Is there a way to subscribe to a question and be notified more frequently than once a day? I'd like to be notified immediately on any posts to a question.
If we make the email too aggressive, it's a substitute for visiting the site, and it kind of destroys the whole community aspect.
I think we're all in agreement that in a social/discussion forum it's OK not to have email notifications, because in a social/discussion forum that's would be, well, antisocial.
In tech support forums, the question is whether you prefer to build up a group of people who hang out, thus making benefit #2 more likely to happen, or whether you prefer to make sure that customers get prompt replies to their posts, at the cost of sacrificing benefit #2.
Email is for the less urgent stuff where you're busy and don't have time to check the site.
Part of the implicit contract at SO is that you "pay it forward" and help others answer their questions while you're getting an answer to your own question.
edit: you can now notify every 3 hours, just click the Stack Exchange global inbox in the upper left, then click "email settings". Select every 3 hours.
Sorry that I am not replying directly to Jeff's answer, it is too long for a comment.
Jeff, you made a kick-ass community, but I often find your take on usability strange. In this answer you are making two mistakes for that matter:
- You want to decide for the user how to consume your content. You fail to understand that most come here for the content, not the site or community itself. It is the same error some bloggers make when not including the content of an article in their RSS feed. They force users to consume the content in their way, not the user's prefered way.
- "Email is for the less urgent stuff where you're busy and don't have time to check the site". No it isn't. You do not get to decide or know what email is used for. Just because YOU use email that way does not make it true for others. I've seen people (mis)use email as a work log, legal proof, document/archiving system, work planning tool, and for realtime communication. It is up to the user to decide how to use it. If I voluntarily opt-in to instant notifications to get realtime answers via email that would be my choice. If I get too many I can switch it off.
My point in both statements: You are making unwarranted and unfounded assumptions and decisions about user behavior, mostly fueled by how YOU use them or how YOU think they should be used. The focus should be on the users of SO, not you. Usability is based on studying actual user's needs and behavior, not how you think they should behave.
Jeff, in his answer, wrote "If we make the email too aggressive" ... the solution is to make it an option.
Like many if not most developers, I use sites like so and forums.asp.net as adjunct tools to assist myself with multiple issues.
Sites like so and forums.asp.net circle our planet and thus developers in different time zones are responding to each others questions.
Scenario: a developer in a different time zone partially answers my question; a timely notice, which for me works best when it's by e-mail, allows me to respond and ask for clarification before that developer goes to bed and in the very least gives me the opportunity to resolve issues faster in calendar time. ~~ this is even more critical when the developer is about to go home for the weekend and might not get an opportunity to check so for a couple of days.
Therefore, why not make notification frequency an option; suggested values:
-- as it happens
From responses to this and similar questions, it seems that at least some members of the so community would prefer to be e-mail centric and thus would also prefer to have more frequent e-mails to bring us back to so when there are answers and comments that we might need to read more frequently.
regards ~~ gerry
I don't think they want to become a spam bot.
I've had email subscriptions where the would send an email everyday, but I don't check my email that often. When I did finally get around to reading them, I didn't feel like going through and reading all of them, so I would read a couple and move on. The only thing is, it didn't take long before it would take more than one page to view just those emails. So I unsubscribed.
I really don't think we need more than one a day. It might even be a good idea to have a weekly version as well.
There are options like StackApplet if you NEED to know about these things urgently...