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[EDIT 23AUG13 - I withdraw my suggestion having gained a bit more experience here, and will provide my own answer (of several possible) (The downvotes one way or the other are of no concern :)) ]

Most hit Stack Overflow (and other Stack Exchange sites) with a specific problem at hand. We search for example code or for possible related answers. The process I use is probably like most: google the question or search here, review the search results and pick the question that seems closest. Then we read it, perhaps review Similar Questions (or tags) ... wash, rinse, repeat.

All that works great --- until later when you have to refind that stack of Stack Overflow answers. This can easily happen when the problem is multifaceted.

Yes, understood there is a history in our profiles, and yes, we can save the links... Or, what I do, bookmark the initial entry point and later recurse through the whole list again. Ugh.

OK - so the little "Star" / favorite flag under the up/down vote is nice --- but what happens when we have a half dozen complex problems? Too many stars - it's like saving a bookmark to Stack Overflow. itself ... of little use. So please before you blast me that I have no search and retrieve skills (which I'd agree!), here's my simple suggestion that the Stack Exchange's database administrators and GUI guys/gals could handle pretty easily: ADD *another* flag icon under the favorite star, perhaps an image of an *exclamation point* with the tooltip saying something like **"Add to current problem solving thread"**. Then in the profile, list all the answers so flagged. Have one simple option there of "clear current problem solving thread markers". This would be a simple, but wonderful addition to ALL Stack Exchange sites, IMO.

[Edit - after some comments received ] - I forgot to mention that this flagged trail could be kept as a breadcrumb trail for others to follow. Certainly I can bookmark or save tabs in my browser - but how would you then know where I went? Isn't Stack Overflow partly to help prevent reinvention of the wheel? The problems are often similar enough that following where others have searched would make things easier.

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I feel like something more along the lines of grouped favourites would be a more general solution to this problem –  StephenTG Aug 21 '13 at 20:03
I just use tabs in my browser. –  JDB Aug 21 '13 at 20:04
This is a feature request @HowardPautz. See the section on voting differences meta.stackoverflow.com/help/whats-meta –  Bart Aug 21 '13 at 20:04
@HowardPautz downvotes on feature requests normally indicate people think said requests should not be implemented –  Jan Dvorak Aug 21 '13 at 20:05
Why not just bookmark and organize your bookmarks into folders? –  apaul34208 Aug 21 '13 at 20:06
for one, it seems overly complex for little use –  Jan Dvorak Aug 21 '13 at 20:08
The question's been open for five minutes. Have some patience. –  Juhana Aug 21 '13 at 20:08
@Bart - thanks I did search a great deal and did not find those questions. apaul - Yes, I do that too, but this idea could be expanded to allow others to follow the same search trail. –  Howard Pautz Aug 21 '13 at 20:08
@HowardPautz meta votes indicate agreement / disagreement, rather than just question quality. –  Jan Dvorak Aug 21 '13 at 20:09
@juhana - ok :)) sorry ... it just seems so aggressively negative after spending time thinking about the post... OK ... I'll sit back :)) thanks all for the prompt, useful comments. –  Howard Pautz Aug 21 '13 at 20:10
@apaul34208 - thanks for that link ... this just caught me off guard. Now understand about up/down votes here. Feedback appreciated. –  Howard Pautz Aug 21 '13 at 20:24
Basically a more complicated version of this: meta.stackexchange.com/questions/125180/… –  Adam Rackis Aug 21 '13 at 20:25
@CodyGray & KerrekSB - thanks for the pointers. thought it would be more helpful trimming it down to not waste people's time. As an editor, you disagree and reverted the question back to near full. I understand why now and respect that. @ Kerrek - I had no veiled goal, and was not thinking of my own benefit when I posted this. But the fast down votes did then make me wonder (personally) ... clearly due to my own inexperience here. (And I did research about the idea, read the FAQy stuff, etc. ... it was the rapidity of the down voting that caught me off guard!) Post and Learn :)) –  Howard Pautz Aug 22 '13 at 15:59

3 Answers 3

This seems like something that you can easily do on your end using bookmarks, and organizing them into folders or separate windows with multiple tabs.

Doing it this way does not only avoid adding additional complexity to Stack Overflow - remember, there are millions of questions and users, and even something tiny like this will be computationally expensive! - it also works with non-Stack Overflow resources. For most problem solving sessions, you will probably have manual entries and blog posts open, not just SO questions.

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please see my edit - it should be a publically accessable feature. Sorry, I disagree with it being too resource intensive - no more than a list of links. –  Howard Pautz Aug 21 '13 at 20:17
@Howard have you ever actually used somebody else's research "path" and gained some productive insight from it that helped you solve a problem? I haven't. –  Pëkka Aug 21 '13 at 20:18
Yes all the time - I imagine you probably do it too, but don't call it a "path" : "here is a tutorial on ... " and "this is a duplication question of " ... "this post was helpful" ... or look at Bart's two links posted above in comments to the OP ... this is a bread crumb trail of sorts. –  Howard Pautz Aug 21 '13 at 20:21
@Howard but those are results of research. Not the breadcrumb trail one accumulates while getting there. I can't see a way in which the breadcrumb trail could be useful to anyone. To me, it's like notes while writing a paper. They're very important while you're moving towards your end goal, but usually you discard them when you reach it. They're not really useful to anyone else because they picture your personal, unique approach to the problem –  Pëkka Aug 21 '13 at 20:22
@Howard if you're talking about the research results, you may like this feature request: Another take on canonical answers: Add a "canonical" vote –  Pëkka Aug 21 '13 at 20:24
yes, excellent. Well, if that feature was declined, then mine here is probably already toast ! Public Canonical Trail is what I guess I should have called my soon-to-die request - LOL –  Howard Pautz Aug 21 '13 at 20:26
@Howard never mind the downvotes - if you check out my profile, you will see I have downvoted suggestions myself. And the founder of the site, Jeff, has even more! –  Pëkka Aug 21 '13 at 20:31
LOL ... well now that IS humbling ... thanks for the confidence booster! –  Howard Pautz Aug 21 '13 at 20:34
Who are you, and what have you done with Pekka? –  Robert Harvey Aug 21 '13 at 20:47
Pekka was off-topic and redacted ? –  Howard Pautz Aug 21 '13 at 21:37
That sounds like the most reasonable explanation! –  Pëkka Aug 21 '13 at 21:38
@not Pekka --- but you're not Pekka, so how could you know ? –  Howard Pautz Aug 21 '13 at 21:51
@Howard you ask much too intelligent questions. Can you give me your current location real quick so I can not send a predator drone to it? –  Pëkka Aug 21 '13 at 21:53
@Howard: Your reputation score will never go below 1. –  Al E. Aug 22 '13 at 0:45
@HowardPautz Nope, rep losses that would put you below 1 are just sent into the void, and have no further effect. (AFAIK, anyway. It's possible a recalc would take them into account if you got some more rep in the meantime.) –  michaelb958 Aug 22 '13 at 0:54

As I said in the comments "Why not just bookmark and organize your bookmarks into folders?" it would accomplish roughly the same task as marking the posts in the way you have suggested.

To accommodate the breadcrumb trail you're proposing would certainly be resource intensive. Even if it is as you claim "no more than a list of links" you have to keep in mind the scale you're talking about, Stack Overflow alone has 2.3 million users.

And it wouldn't be "no more than a list of links" you are also proposing a new piece of ui for 5.6 million questions and 10 million answers, not to mention being able to maintain several different lists and share these lists with others which adds even more complexity.

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up vote 3 down vote accepted

Based on all the comments, but primarily on notPekka's answer:

I've withdrawn my original suggestion of server-side breadcrumbs, tracking where I've been so others could follow. I now understand this would be of little utility and would require excessive resources.

Moreover, such functionality already exists in the system as it stands. (Personal note: But I didn't realize this until I gain some experience.)

It's been there all along: look in the right side div panel and notice the Linked urls ... (DOH!)

The answer is convenience links.

IF there should be a reason to leave a trail, e.g. as I was originally thinking, for a complex problem with many factors and many sub-solutions posted on StackOverflow, then simply take the "organized bookmarked" links and post them into the question/suggestion/answer --- then these will show up in the Linked urls and be easily available to others. The trick is to remember to mark your original entry point.

{ Meta-level commentary: Granted, this answer is very obvious to experienced users - perhaps to the point of being superfluous - but it was not at all to me when I started. (Another personal note - and a note to those new comers who follow: I stand here as an example of someone who should have spent more time learning how things work before posting a suggestion! And I know thanks are considered by many as noise, but I am greatfull for the tolerance and assistance of the commentators here.) }

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