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Kevin recently asked a question about how to handle favourite changes, and whether to put them in the global inbox. The problem is that the 'use case' for favourites is (I think) not the same for everyone.

I think it would be useful for the team, and interesting for the rest of us, to know what people actually use the favourites for - and if they use it at all.

This is a fuzzy question, with the risk of degenerating into a poll, but I think it's important.

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shouldn't this just be an answer as part of the discussion in the other question? a CW answer? –  RichardTheKiwi Mar 16 '11 at 8:08
    
@Richard, oops. yes maybe, but it's a bit late now... –  Benjol Mar 16 '11 at 8:13
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7 Answers 7

I use them for these purposes:

  1. Useful information - I might need it in the future
  2. Rare/unique/fabulous code snippet - I might need it in the future (can you actually search among favs? I don't have too many at the mo, so I just scan)
  3. to mark ambiguous questions that I may be interested in, so that I can come back if clarified
  4. to mark questions that I commented on that involves a new user; they won't know to use @reply

Can do without notification for the first 2 use cases, but won't really mind. Do want notification for the latter 2.

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+1 for point 1 and 2. –  Time Traveling Bobby Mar 16 '11 at 8:09
    
+1: Exactly right. –  John Mar 17 '11 at 15:35
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Here are some extra use cases:

  1. Using them like bookmarks for canonical questions/answers which I'm likely to need to quote
  2. Using them to get notifications of possible improvements to questions I've downvoted (I don't often do this, but I probably should).
  3. Using them so I get notified if someone answers a question that I'm interested in.
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I use them for notifications about questions I find interesting. Sometimes because I want to know the answer, sometimes because the question is what I would consider to be an "edge case" and I want to know how it's received by the community. I then remove the favourite once I loose interest in the post.

I used to get an "activity log" for my favoured questions, but that seems to have gone with the envelope. I don't care if the envelope never comes back but it would be nice to have the activity log back.

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My major use of the favorites was always the last bullet in Richard list:
Mark questions that I commented on that involves a new user; they won't know to use @reply

Without the evelope though I can't know when such a user posted a comment so I added the /recent page to my favorites and check it regularly. Slower response time, but better than nothing. :)

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If I run out of votes, I favorite posts, so that I can vote on them later on. Other reasons why I use the feature have already been mentioned.

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One thing I have been using favorites for lately is as a sort of TODO list of answers I have given that I may want to refine into a more general purpose piece of software to post elsewhere for others to use. For example, the last four of my favorites on SO contain answers that in all likelihood I will try to refine into more polished and useful tools or demos to post on the MathWorks File Exchange (when I get the chance).

Regarding this use case, it might be a little easier if we had the ability to favorite answers as well as questions. Then it would be a slightly smaller list for me to search through to find the answers I want to refine.

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I use them as bookmark.

  1. I can mark the answer as maybe helpful in future.
  2. I can mark the question as interesting.
  3. I can mark the topic which I'd like to trace.
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