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So, the old envelope is dead. The huge Eeeek! What happened to my envelope? question has been deleted. Rest in Peace. Also, I know the new recent activity popup is still being refined. So, this post is a suggestion for improvement.

One feature the old /recent page had that we don't have anymore is the list of what has changed recently on each favorite question. Currently, all we have is a list of all favorites. If I get the notification that 1 of my 50+ favorites has changed, it is impossible to know what has happened.

So, the suggestion is to add some kind of interface that shows the changes of each favorite question, sorted by change time. (Similar to the "responses" tab, or the "favorite" tab from the old /recent.)

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You may also be interested in these two feature requests. –  Grace Note Mar 15 '11 at 16:02
    
This should either be added or the favorite changes in the username dropdown (on the top bar) should be removed entirely, they're useless as-is. And confusing as heck. –  Matthew Read Sep 23 '11 at 20:05
    

4 Answers 4

On the favorites tab, highlighted questions are the ones with changes, and the date link beside them goes to the change made (the same is true on the homepage when a question's bumped).

enter image description here

This doesn't show you all the changes made since you visited, but at least you can see what bumped the question most recently.

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This appears to work great, this will save me tons of time. Thanks. I'll hold off giving you the bounty until the end so more can see this answer. –  Lance Roberts Mar 14 '13 at 21:21

First of all: yes, we really need some solution; it's been half a year already that we can't find out what happened when we get a favorite notification. Today I was notified of 1 favorite change, and it took me 5 minutes to find out that it was a comment to this question I favorited months ago.

As for how to solve the problem, there's a discussion opened by Kevin Montrose just one day after the question here: Adding Favorites to the Stack Exchange global inbox. I for my part wouldn't want favorite changes being added to the global inbox, but I like badp's idea a lot, namely adding a fourth dedicated tab to the MultiCollider SuperDropdown™ (mockup stolen from badp's answer):

There's quite enough space in the top row for adding the "favorite" button. As for the "number unread" counter , I see two different options:

  • add another counter (in a different color) for favorite notifications,
  • only show a favorite notification counter (in a different color) when there are no new inbox entries, but show separate counters as soon as I open the SuperDropdown.
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This question isn't really about notification, it's about being able to track down the change once you're notified. –  Lance Roberts Sep 30 '11 at 16:37

To have something like Responses tab would be nice and I have another idea that may be added to it:

  • The system should record internally the date and time the user added a question to favorites.
  • A new "favorites" tab is added beside the inbox in the dropdown. This tab will contains the list of favorite questions.
  • When a favorite question has updates, it will be highlighted moved to top of the list.
  • When the user clicks the question and goes to the question page, the system highlights all answers and comments that have been added or edited after the recorded time.
  • When the user views the page, the system updates the favorite timestamp to prevent the question to clear out the highlights and appear normally next time.

I think this way it would be easier to track multiple updates to single favorite question without going back and forth between the question page and changes page.

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If 4 were implemented then how would anyone look at their entire favorite list, since all checked ones would disappear. –  Lance Roberts Jul 21 '11 at 6:58
    
@Lance Roberts: What I had in mind is to access favorites the way we do now. The list will only contain "favorites with updates". However for more usability, We may make the list display all favorite questions and highlight the ones with updates and move them to top of the list for easier access. I updated the answer with this scenario. –  M.Sameer Jul 21 '11 at 15:15
    
Is your last bullet meant to say "When the user views the favorite"? It's really difficult to do anything consistently when someone leaves a page (computer crashes, power goes out, browser process is terminated, browser ignores javascript-on-exit to prevent spam messageboxes, etc.). –  Matthew Read Sep 26 '11 at 14:57
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@MatthewRead sure this is much more accurate. I will update the point. Thank you. –  M.Sameer Sep 26 '11 at 15:54

It's a huge problem now to find that favorite change, since on a really busy question you'll have to look at every answer, comment and edit.

They also need to change from a 'Recent' sort to a 'Recent Activity' filter like the old 'Recent Activity' page.

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