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There has been some discussion about getting notified on comments to questions or answers that don't belong to you, and the long-standing wish to be able to keep track of new answers or developments in questions asked by other people.

Previous discussion in regards to subscribing to questions:

In regards to subscribing to comments:

The general feeling - at least here on meta - seems to be against broadening the notification rules, out of fears of useless notifications to flood users' inboxes, turning SO into more of a discussion forum than it should be, etc.

Here's a suggestion that would keep the user 100% in control what they get notified about, not generate any notifications by default, and require only minimal modifications to the User Interface.

Each question and each comment area would get an envelope symbol.

alt text

it is inactive (=white) by default.

When those envelopes are hovered over, the tooltip says click to subscribe or something.

When clicked on, the envelope lights up in green or some other colour (but different from the actual notification envelope's orange to avoid confusion.) You are then subscribed to any updates to that question or comment thread.

alt text

For each subscription, you receive notifications in the "responses" tab, as if you were the owner of the comment or question.

alt text

To unsubscribe from a question or comment thread, you open the page, and click the green envelope. It turns back white, and the notifications disappear from your responses tab (if technically possible - otherwise, there just won't be any new ones added.)

alt text

No further functionality, like managing subscriptions or anything, is necessary IMO. If the flood of notifications from a subscribed question starts to annoy you, you just open it and unclick the envelope. Done.

  • It would make it possible to leave a comment to a newbie's question and make sure their answer reaches you even if they don't know they need to address you using @username

  • You could subscribe to those "oh, I'd like to know the answer to that" questions and receive active notification, instead of them getting forgotten in your favourites list

  • You could subscribe to discussions you are interested in the outcome of, but don't want to participate in.

  • It would (in my opinion) sort out a number of woes aired by many users in a good way, without adding annoyances to those who like the system just fine the way it is.

  • It would not require a change in the visible layout. As far as I can see, the space the envelope would need to be is empty everywhere.

I don't know SO under the hood of course, but technically, the system would be doing what it's doing already, notify question owners of updates - just that the circle of internal "owners" would grow.

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6  
Now this I can get on board with. Almost every other community-oriented forum/site has a similar feature and its absence on [M]SO is conspicuous. If this gets a status-bydesign then there's going to be hell to pay. –  Aarobot Apr 3 '10 at 22:56
    
I want to see this get implemented as described. If you do too, vote for this: meta.stackexchange.com/questions/52971/… –  Kevin Panko Jun 11 '10 at 15:08
    
@Kevin is your suggestion identical with this one? Because if it is, you may have to be more specific about what exactly you want to be more fine-grained. I understood your suggestion so that there should be more options for what to subscribe to in some kind of a control center –  Pëkka Jun 11 '10 at 15:29
    
Yes, I want to see the envelope icons, just like in the screenshots above here. –  Kevin Panko Jun 11 '10 at 18:04
    
@Kevin, in that case, I am tempted to vote to close yours as a duplicate of mine, instead of upvoting it! (Evil, maniacal laugh) ;) –  Pëkka Jun 11 '10 at 18:22
    
@Jeff I rolled this back from status-completed because the way this currently works (in conjunction with the "favourites" star) effectively makes the favourite function unusable. This would still be good to have as an individual function to monitor questions you're involved in –  Pëkka Jan 5 '11 at 19:33
    
@Pëkka amazing you could do such a thing, think it's a bug that was fixed since then, isn't it? –  Shadow Wizard Mar 10 at 9:31

4 Answers 4

up vote 8 down vote accepted

Ok, so this was largely implemented, albeit in a rather annoying fashion, via the notifications you got when a question you'd "favorited" was modified.

But then came The Global Inbox (Eeek...), and that went away. There is a proposal to bring favorite notifications back, inboxified and meaner than ever - if you yearn to watch, peeping-tom-style, questions that are not your own, I would strongly advise you to up-vote this feature request.

Note that comment notification is now flexible enough to automatically notify folks of responses to posts they've commented on in the most common scenarios (those involving a response from the owner of the post). "Subscribing" to comment threads is probably not going to happen, at least in the form described here - it would tend to encourage lengthy comment discussions, which we'd much rather bump into chat.

In light of these events, and per Pekka's request, I'm marking this - again, if you want to follow activity on a question, let your votes pour down upon this.

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3  
Two years later, lots of water flowed in lots of rivers. Any update? –  Shadow Wizard Mar 10 at 9:28
1  
...probably no update. ^ –  Shadow Wizard Jun 9 at 13:40

This is completed -- if you favorite a question, you will be notified of any activity within it.

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Great new feature! Does this also notify for new comments on the answers? If yes, do I have to favorite my own questions to get these notifications? –  Chris Lercher Jun 4 '10 at 2:38
    
@chris indirectly; the LastActivityDate which gets pushed up to the post level is only edits or new answers, but the recent page DOES include new comments in its tab counts. –  Jeff Atwood Jun 4 '10 at 3:16
2  
According to this meta.stackexchange.com/a/53580/161449 which has the last edit date of Jan 2012, it is not working. Which is correct, this answer, or more up-to-date linked one? (I personally do not recall getting any notification on my favourites, but that might be because they are old and do not change) –  zespri Feb 22 '13 at 7:10

YES!!!

I predicted this here.

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@Chacha indeed you did! I didn't steal it from you, though. Honest. :) –  Pëkka Apr 3 '10 at 12:04
    
@Pekka I just hope it gets implemented –  Tyler Carter Apr 3 '10 at 12:11
    
Yup, me too! I brought this up because I really miss the feature. We'll see. –  Pëkka Apr 3 '10 at 12:17
    
So sad that link is now broken –  Cawas Apr 4 '11 at 17:45

I like it. It's flexible with good control but low complexity.

Also, it helps deal with the fact that the mechanism that is supposed to tell me when someone comments with "@T.J. Crowder:" at the beginning (if I've commented before; there's a note about it here on meta from Jeff) doesn't work for my name, I'm guessing because of the dots. (I can't believe how many places screw up with assumptions about valid characters in names. The dots also mess up SO's user search.) So if I think follow-ups are likely, I can subscribe to comments on the answer and be more helpful to people.

But I've wanted this for a while now, even absent the issue with the auto-notification.

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As an aside, just in case you never read it: officially there should be at least 3 characters to be matched -- How do comment replies work? No words on the dots though. –  Arjan Apr 3 '10 at 11:58
    
(I left a comment for @tjc at meta.stackexchange.com/questions/45075/… Did you get notified?) –  Arjan Apr 3 '10 at 11:59
    
@Arjan: Can't say whether I got notified, I didn't come to meta for a while... –  T.J. Crowder May 11 '10 at 8:44

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