entire question, which, if the question is very active, would be an incredible amount of noise if you are only concerned with one answer. Also, as noted in my comments, I prefer my Outlook inbox to be for work emails, but that doesn't mean I don't want to be notified about these things when I log in to SO.

Favorite - I can favorite a question, but then I have to manually check every one of them to see if any comments have been added, or any of the pieces of it have been edited. And again, I would still need to click through in order to check if the particular post I was concerned with was edited.


My suggestion for these were enumerated on both the previously linked questions, but I feel it's worth repeating.

Have a checkbox on every individual post that says "notify me when this is edited" which would generate a notice in your "SO Event Feed" (the thing that shows up when you click the mailbox).

Have a checkbox on every individual posts that says "notify me when this is commented" which would generate a notice in your "SO Event Feed".

A third option would be to merge those two, since it seems likely that people who want to follow the comments would also follow the edits.

That way, you could choose precisely what you want to be informed of.

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This is implemented -- if you favorite a question, you opt in to updates on that question and they will show in your /recent/ and light up the envelope, just as if you own the question.

Update: the feature has been pulled temporarily and is not currently available; see comments below.

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Thank you, this certainly fulfills the request. The only thing I'd like to suggest now is a change in semantics. The feature is more of a "save" function than a "favorite" function. Also, there is no reason to show a "favorite count" anymore since the count should not reflect on a question's rank or merit -- it's an ambiguous number now, a user could "save" a question for any reason, not necessarily because it is a good question. –  brianpeiris Jul 30 '10 at 7:16
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More precisely: Call it a "watch" function, change the icon to an eye and remove the count. –  brianpeiris Jul 30 '10 at 8:08
    
So I should be getting notifications for favorited questions in my Stack Exchange inbox, and therefore via email (as configured in the top-left of this page)? That's not the answer I got here: meta.superuser.com/questions/3613/… –  Orion751 Oct 27 '11 at 3:03
    
Thanks, Jeff! (I know this comment is coming quite late :-) –  Tom Jan 3 '12 at 8:59
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@tom well, don't thank me yet -- this functionality was pulled, and we haven't quite figured out a way to change it yet. Current thinking is for the star click to trigger a "do you want to be notified about this question?" with some "always do this" options. –  Jeff Atwood Jan 3 '12 at 9:03
    
Hmmm... I thought I was getting notifications for all my favorited stuff at least... and I thought I've been seeing replies to my comments in the stackexchange pull down... –  Tom Jan 3 '12 at 9:08
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Jeez Jeff! We've been waiting for years and years for this. What about just building a mini rss-reader into the notifications box as a fourth column, and I can add the rss feeds from 'watched' questions with a single click? Should take you about a day to implement ;-) –  Govert Jan 14 '12 at 18:15
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Please implement this soon Jeff. –  Tyilo Mar 9 '12 at 14:50
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This answer was last updated over a year ago, to indicate that the answer was temporarily wrong. Is it ever going to be right again? –  user1671913 Jan 19 '13 at 0:54
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@JeffAtwood - what's the status on this issue? –  Shai Jun 12 '13 at 9:04
    
So, will notifications for favorite posts eventually come back??? –  Steven Roose Jun 20 '13 at 8:17
    
Are there any updates regarding this issue? –  Dror Atariah Sep 10 '13 at 7:03
    
Will this ever come back? –  eleom Nov 22 '13 at 22:51
    
still waiting... –  codefreak Jan 23 at 10:50
    
"It seems that you can check for updates to your favorites by clicking on your favorites tab and sorting by activity." said codewaggle on this page. (The URL is <your_profile_page>?tab=favorites.) –  joeytwiddle Feb 20 at 3:48

Not sure I agree 100% with this:

Sometimes I will "favorite" a question so it is easier to access more quickly, because I do not have a lot of favorites. But favoriting is not the right thing to do. I think you should only favorite a question if you really really like it, not to make it easier to follow.

Maybe I'm not clear on just what exactly favorite questions are supposed to be used for. I thought the only reason to favorite a question was because you wanted to be able to find it later. It doesn't count as a second form of voting, in my mind.

However, I would support your suggestion that we could mark questions to receive notifications, especially for the purpose of tracking comment threads on questions/answers I don't own. I have made a few feature requests that are a little similar:

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Most popular comment I make is:

Could You please include some example input and desired output examples?

This happened several times. How do I return to this question to see if I can help? I could mark the question and search through them manually later... But the 'favourite' feature has been named like this for a reason. It's designed to help You mark the questions You like for some reason, the ones that are valuable for You - and this is how I use it.

To see later if the question was edited, I send myself an email with a link to the question. I then review it after a day or so, but this is NOT how programmers do things.

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Looks like I am posting on an old thread but I am pretty sure all people in this post will like it. I have build StackEye - A Chrome Extension for exactly same purpose.

You can use StackEye

  • To watch/follow any question for new comments and answers on it (Feature came in v1.0)
  • To follow other users on stackexchange (Feature came in v2.0 currently available in chrome store).

Install StackEye from chrome store and go to a question page and click on the eye button to follow it and there you go. Just sit back and keep doing your work, once there is any update on the question StackEye is watching it for you and notify you in the extension popup. Quick look at these screen shots

enter image description here

Browser popup looks like

enter image description here

List of all the questions you are watching

enter image description here

StackEye does even more viz Follow user as well. Check out more screenshots available at Stackapps page. And do not forget to give it a try if you like it.

Edit Forgot to mention that StackEye also notifies about new comments and new answers. Rest other type of activities (edits/upvotes etc) are not taken care of intentionally. Just not to irritate users by a lot of unnecessary notifications. Hope it make sense to others as well :)

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Why not provide two different methods of monitoring questions?

  • Email Notification
  • Question appears in Recent Events feed

I've just signed up at ServerFault.com and find that having no suitable monitoring mechanism for questions a little lacking. I participate at a number of Q&A or forum sites, all of which have some method of tracking updates to a thread, such as a feed on logging in to the site or email notifications.

Your best option here is going to be adding changes to monitored questions automatically to the Recent Events feed. Then provide an option in member profiles to control whether a user wishes to receive the email notifications.

This satisfies two requirements - people receive notifications by email if they wish for them. Those who don't, or those who participate at SO or SF regularly will see a feed of recent updates on logging in.

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Use the RSS feed for the question? I know that this is not the most ideal (can't see comment posting, etc.) but until a better solution is implemented, this is what you are stuck with.

Note: I am not saying that a SO-based solution would not be nice, I am just giving an alternative option compared to a brand new feature that needs to be designed and implemented.

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I'll be honest, I never noticed the question feed :-/. I can see a lot of people liking that if you are into that sort of thing... I personally would like the feature integrated in the site. But that's just me. –  Tom Jul 2 '09 at 13:44
    
(-1) I don't want SO to clutter my inbox. I think SO should be self contained, so that when I visit SO, it has my SO related information. –  devinb Jul 2 '09 at 13:46
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devin: If you don't want SO to clutter your inbox...don't subscribe to the feed? I'm a bit lost here as to why you think this is a bad idea or solution to a problem about how to receive notifications and updates. –  TheTXI Jul 2 '09 at 13:50
    
Wait... How does a RSS feed 'clutter your inbox'? –  GEOCHET Jul 2 '09 at 13:51
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@TheTXI: I see your point, but in devinb's defense, I think he may just mean that he'd rather keep everything SO related on SO. (I kind of share that sentiment). I think this feature would nice too because you could have a nice list of questions to follow in your user profile that you can manage on this site, and keep short notes on the questions. I will probably use the feed solution since it's the best one out there... but I still think there is use in having this as a feature. –  Tom Jul 2 '09 at 13:55
    
@Tom: So use the 'interesting tags' feature then. I fail to understand the issue here. –  GEOCHET Jul 2 '09 at 13:58
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I don't have a problem with any sort of future management tool that makes it easier to track your activity and what's going on in there from inside the site. I'm just saying that the RSS feeds are already there and available if you choose to use them. –  TheTXI Jul 2 '09 at 13:58
    
@Tom: There is also the 'favorite' feature. –  GEOCHET Jul 2 '09 at 13:59
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My bad. What I meant to say was. (Allow me a moment to collect my thoughts) I would like to be able to subscribe to a question (or a particular post) and have the events sent to my SO Event Feed. My outlook is strictly for work email, and so I don't want my SO emails cluttering up THAT in box. Also, Tom said what I wanted to say. –  devinb Jul 2 '09 at 13:59
    
@DevinB: Again, how would RSS clutter your outlook inbox? –  GEOCHET Jul 2 '09 at 14:00
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@Rich B: I don't really think this concept is ridiculous... I think it would improve the quality of the site. There is clearly more than can be done with this feature that you just can't get from subscribing. This is a very interactive site, so I don't feel that just subscribing is a great solution. If this feature were integrated in the site, it could benefit from other site features. Also, I think the machinery is sort of in place... users already get notifications about certain updates. This is just broadening the scope of such updates. –  Tom Jul 2 '09 at 14:21
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I actually like the idea of an external application so that I can monitor multiple sites (such as SO, SF, MetaSO) all at once instead of having to monitor each one's recent activity page). –  TheTXI Jul 2 '09 at 15:55
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But why should I be forced to use an external tool in order to keep up with SO? The functionality already exists ("Recent events") and I am simply suggesting we add another item to it. You said that you use google reader as an aggregator, which is great, but that assumes a certain style of usage and I don't use SO the same way you do. I can't necessarily use SO all day, and I can't always watch the reader all day. So I would love it if I could get all the SO-related information when I log into SO. Why should I have to use another tool to get my SO stuff? –  devinb Jul 2 '09 at 17:06
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@Rich B: After reading your follow up question about getting comment updates, it seems right now the Google reader approach is subpar. I really don't like it that much, but I definitely wouldn't mind it as much if comments were available. I wish other users would chime in and give some input... I think it's safe to say we can agree to disagree. I still think there would be some real benefit to SO implementing the feature. Users would use it, and it would add to the experience (IMO). The fact that you wouldn't use it, or that I would use it though, is not helpful. We need more input. –  Tom Jul 2 '09 at 18:16
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@Rich again, the functionality ALREADY EXISTS. They already notify you is someone comments on your question, so they would have to extend it so that instead of notifying the poster, they notify the list of 'usbscribed users' on that post. And, as we've already noted, the 'existing application' that we'd be 'duplicating' does NOT cover this functionality. –  devinb Jul 6 '09 at 16:34

To expand upon TheTXI's answer, I use RSS feeds combined with Google Reader. I feel it is a real winning combination.

It seems to me that between RSS feeds, interesting tag filters, favorites, and the recent history envelope, you should be all set. What are we missing?

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(-1) for the same reasons I articulated (however weakly) on theTXI's post. Also, because your answer is almost identical to his. –  devinb Jul 2 '09 at 14:00
    
@devinb: I suggest you read more carefully then. –  GEOCHET Jul 2 '09 at 14:05
    
@rich, you edited it at the same time I commented. My apologies. My critique (that they are identical) no longer applies. However, as I enumerated on my own post (I imagine you'll downvote it (as you should) because you disagree) I don't feel that RSS, Tag Filters, and Favorites cover this. –  devinb Jul 2 '09 at 14:13
    
@devinb: Even before my edit, the two answers were not the same. –  GEOCHET Jul 2 '09 at 14:16
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@Rich. he said "Use rss?" you said "I use RSS + Google Reader" The only addition being "google reader" which is (as I understand it) an RSS reader. Which means that you answer is "Use RSS + some application to READ RSS" which I think is implied in theTXI's answer as well (I didn't assume he meant "subscribe to RSS then don't read it"). –  devinb Jul 2 '09 at 14:28
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@DevinB: Google reader is a very specific solution to this issue. Try it, you might see why it is such an addition to the 'just use RSS' idea. –  GEOCHET Jul 2 '09 at 14:46
    
Gotta agree with Rich here - Reader makes large numbers of feeds manageable without a lot of busywork. And you can access your subscriptions anywhere. It's a nice bit of work. –  Shog9 Jul 2 '09 at 18:35

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