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I think it would be nice to have a "friends list" on Stack Overflow. This would allow us to be able to follow the questions and answers that are posted by users that we want to watch/monitor.

I suggest it be implemented in the same fashion as DotNetKicks.com; where you can add someone to your "friends list" without them needing to approve you the way that other social networks do it. It should be completely open for us to add anyone to our "friends list" that we like.

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RSS feeds for this already –  Steven A. Lowe Jul 10 '09 at 2:15
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What about an enemies list? To much like the Nixon administration? –  Axeman Jul 19 '09 at 23:34
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Just something else Jon Skeet could be #1 in! ;-) –  Dexter Jul 22 '09 at 20:29
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@Steven yeah but RSS feeds u need a separate app/toolbar to track that. Maybe StackOverflow could use some sort of friends bar, similar to Facebook. I just sent this same feature suggestion to contact us and SO lol! Just found out about meta :) –  Leon Oct 1 '09 at 4:02
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I can favorite a question and I can mark a tag as interesting but I can't star a user in any way? Adding a new table of "my favorite users" would in no way transform StackOverflow into a social network. I think it's a very reasonable suggestion. –  Portman Nov 5 '09 at 4:14
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This is a Q&A site - of course you can favorite a question or mark a topic as interesting. If I wanted to stalk people I'd be on FaceSpace or something. –  AnonJr Nov 24 '09 at 13:10
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Feature creep ! –  Randell Dec 14 '09 at 6:57
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I made an account on this site just to suggest the friends list idea. I have run across people that I'd like to track later. Just because SO isn't twitter doesn't make the friend list feature inappropriate for here. –  jjohn Feb 1 '10 at 3:54
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I also just created an account to suggest this same thing. I have 2 colleagues in my office and would like to be able to see the questions they have asked as we work on the same projects. I don't see why people are suggesting this would turn the site into a "social networking" site, I think they misunderstand why people are asking for this. Does the fact that this feature has bee "declined" mean that it will never be considered now, however many people want it? –  jonhobbs Feb 26 '10 at 15:53
    
@jonhobbs: you can easily do that by picking up the SO user RSS feed for your colleagues. –  Peter Lillevold Mar 17 '10 at 9:23
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You can already follow a person within SO (no feeds required): List of python questions by Alex Martelli sorted by votes –  Amarghosh Aug 31 '10 at 9:08
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Oh hi again. Why was this edited? –  Ólafur Waage Mar 30 '11 at 11:16
    
@Olafur: It's explained in the edit summary. –  Andrew Grimm Mar 30 '11 at 11:41
    
@Andrew I saw that but was this really necessary? –  Ólafur Waage Mar 30 '11 at 21:57
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@Portman SEI has been very adamant from the beginning that there will never be voting - of any kind - on users. Only posts. They've loosened that rule for moderator actions (they mark users for various reasons) which, IMO, is reasonable. However, it will be a long, hard slog to convince them to allow "favoriting" of users simply because that is a sort of vote on a person. I suggest that if someone is really, really keen on this - develop a stackapp that runs on tops of stackoverflow using another webservice and a userscript to add social networking features. –  Adam Davis Jun 13 '11 at 13:48

26 Answers 26

Repeat after me: SO is not a social networking site.

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Why not? It's a place to ask your peers questions and get real answers from those that know the topic in question. It could be a great place for people to network with one another in a professional manner. –  Chris Pietschmann Jun 30 '09 at 1:03
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It's pretty social (maybe there's no networking, but you can't deny it has all the features of a really dysfunctional social relationship). –  Michael Pryor Jun 30 '09 at 3:33
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+1 - Encouraging social networking could damage SO's primary function as a question and answer forum. –  ConcernedOfTunbridgeWells Jun 30 '09 at 9:41
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I think there should be a social networking spinoff. faceoverflow.com –  Kip Jun 30 '09 at 13:24
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SO is really social, all that's missing is the networking aspect and that could be really awesome! –  Chris Pietschmann Jul 2 '09 at 23:16
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A friends list or watch list wouldn't necessarily be the same as social networking though. –  rob Jul 8 '09 at 12:00
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spot on. the site already suffers from 'alliances' and other types of silliness. –  bobobobo Jul 15 '09 at 2:59
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@Kip I propose facestack.com instead ;) –  TWith2Sugars Aug 16 '09 at 16:26
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it will not hurt anybody –  psihodelia Nov 26 '09 at 10:22
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Nobody is suggesting SO become a social networking site. It would just be useful to be able to see questions that my colleagues had asked. I think Cletus is confused. –  jonhobbs Feb 26 '10 at 15:55
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I follow the SO user feeds of my colleagues. It would've been nice to have something similar integrated into SO. That in itself wouldn't make SO an SN site like facebook is. And I do agree with others here, SO already have many social aspects. So why not build on that? –  Peter Lillevold Mar 17 '10 at 9:22
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Right! I think an integration of the user feed into SO would be a good solution. For me it is also not about making friends but about getting ideas from really bright people. –  er4z0r Mar 20 '10 at 12:56
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I don't see how SO is NOT a social site - you're interacting with other people and asking/answering questions. No need to make it a "social" site like facebook, but I don't see how that would happen by having a linked-user list. Maybe you people are just getting confused with the idea that it should be called "Friends"? Make it opt-in like twitter and there is no pressure on anybody to do anything new. –  Mladen Mihajlovic May 17 '10 at 9:26
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It is very much so a social networking site. it's 100% social collaboration to answer questions. and what if someone wanted to (from my profile) select friends (of which some are personal friends) in order to constantly see what kind of questions they are having?? –  KennyCason Sep 26 '10 at 5:28
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Just a thought. Being able to sort consistent good posters is not really related to social networking. I would think it more analogous to "favorites". One can always work around by marking good "feeds" through there browser, but it would simplify things if it could be done through profiles. –  Hal Swyers Feb 13 '13 at 1:40

I would call it favorite user. Just like I can add a question to favorite I add a user for later revisit or to see what questions this persons asks or what answers the person provides.

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Yeah, sometimes it's not even that I want to monitor what my friends are asking on SO, I just want to see what this one reputable person has said or asked. Having a friends/contacts list would be a convenience that would eliminate me having to search the users every time. –  Sarah Vessels Jul 2 '09 at 18:17
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Yes exactly what I'm thinking. –  Chris Pietschmann Jul 2 '09 at 23:17
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Yes, me too. I asked something similar recently: meta.stackexchange.com/questions/4064/… –  Eliseo Ocampos Jul 9 '09 at 20:55
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This is what I was going to post, I really prefer/recommend this. –  Burhan Khalid Jan 6 '13 at 18:03
    
I think,this feature will improve the website's usability and the users courage. –  Hbirjand Nov 2 at 14:30

If you have a friends list don't you think you tend to upvote your friends because they are your friends, instead of the content of their posts?

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Uh, I already have friends that ask me to go and do this on their new posts on Stack Overflow. So, I think it won't matter if we have a friends list or not, because I can still search out friends by their user name and upvote their posts if I so choose. –  Sarah Vessels Jul 2 '09 at 18:15
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But it's a difference, if SO encourages this or not. I don't think it's a good thing to vote your freinds up, because they are your friends. With this feature more people would do that. –  Ladybug Killer Jul 2 '09 at 18:40
    
Ah, OK, sorry I thought that it was something recent, didn't think to check the previous day. Unfortunately it seems that they stopped 1 short of the threshold of 5 downvotes, at or above which it would be possible for non-admins to identify the culprit (and likely the threshold used for automatic reversal). The only thing I can do is offset them with my own upvotes, which I have now done. If you're looking for something further, I suggest contacting team@stackoverflow.com. –  Kyle Cronin Jan 14 '10 at 9:42
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True, I could see this as an issue... what if there was some sort of penalty to upvoting a friend's post? Maybe they only get 10% of the reputation they would if they weren't a friend? –  Jake Petroules Jul 18 '11 at 23:00
    
@jake or no rep at all, since otherwise you could just randomly upvote something else... –  draks ... Dec 13 '13 at 12:16
    
I've never done this,and I have never thought of this,May be your are right –  Hbirjand Nov 2 at 14:31

We are all friends here! right? So why would we need a friends list?

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Exactly. This is my friends list: stackoverflow.com/users –  karlphillip May 25 '11 at 19:30
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I'm usually a busy person. Whenever I have time, I reply to Stack Overflow questions to contribute to the community content. However, when I'm busy, I typically skip doing that. For friends or for favorites I would squeeze in a bit more time for them, and perhaps make a reply anyway. This would also improve the content on Stack Overflow and would only contribute to something good in the end. Don't get me wrong. I consider everyone here as friends as well, but I don't think I'm alone when I say that I care more for people I know in real life. –  Mathias Lykkegaard Lorenzen Aug 19 '13 at 11:07

I think this is a fantastic idea. I do not see it as social networking. I don't foresee this feature making stackoverflow like a facebook, myspace, or twitter. But, there are a few guys that I work with that use SO and it'd be nice if there was a very easy way to see what my "colleagues" are posting. Yes, I could certainly look at each one of their user profiles, but the view would certainly be a great feature.

I would even take it further and suggest maybe having a colleague/buddy/friend and an ignore list.

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ignore list for RichB! –  Jon Erickson Jul 3 '09 at 15:48

Some are objecting to the term "friend" as being too facebooky. How about "trusted responder", or "person known to answer questions well"? I'd like a way to know that, say, Alex Martelli has answered another Python question. Why? Not because Mr. Martelli is my friend -- he doesn't know me from Adam. It is because I almost always learn something from reading his answers. Same with S. Lott and several others. This would be a useful feature, IMO.

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+1'd. You can sort of do this with rss feeds, but it would be neat if it were a first class feature. –  Blorgbeard Jul 30 '09 at 21:42
    
What, are we getting politically correct with our Stack Overflow terminology? Calling them "trusted responders" or "favorite users" is no different than calling them "friends" if the functionality is the same. –  Super Long Names are Hilarious Nov 24 '09 at 4:33
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@Length (at length, ha ha): It's not about political correctness, it's about managing users' expectations and behaviors. If you call the list "friends," people will think of facebook and clamor for messaging and wall posting functionality. If you call the list "trusted responders," people will use it to remember users who consistently provide great answers, as Kevin intended. –  Pops May 5 '10 at 17:21

Damnable FB references and knee-jerk "RSS feed" ducking aside...

A 'follow user' feature would provide another data stream for all the reputation algorithm trickery that makes SO/SE sites so powerful.

Lifehacker added a system like this to provide smart filtering in their comments due to the general overload and lack of hierarchy. It provided a disincentive to post meaningless "first" type of comments since followed user comments would rise and it empowered individual users to filter comments to their liking (e.g. snarky and funny vs. information rich, etc). LH also used aggregated follows as a way to promote certain users generally.

Personally I would love this feature. When I stumble upon someone who makes clear, insightful replies replete with code examples I would like a way to keep track or somehow highlight said user. Looking at a bunch of RSS feeds is not helpful - I don't use RSS feeds to track SO activity and don't necessarily want to know everything a person does all the time. This is a cumbersome non-feature for this specific use-case. UX-wins of a 'follow' feature could include:

  • When viewing individual questions the comments/answers by users you follow could be highlighted in some way (badge, literal highlight, etc) - esp. helpful if you are scanning for quick solutions, adds "trust" filter
  • In search results, questions where followed users are involved could be highlighted in some manner
  • http://stackoverflow.com/users could offer a 'following' sort (tab).
  • Like the user tab 'favorites' for referring back to questions you bookmarked, a 'following' tab could list questions involving those you follow, which could then be refined by 'questions' 'answers' 'accepted answers' etc.
  • To avoid the "club mentality" some seem to fear and to avoid social-network-ishness...simply to not display 'following' lists publicly or reward following type behavior like showing a number of followers a person has, etc.
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p.s. I am not above posting a "new" feature-request for a 'follow user' feature if this one gets ignored since it would technically be at least semantically different than a friend list. –  mahalie May 25 '11 at 18:53
    
+1 because I approve of your viewpoint and attitude -- I wrote something similar in a related question -- but I believe the "make a similar request with a different name" tactic has already been tried. Looking for the link now... –  Pops May 25 '11 at 18:58
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Definitely not going to -1 because your suggestions are well-thought-out and clearly communicated, however, I feel that this pulls away from the idea that while people drive StackExchange, a user could pull the plug on their account and no data is harmed. Remember, reptuation exists to provide tools to the user for input, not to sort/filter output. –  NickC May 25 '11 at 19:00
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Okay, my similar comment is attached to this answer, and here are related requests: tag individual users, mark user as favorite, another favorite users, one more, follow a person and an officially declined favorite users. Sadly, such posts tend to get closed as duplicate of this one. –  Pops May 25 '11 at 19:05
    
+1 Renesis for a no that has some logical underpinnings. I can see why this would be a concern :D –  mahalie May 25 '11 at 19:07
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I think it's a good idea but not right now, while we are in mega-growth mode. Once we are more mature in terms of user growth, I would consider introducing this. Even then, though I would probably make it fairly 'hard' to qualify/use and optional in nature ('opt-out being the default) because we want to be careful not to totally separate experts and newbies for many obvious reasons. –  Michael Durrant Apr 22 '12 at 14:38
    
Being able to create "follow" and "ignore" lists is an excellent idea. The existence of this answer is what precludes me from answering. –  JoshDM Aug 19 '13 at 14:16

There are a number of situations (not covered in other, I think) where this makes sense:

  • Professors, TAs, teachers etc might send their students here, but want to clean up any messes they make.
  • People can keep track of whats bugging their colleagues.
  • If you're mentoring someone (like in the Google Summer of Code), you can make sure their questions get answered.
  • You're more likely to do the legwork for a real-life friend than for a random stranger.
  • You're more likely to feel comfortable rebuking a real-life friend that a random stranger.
  • Some people just give great thorough answers. There has been more than 1 person I've stalked in this way already, its just not as convenient now.
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We need a Greasemonkey Script for this. –  Tyler Carter Jul 30 '09 at 21:35
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There is a RSS feed for every user. –  Brad Gilbert Jul 30 '09 at 21:38
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Sure, but its not even close to being the same. Imagine there was RSS for every tag, but otherwise you couldn't really use tags. –  Paul Biggar Jul 31 '09 at 0:58
    
I can't agree with 4 and 5. I don't know any SO user in person and I've been doing my best within my abilities to help those random strangers. If a friend wants my special attention, s?he would ask me in person. I'm afraid this will create groups among users. –  Amarghosh Aug 31 '10 at 9:14

Maybe people would like it better if you didn't call them "Friends"... maybe "Idols", "Heroes", or "Stalkees" would go over better. =)

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It could be like on Flickr and other sites: you add someone to your general-purpose Contacts list and then can designate that they are your Friend, Family, Significant Other, whatever. –  Sarah Vessels Jul 2 '09 at 18:16
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I was thinking the same thing. "Stalkees" is definitely the best. :-) –  Zifre Jul 3 '09 at 17:32
    
"Heroes" appeals to me as it will appeal to their (and my, if I get there) ego. –  Michael Durrant Apr 22 '12 at 14:35

This is a long-abandoned and rejected feature request, but still:

Unlike the others around here, I still think the usage for this is sound and well-founded, so I created a browser addon that highlights posts by your favorite users.

addon in work

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This would be annoying, because it would show too much. Everyone is their own favorite user. –  Mr. Abe Feb 9 at 0:32
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I'm not particularly sure what you mean. By default, you are not your own favorite user (you can easily be, though). But yes, some people find it annoying, some people find it useful. –  Slanec Feb 9 at 10:14

I believe idea of following someone would be very useful. I often found such great answers by some users and I would like to have a way to follow them easily.

I also use StackOverflow like a blog, I search for interesting topics just to learn more about them.

Reasons (IMO) why users would like to follow another user:

  • He his actively answering to topics that I care about.
  • He has asked a huge number of questions in which I'm interested in.
  • He has an interesting profile with useful links.
  • He seems to be an expert in topics that I plan to learn.

Since we do not want a Social network, there are some suggestions:

  • The "favorite users list" is only visible to the owner of the list.
  • There is no way to know or be notified if a user added you to his list.
  • We maintain the fact that users cannot contact each other through the website.
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@WhoEverDownVoteMe I would like to know your opinion. Why do you think my post is not useful or bad? I took time to read everyone and provide a clean and as well-written answer given that English is not my native language. I believe my answers are worth reading for further discussion or to improve the community. I try to provide suggestions and reasons to improve my answer quality. Tell me if I am wrong but I thought Meta was the place for suggesting improvement or discussing about features. Why there are so many sarcastic or even hateful answers to people that takes time to share their ideas? –  ForceMagic Apr 16 '12 at 7:52
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Downvotes on meta can just mean people disagree with the proposal rather than anything about the quality of the answer. –  Martin Smith Apr 16 '12 at 7:59
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First you complain that someone downvoted you without providing an explanation, then you complain that there are so many sarcastic or hateful answers to people who share their opinions. Which is it? I downvoted this because I completely disagree with your suggestions. I didn't leave a comment because it's a waste of time: other answers to this question make precisely the same point as well as I could. I also disagree with the reasons you cited that this would be desirable. No one said you posted the answer in the wrong place. I would have certainly added a comment were that the case. –  Cody Gray Apr 16 '12 at 8:03
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Also, strongly consider reading the FAQ before complaining about others' behavior. –  Cody Gray Apr 16 '12 at 8:04
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@TheEstablishment I did read the FAQ and thank you for your link. Maybe I mixed two things together in my comment, but my overall appreciation of Meta is low right now. Reading answers like "Repeat after me: SO is not a social networking site." and see 88 up votes while I found this arrogant and not bringing anything new or interesting in the conversation make me sad. And believe me, I've seen worse. Since it is not the place for comment like I am doing right now, yes it will be my last one. –  ForceMagic Apr 16 '12 at 8:19
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That basically is the answer. SO is not a social networking site, and the veteran users (including myself) will abandon it entirely if it starts adding social networking features. Many of the developers are on record saying that this will never happen. And yes, Meta has a bit lighter tone than the main site. I think what you're interpreting as "hateful" is merely done in jest and fun. Sorry you've had a bad experience on Meta. You might find the answers to this question useful. –  Cody Gray Apr 16 '12 at 8:21
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I'm not sure if you understood what Martin meant: On MetaSO, downvotes don't have the same meaning as they do on the main Stack Overflow site. They just mean "I disagree". They don't mean your answer was poor quality. You lose points for them, but points on Meta are basically meaningless. Reputation on SO aims to be (more or less) some indication that you're good at programming. –  Justin Morgan Jul 12 '12 at 2:01
    
@TheGuyWhoDisagreesWithYou Yes I did understood, thanks for further explanation anyways. The Establishment provided usefull links that I have read. –  ForceMagic Jul 13 '12 at 18:20

It's real shame this has been declined. I'd like to be able to quickly go to my colleagues and see their questions answers from inside the site.

Update

After much deliberation, I've decided I might have a crack at implementing a friends/enemies system.

Any questions by 'friends' would be highlighted and questions by 'enemies' would be hidden by default, with the option to show. There would be a sidebar at the right allowing you to click on a user, and show all questions by that user. The same with enemies, if you wanted to see them.

When I say 'friends', I mean colleagues, and people who may have shown an interest in your questions in the past. I suppose this could be expanded to create automatic relationships with people who often participate in your questions.

When I say 'enemies', I mean thankless users with low accept rates who clog the tubes with their constant questions, but never take the time to accept any, and also people you decide you don't like for whatever reason (flamers?).

There... I've laid out a plan, and now I've blogged about it! Feel free to beat me to the punch!

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Again, the main point of the SO sites is the content. It's not about who asks, it's about what is asked, and what you can bring to the question. Start adding "friends/enemies" and all this fragile neutrality will fall into simple pettiness. –  Gnoupi Sep 5 '09 at 19:11
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Nobody will force this on you! I've read the discussion, and understand both sides of the argument. But the benefit of Greasemonkey is that, if I don't like something, I can actually just code it, and offer it out to other like-minded individuals! I want this functionality, and clearly there are others who do, too. Either way, thank you for leaving your opinion. –  Dan Atkinson Sep 5 '09 at 19:53
    
I think your enemies should be bumped to the top of your page... save all that time looking for posts to downvote. –  Shep Apr 16 '12 at 7:52

While we're at it, how about automating up/down votes for your "friends" and "enemies"? We could reduce our brainless clicking by 80%.

Seriously, Stack Overflow is a social website, and there is a science behind creating a good social website: a huge amount of work and thought goes into optimizing the incentive structure to connect useful information with those who need it. If we add social networking features to the mix, it will be that many more degrees of freedom the developers have to optimize, a whole new set of biases to deal with.

This may not seem so bad: how could more degrees of freedom hurt the optimal solution? Well, keep in mind that the optimal solution for the user involves many more websites than just SO. If you want to follow a particular user, you have twitter, facebook, blogs, etc. It's SOs orthogonality to these sites that makes it able to contribute to the global optimum for the user. By limiting ourselves from falling into the "social network" fray, we're providing something that social networks, by construction, can't: a level playing field where people from different programming backgrounds and traditions are exposed to ideas outside their normal sphere.

Whatever it's effect on SO as a be-all and end-all of social websites, adding friends to SO would hurt the global user experience by encouraging enclaves within the community. I say we stick to doing what we do best.

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User RSS feeds (already implemented)?

SO is not social networking.

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Why not? It's a place to ask your peers questions and get real answers from those that know the topic in question. It could be a great place for people to network with one another in a professional manner. –  Chris Pietschmann Jun 30 '09 at 1:04
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It's a social site, but the difference with all those facespace.com sites is that here the important stuff is the content, whereas in those sites is the relations. Both in SO, SF, FB and MS it's about sharing content. –  perbert Jul 3 '09 at 17:28
    
What's the issue in having both? It doesn't hurt, and it certainly won't magically "turn stackoverflow into a social networking site". –  Mathias Lykkegaard Lorenzen Aug 19 '13 at 10:54

Reputation System would become a Popularity Score

A way to favorite or follow track users would only be a way to inadvertently game the reputation system solely based on subconscious human nature.

People with lots of followers would get even more up votes from the acolytes no matter how flippant, trivial, incomplete and incorrect their answers might be.

People with no followers would most likely get ignored even with better more complete and accurate answers.

This would turn the reputation system into a popularity score, more than it already is.

Social isn't always Positive

The inverse is also just as true, create an enemy and they could more easily follow you and serial down vote everything you answer or ask. That will make the sites better how?

I don't want to have to manage yet another list of people I don't want tracking me, I don't want to manage yet another list of people I have to constantly respond to requests either.

It would just encourage newbies to think that stackexchange sites are FORUMS!

There is already this tendency for new users to treat all the stackexchange sites as discussion forums. Nothing should be done to encourage this behavior and increase the load on the community and moderators especially to police questions that clog up the works.

It would also signal a similar shift in policy to long existing members as well.

Use an existing Social network and leave me out of it

The RSS feeds already do what a favorite would do.

Use an existing 3rd party aggregation site like Delcicous.com to bookmark these feeds and aggregate them and publish and share them. Use Pinterest or Bo.lt as well?

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Serial up-/downvoting is a "crime" by itself. So there's a special mechanism preventing it, whether or not native SO features or external tools are used to track one's friend/enemy. –  bytebuster Aug 9 '12 at 11:14

Eventually it will happen, just not yet.
As various ppl have said or alluded to there is a fear that this feature would cause grouping within SO and mean certain "groups" wouldn't answer questions from other "groups" etc, or perhaps just lead to people only being interested in answering questions from their own "group" which of cause is against the whole ethos of SO to begin with. Most of us like helping randoms as well as people we know. Ultimately the question is more important than who asked it.

Having said that however its not hard to imagine that with the mainstream use of SO and its related sites (not all programmer related) the RSS option may start to be seen as more limited.

Also the sites creators may wish to have some type of interop between social networking sites and SO stacksites to avoid precisely the type of problem that answerers on this question are worried about... namely for SO sites to become "Social networking lite" sites, which of cause will never be allowed to happen.

But given we already have a chat channel, and not everyone uses there real name, a contact list would be nice (along with the ability to add private details for users (such as if you know their real name)) so as to keep track of programmers that share a particular niche or perhaps interest, which of cause are things that apply more generally to the other stack sites as well. (subst "programmers" for scientists, mathimaticians, cooks, etc)

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You could implement this via a little GreaseMonkey script. It can access a browser database, so you can monitor whatever you want.

A little inspiration is the VZ Tools (yes, it's German). There you can see what's happening with your contacts.

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If you had a list of favorite users, that worked like a Twitter timeline, I think that'd be useful.

It would be the same as the "Favorites/Recent" tab, except what it would follow is not recent changes by question id, but rather recent questions or answers by user.

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If you want to roll your own cause you're impatient, you could do this pretty easily with Yahoo Pipes and the Users' Recent Activity feed.

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It is a very good question. My vote in this subject however would be against. Why ? Because I think any kind of connecting between users, on any level, can create biased opinions - whether you are aware of it or not ! The present form of SE network works great, because it is a simple ASK - ANSWER website that works like : People asking strangers - People answering strangers. That means someone's question / answer is only valued by its quality, and nothing else, no bias. IMO, even knowledge of someone's cultural and ethnic background could induce bias, and that would be a bad thing - let alone if you see he supports your rival team in the national league =)

From some answers, I have seen suggestions about choosing your 'heroes', people you follow and see their latest posts etc. That sounds better, however, it may induce a slight element of bias too I am afraid ( if that person answers your question ).

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Seeing this question bumped again, I'll point out that StackExchange API makes it possible to fill the site's homepage exclusively with questions from "friends". Just grab the data from

https://api.stackexchange.com/2.1/users/[Id-numbers-of-friends]/questions (and some parameters) 

and use it to rewrite the site's question list. The process is described here. As implemented, it lacks any UI for "friending" -- the list of friends has to be updated manually. But I imagine that a sufficiently motivated SO user could improve the process with a userscript: insert "friend" button into profile pages, and upon a click add the Id from profile page URL to the list of friends.

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Instead of a friends list, upvote your favorite users. You can track them later and also at the same time they get their own points much like questions and answers.

Not sure if you should be able to downvote users though, that's just mean.

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I agree. Once you add social networking to a stack site, it would ruin it.

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Wow! Now users of big tags like c#, java, php etc can friend exclusively among themselves and form big sub-communities within SO and post questions/comments abusing each others' language/features.

I'm not saying it doesn't happen at all now - but this will make it official.

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Besides that this feature request is already declined. –  Gnoupi Aug 31 '10 at 9:52
    
@Gnoupi I reached here from a (recent) duplicate; didn't notice that it's been declined until I posted this. –  Amarghosh Sep 1 '10 at 13:44
    
The feature could be designed to avoid this problem. Where is the problem-solving attitude I'd normally expect from smart, creative programmers? –  mahalie May 25 '11 at 18:56

In the GTUG many of us are single developers. We struggle with questions just like the next person but we rarely know of each other what we are working on or are stuck on. It would be nice if we could help each other better. Often another person will already have the solution, especially among equals, like in a GTUG. Rather than internalizing this discussion, I'd like to see favorited users or a network of friends, out of which suggested questions pop out. I think this would bring even more questions to SO, rather than incurring favoritism as is suggested around here.

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I have seen other questions on here about how a user could filter out questions from other users (such as "Sort questions by user reputation"). As stated in the post, this sort of filtering will move users away from an open Q&A style site, and would provide a simple way to ignore new users.

On the other hand, it may be really interesting to have something like this that was not entirely meant to be social - for instance a favorite users section (similar to the favorite tags section) - that would allow questions asked by favorite users to be calculated into your "homepage" questions. This could allow SO to maintain its identity as NOT a social network, while still allowing for some, albeit minuscule, social or associative behavior.

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