I've come across a few interesting questions over the last few months on Stack Overflow. They're not necessarily questions I need an answer to, but the questions are nonetheless very interesting, and now I want to know what the answers are.

I don't want to add this question to my favourites because I have my really handy posts in there.

Ideally I would like to have another kind of shortlist to which I can add these posts. I would get notifications just as if it were my own post, without having these as favourites.

What do you think of that? It would be available only for questions, and you would receive notifications just like the author, for new answers and comments on the question (not comments on the answers).

You could browse the posts you're following, as well as stop following them.

The thing is sometimes I come across a semi interesting question and upvote and maybe even comment, but I never hear about it again, because sometimes it's just not interesting enough to remember.

Like I said in the comments, I don't feel like the favourite list is really for this. I want in-your-face red dot notifications for new answers on brand new interesting questions I find. The favourites is for that post with an answer that you know you'll need again.

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    So you want an extra favourite feature because the existing favourite feature is already in use for something else by you? Nov 30, 2012 at 17:28
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    I don't feel like the favourite list is really for this. I want in-your-face red dot notification for new answers on brand new interesting questions I find. The favourites is for that post with an answer you know you'll need again.
    – Daniel
    Nov 30, 2012 at 17:33
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    I feel it's 2 different usages favourite/follow
    – Daniel
    Nov 30, 2012 at 17:33
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    This is a good idea, +1, unfortunately it's too "social", and so will likely be lambasted by the community. Nov 30, 2012 at 17:35
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    I would also like to see something like this. My current solution is to just leave the question open in one of my many browser tabs, and check on it every once in a while when I'm cleaning up my open tabs. As you might guess, that's not a very ideal solution :)
    – Rachel
    Nov 30, 2012 at 17:36
  • Maybe you're right, but I've got to that point now where I am on here every day and I want to help people out, i don't have many questions of my own and I find a ton of kind of interesting - hey you know, I wonder how to do that - questions, I don't really want to bookmark them, and adding to favourites is making that list cluttered.
    – Daniel
    Nov 30, 2012 at 17:37
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    In the same ballpark: Pekka's social features request -- it was rated extremely highly by the community, but shot down in the most absurd way by Mr. Atwood. I really hope the new management takes a more grownup look at things like this going forward. Nov 30, 2012 at 17:37
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    @AdamRackis I personally don't really see the need for a feature like this, but I don't at all get your social angle.
    – Bart
    Nov 30, 2012 at 17:40
  • @Bart - signing up for notifications on changes to certain questions seems, to me, like the sort of social networking features the community hates. But I could be wrong. Nov 30, 2012 at 17:41
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    @AdamRackis Mwah, as long as it's not following specific users, there's not much of a social factor imho. So I would not hold that against this specific proposal.
    – Bart
    Nov 30, 2012 at 17:42
  • @AdamRackis Just because this is functionality that also happens to be implemented on social networking sites doesn't mean the feature itself is social in nature, because it's not. Social networking sites also often have authentication systems, but authentication systems aren't social in nature.
    – Servy
    Nov 30, 2012 at 17:42
  • @Servy - that's a fair argument. This is definitely less of a social feature than the Pekka request I linked. Nov 30, 2012 at 17:44
  • I agree, I don't think it makes it social, the word follow to our ears just forces an unnecessary association with say Twitter perhaps... This should be totally private, opt-in feature for users say with over 5000 rep or something. Great link by the way, I don't want to follow a user, I just visit their favs and latest answers for that
    – Daniel
    Nov 30, 2012 at 17:45
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    @Daniel Why would you need to have 5k rep to use this? I see no reason for there to be any rep requirement at all. A 1 rep user can be just as interested in new answers to a good question as anyone else, and it's not like the feature is expensive, costly, or subject to likely abuse in any way.
    – Servy
    Nov 30, 2012 at 17:52
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    Have you tried bookmarks with a sync option?
    – Cole Tobin
    Mar 21, 2013 at 18:42

4 Answers 4


This is definitely a feature I would look forward to have on Stack Overflow.

There is an interim solution, StackApps app called StackStalker (Google Chrome Extension). You can check it out here:

StackStalker: Be Notified When Your Question Is Updated (Chrome Extension)


I think this is a great idea. I would like to see this implemented as requested where a user would be able to share the ownership notifications on a question through some sort of follow feature. Perhaps an icon below the star which would indicate follow so you could also see how many users were following that question.

On the other hand, I can see some reasons against this. First, there is the favorites section which does allow you to track questions - it just requires a little more effort on your end to check in on a question. Secondly, it is possible that this would encourage extended discussions on questions in comments and I am not sure that is desired as comments tend to get migrated to chat by mods if they are extended. Perhaps a few more comments and scrubbing of content could be nice though and may encourage more accurate content and editing.


Now that this can of worms is open, and receiving community support, let's consider what a complete implementation would look like. The work to add the two features below I suspect to be only slightly more than the partial implementation above, but should seal this request class for some time.

  • Instead of having two types of Favorites, which simply the begs the quesiton of why not 3 or 4 or even more, simply allow usrs to create Named Favorites by entering a short mnemonic phrase when they select the Favorites icon. As an initial guess, I suspect that 9 characters is long enough for creativity to be exercised, without overloading the DB.

  • [Optional] For those who find one favorite list sufficient, add a profile setting Enable Named Favorites which defaults to Off, so only those who desire this feature would see a change to the curent interface.

  • In the user profile, users would select which Named Favorites lists would receive re-dot notifications.

Have I missed anything?

  • 1
    This seems like a separate request. Using named favorites is an interesting idea as it would allow some sort of separation of concern to be utilized with regards to marking questions as favorites, perhaps by tag. However, I do not see how that relates to notifications which seemed to be the primary point of this question.
    – Travis J
    Mar 21, 2013 at 22:23
  • @TravisJ: I see the common element being "a new kind of user-maintained list". Rather than implementing a separate feature with common functionality, extending the existing feature and enabling users to utilize it as they see fit seems more productive in the long run. Mar 21, 2013 at 22:27
  • This is perfect - and you'd control which, or any, of your named favorite lists you receive re-dot notifications on, right? Mar 21, 2013 at 22:37
  • And no, there's no need for an Enable Named Favorites setting. Just give everyone a default named favorite list, called Favorites, pre-fill everyone's existing favorites, and then let the user do whatever he or she wants. Mar 21, 2013 at 22:38
  • @AdamRackis: My reason for the switch is so that users can completely opt out of the feature, including any additional button-clicks needed when adding a favorite. Mar 21, 2013 at 22:40
  • There's still no need - just have the option to receive notification updates for specific named favorite lists be off by default, with the user able to opt in as desired. Mar 21, 2013 at 22:41
  • @AdamRackis: We disagree; how about we leave detailed design to the SE implementors? Mar 21, 2013 at 22:44
  • Unless you propose something with as few moving pieces and complexity as possible, it's unlikely anyone at SE will even consider it. Boolean flags like that in your profile are, imo, a design smell. Without this your proposal actually would fit seamlessly with the way SE currently works, and could actually be feasible. Mar 21, 2013 at 22:53
  • @AdamRackis: Granted. I thought only to minimize the impact on any users who were intent on their user interface not changing; I don't know how much of an issue that really is on SE. Mar 22, 2013 at 0:04

Regarding implementation side of it, I'd like to suggest something inline with already existing notification mechanism for owned answers and questions. Right now the notification icon is red on top, and then on Responses tab on your profile there is a white on blue icon showing a number of them on it. If it's not your question/answer, but something you subscribed to, can be another one, black on grey, to be less distractive, but still give a visual cue.

So you could possibly have two icons, red + grey on top, and blue + grey in responses. Those subscribed responses could be showing greyed out, similar to how questions with non-favorite tags are shown, to quickly weed them out, if you are not particularly interested in them. Also can add a sub-tab under Responses, so right now we have All, which would list responses to you + responses to Q/A you subscribed to, and also me/to me/mine (suggest a better wording), which would list All minus your subscriptions (current behavior of All).

The new functionality can be disabled by default, and enabled in options by request. You can then leave a hint in Responses, such as a question mark ?, hovering on which displays a note about this option. Something like "Did you know you can subscribe to responses to other questions/answers, not just yours? See this link for more details".

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