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When I'm browsing about randomly, it'd be nice to visit SO or one of the other StackExchange sites and have a more interesting set of recommendations. For instance, "questions I might be suited to answer" is not the same thing as simply "tags I've picked out". The same goes for "questions and associated answers that I'm likely to learn something from". I think either or both of these could dramatically increase participation. I recognize that they're both fairly substantial increments of functionality, though.

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In essence, are you asking for Stack Exchange to predict or monitor which tags you most often answer (which is shown in your profile) because you don't want to filter on your favorite tags? – M. Tibbits Jun 30 '11 at 4:32
Tags are a red herring here. I'm asking SE to predict and monitor what sorts of text I respond to, because that's the ground truth of my interests. – Novelocrat Jul 2 '11 at 19:06
@M.Tibbits Stack Overflow already does that on the main page, for recent questions. – Gilles Jan 14 '12 at 15:44

Do you have any sort of specific suggestion as to what this would do or how it would work?

The site already

  • considers tags you've answered in to show interesting questions
  • mixes in a few questions from other non-favorite, non-ignored tags with your "interesting" questions to give you some variety
  • gives you unanswered by votes to see which questions other people thought were good that need answers.
  • has a hot tab to see which questions are popular
  • gives you related links for every question if you want to learn more about a subject

so I'm not sure what else you're suggesting short of mind reading. If you want another way to get exposed to new stuff, lately I've been finding it when reviewing. You'll see all sorts of topics, and you can clean house at the same time.

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I am suggesting the standard web-equivalent of mind-reading. The points in your answer are all about other peoples' votes and tags. How about looking at the actual text of questions and answers one reads, votes on, and responds to. I shouldn't have to give SO an exhaustive list of tags (that will often be incomplete or missing on many questions, especially right as they're posted) for it to find things that I would react to positively. I'm suggesting a way to drive more traffic, build a more engaged community, and help me learn more along the way? – Novelocrat Jul 2 '11 at 19:05

I would use a recommendation engine, similar to Amazon's. It would be based on a machine learning algorithm, that tries to "predict" my behavior, based on a set of features, e.g. the tags that I visit often, the text of the questions that I click on while using SO. One could train the algorithm by comparing the predicted behavior against the actual behavior of a user.

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