Please forgive me for asking multiple questions at once, but I think these are all related to a confusing choice of main buttons on SO.

One thing that has always bothered me about the SO user interface is the "questions" button and the "unanswered" button on the main interface. Aren't unanswered questions just a subset of all total questions? Why does it warrant a totally different top level choice when it could just be a remembered or default tab choice within questions?

And why are the tab choices under questions different than the tab choices under unanswered? Aren't both just showing a list of questions? Why am I allowed to view "my tags" under unanswered, but not under "questions"? I want to be able to see answered questions that match my interests, not just unanswered questions.

Maybe I'm misunderstanding something fundamental. Maybe there is a logical explanation.

  • 1
    +1 this actually is a pretty well-developed comment on the organization and seems to deserve at least a thought of a re-org. Jul 30, 2009 at 19:54
  • +1 Same gripe as me : meta.stackexchange.com/questions/8506/…
    – Kev Riley
    Aug 4, 2009 at 9:24
  • Agree. I think that "Questions" and "unanswered" should be the first two tabs--i.e. next to each other, since they're related.
    – rogerdpack
    Aug 2, 2010 at 16:41

2 Answers 2


Questions includes all question whether they have been answered or not. This is the same behavior when I select a tag.

Unanswered is questions that have not had any accepted or upvoted answers.

The different sorting is simple. Users browsing questions are interest in a different set of information then those looking at Unanswered. I look at the latter for questions that I potentially have a chance at gaining reputation. I am particularly interested in the newer questions since they often drop off the home page quickly due to the active questions popping up.

Looking at questions Users are generally interest in active topics or highest voted questions. It is really a subjective question. It depends on every users approach to the site and use of the navigation.


For regular StackOverflow users who are keen on answering questions (perhaps for the rep, perhaps because they're helpful types), the Unanswered tab gives a simple place to find questions that need answers.

Following on from this, the "My Tags" option under Unanswered helps people find questions they want to answer, allowing them to skip any questions they have no knowledge of, or interest in.

In contrast, the "Questions" tab is more for people wanting to browse the site.

My 2c worth, anyway.


Ahh, I see where you're coming from now.

There are (at least) two schools of thought for UI (User Interface/Interaction) and UX (User eXperience) design.

  • The first is to use the structure of the information to drive the user interface.

  • The second is to use the goals of the user to drive the user interface.

Using structure as a guide, you'd expect top level tabs for just Questions, Tags, Users and Badges - and no more.

Using goals as a guide, you'd expect top level tabs focussed on different user needs - leading to "Show me topical Questions", "Show me Tags", "Show me Users", "Show me Badges" and "Show me where I can provide help"

I'm not going to weigh in on which approach is more correct - as I think it's more a religious battle than a rational one - but I suspect your thinking comes from the structure camp, where Jeff & Joel are more goal focussed.

  • But couldn't the same functionality be implemented with one top level button and a series of tabs under that single top level choice? The current implementation feel disjointed and unorganized to me. Jul 30, 2009 at 20:19
  • +1 for software that accomplishes goals, perhaps thee questions tab should simply renamed to "All Questions"
    – user135632
    Sep 15, 2009 at 22:19

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