For me, the biggest issue is how unclear it is that clicking the bookmark icon is an action that is published. Specially considering that in many other sites/apps this isn't the case.
Firstly, you can see the number of people who marked a specific question as bookmark, but you can't see who they are by clicking or hovering the number (like you can in github). That's already a huge reason for assuming that the feature is private, without even questioning it.
To add to that, upvoting/downvoting is anonymous (thankfully) and the icon is right next to the voting buttons. So, if you know that voting is anonymous, you might easily assume that bookmarks are anonymous too.
The funny thing is that, since voting is something you intentionally do for the benefit of the community, I would expect that to be public, but surprisingly it's not! On the other hand, tracking your favorite questions is a thing you do primarily for yourself, so isn't it more logical for it to be private?
I see three possible solutions for this:
- Showing a message the first time a bookmark is added, warning about the fact that they are publicly visible or at least change the tooltip to
Bookmark this question (your list of bookmarks can be seen by others).
- Less than ideal solution, but the minimum that should be done.
- Easy to implement. Simply changing the tooltip can be done without changing anything on the backend or database.
- Doesn't solve for the people who want to use the feature while keeping their privacy, but at least solves the privacy issue of not being clear that it's public (the biggest issue).
- (This feature request): Adding a setting to show/hide all your bookmarks (maybe on a site-per-site basis). If showing is the default, adding the first bookmark should still display the warning (1), with the link to the setting. Default private is better, though.
- Reasonable solution. Probably not too difficult to implement.
- Solves for most people, except the ones that want to show their bookmarks for some questions, but want to hide for other questions. Probably a negligible minority.
- Having a separate button to keep track of favorite questions privately, while keeping the public "like" feature.
UPDATE: (3) is kind of implemented in the new "follow" feature, which is private, and can function as a sort of "bookmark". You can see followed posts in your own profile. However:
- (1) is still required for clarity. Specially now that "favorites" has been renamed to "bookmarks" (heavily implies private). Or, do (2) and make private the default setting.
- No search feature yet, as far as I know. Public bookmarks can be searched with
- You can't follow your own posts. So you can't bookmark a favorite answer you posted, or privately bookmark your own question.
- Solved for people who don't mind receiving notifications on these "private bookmarks".