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Here's an idea. Stack Overflow should have an aggregated stream of updates concerning posts an user is "involved with," as well as other stuff (getting badges, etc.).

Currently, users only get notifications when their own questions are answered (unless I've missed something). But if I answer or comment on an answer/question, I'm usually interested when someone else comments on/answers that question.

Having a news feed page where all this is aggregated into a nice river of news, similar to Facebook's, would be really great, I think, and would increase activity on questions and comments overall.

Sure, it might get a bit hectic for popular questions that generate a lot of comments and answers, but you could have logic for managing that. For example, not showing additional answers after n posts, or after the question is a certain number of days old, etc.

You could mark people as "friends" to have them show up in the feed. It would be nice to see what your developer friends are answering and commenting on in your feed as well.

This might sound a bit too much like Facebook for some, but it's just to be able to easier follow and participate in discussions and answers. Everything that gets people more involved is good in my opinion.

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-1 for SO doing anything like facebook. This is not a social network. Please please please DO NOT integrate SO with facebook. And there is already RSS feeds on most content pages if you want updates etc. – David HAust Nov 16 '10 at 22:19
I realize there's a stigma attached to facebook, and I don't suggest it should become more like it per se. But as I said the news feed would be pretty useful and have nothing to do with being a social network. Actually integrating with facebook might be a more doubtful – Mattias Konradsson Nov 16 '10 at 22:58
You can "favourite" questions if you want to be notified when they change. – meagar Nov 17 '10 at 0:37
Both RSS and actions require an action from the user and the feed would do so much more. I don't see having one page where you easily could get updates automatically could be such a bad thing – Mattias Konradsson Nov 17 '10 at 0:40
@Mattias - It would absolutely be more like a social network, when you're voting on, following, concentrating on the person and not the posts you've taken a wrong turn IMO. – Nick Craver Nov 17 '10 at 2:45
@Nick The feed would be mainly your tool to keep updated about your posts, the ability to add "friends" that feed is entirely optional and added as an afterthought and can be discussed. Personally though I don't see the problem in it being easier to find content from people that you find interesting as well. – Mattias Konradsson Nov 17 '10 at 3:12

I wonder if you could do most of this yourself with a bit of API usage via Stack2RSS .

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I probably could, but it's probably a feature best integrated directly into the site – Mattias Konradsson Nov 16 '10 at 21:10
I wanted to give you a way to do it because I expect this to be declined. "Repeat after me: SO is not a social networking site" from…) – Brian Nov 16 '10 at 21:39
I agree, but the news feed is more about being able to track questions and discussions you're involved with thus increasing participation, not so much about "casual socializing". I think the news feed has been the single biggest feature of facebook that really has drawn people into the site since it keeps updating and draws you into conversations – Mattias Konradsson Nov 16 '10 at 21:55
@Mattias. There in lies the problem. SO is in fact NOT about conversations, but about technically correct answers to a question. It is at it's core different from Facebook. However as pointed out, this is the exact reason the API was created, so I highly doubt this will be implemented. – BinaryMisfit Nov 17 '10 at 6:51
The commenting and different answers do infact constitute a conversion around the correct answer, I don't mean casual chatting – Mattias Konradsson Nov 17 '10 at 10:15

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