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In the light of the recently-added feature to automatically notify the user of any changes to "favorited" questions, this term "favorite" is becoming less and less accurate. Some users don't even realize that the best way to "follow" a question is to click the star icon (see the first comment). In fact, they are pretty much equivalent now -- but I feel that the term "favorite" does not really accurately describe its most common use.

Personally, I don't "favorite" some questions purely because of the wording -- I may want to follow question X (e.g. if I have asked a question as a comment), but I don't want to imply that I think it is a good question, let alone a favourite of mine. If this classification were renamed "followed" or "subscribed", I would be much more willing to temporarily click the little star in order to receive change notifications.

Alternatively, "favorite" questions and "followed" questions could be treated separately -- the former would go back to how they were before this new feature (users are rewarded, via badges, for the number of users who say they like the question), and the change notifications are moved to the new designation of "followed questions". However, I'm not yet convinced that there needs to be a distinction between these two states; I'm interested in what others think.

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3 Answers 3

I wouldn't suggest the word "followed" because the term has a different connotation in Area 51. If there is a need for different terminology, I would suggest "bookmark." The already-existing web term is consistent with its function.

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4  
I disagree. When I open my browser I don't get a popup telling me my bookmarks have changed. This is more analogous to a rss reader, so subscribe is more accurate. –  N Reed Jun 10 '10 at 22:36
    
I have always as the OP says, thought of the star as a way of saying "this is one of my favorite questions". Which is of course, exactly the point Ether is making. I don't know if it's a a UI-fail on SE, or just me.... –  Warren in Toronto Jan 24 '12 at 3:36

The name “favorite” is definitely misleading. E.g. see Why not get reputation when your question is marked a favorite by somebody? If favorites will be renamed to BOOKMARKs, it will avoid confusion.

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If it's your "favorite", why wouldn't you be interested in things happening to it?

It just seems odd to me that one would say

This question is one of my favorites!

And then

... but I am totally uninterested in any new answers or changes to it!

That said, there is this request, which I could support:
http://meta.stackexchange.com/questions/51947/allow-users-to-opt-out-of-all-favorite-notifications

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17  
No, this request is the other way around: Just because I'm interested in changes to a question doesn't mean it's a favorite of mine. –  sth Jun 9 '10 at 23:45
5  
Please, please reconsider this... Just like @Ether, I never favorite questions, just because of the naming I don't want to imply I think it's a good question, I just want to be able to quickly find it later, or get notified when something happens with it. –  Douwe M. Jul 17 '10 at 22:59
5  
I think that you misunderstood the request. This cannot be a reason to decline this request. –  Tsuyoshi Ito Sep 17 '10 at 13:34

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