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This is no longer an issue with the new interface, go SE devs!


When I click on the Stack Exchange menu to get at my Inbox and click on one of the links, it will open on a new tab which is great. However, the menu itself will remain open in the original tab which means that I won't receive notifications of new messages until I remember to return to that tab and manually close the menu. As long as I have the menu open in any of my browser's tabs, new messages/notifications are automatically marked as read.

This has led me to twice (I deleted the second when I realized I had left the menu open) post meta questions over on SU to report what I thought was a bug in the notification process. I agree this is a case where the user (me) was not being particularly intelligent, but it seems reasonable to have the menu close when the tab in question is not active. That way stupid stupid users like myself won't think there are bugs where none exist.


EDIT: @Doorknob correctly highlighted another issue. At the moment, any new messages that appear when the menu is clicked will be marked as read if the menu closes irrespective of whether they were actually read. This means that if my suggestion is implemented and the menu closes when it loses focus, it will be hard to distinguish read from unread. So, my suggestion is:

  1. Make sure the menu never remains open in unfocused, backgrounded tabs. This ensures that I will always have a visual hint when I receive new messages:

    enter image description here

  2. Only mark new messages as read if that actual message has been clicked on. That way, if the menu closes in the background, I will still see unread messages in bold and have a visual indication of whether I have read a message or not. In other words, don't mark messages as read when the menu closes but only when they have actually been clicked on.

  • No, I usually want to see all my notifications. This way all of them will be marked as "read" – Doorknob Sep 14 '13 at 15:41
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    @Doorknob that's not what I mean. As long as the menu dropdown remains open, every incoming message is marked as read and you don't get new notifications. I often have multiple stackexchange tabs open (I am quite active on 4 different sites) so new messages come in and I don't see them because they are automatically marked as read in the backgrounded tab. – terdon Sep 14 '13 at 15:44
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    yes, but if this is implemented, when I open one of my notifications, all of them will be marked "read" – Doorknob Sep 14 '13 at 16:11
  • @Doorknob not at all, all I want is for the dropdown menu to close if its tab is no longer in focus. As it is, if you click on one of your messages, you are taken to a new tab but the menu remains open indefinitely in the background tab. That means that all new messages will now automatically be marked as read. That's what I want to avoid. I don't want to change anything in the way the notifications are marked as read, everything should be just the way it is but the menu should never remain open if the browser tab is no longer active. – terdon Sep 14 '13 at 16:16
  • No, you're misunderstanding me. Say you have two notifications, A and B. You click A, which opens in a new tab, which is perfect, but now both A and B are marked as read. – Doorknob Sep 14 '13 at 16:19
  • @Doorknob join me here for a sec? We seem to be having a communication problem which indicates I am not expressing my request properly. – terdon Sep 14 '13 at 16:22
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    okay, now everything is clear. +1 – Doorknob Sep 14 '13 at 16:30
  • This is a great suggestion! – slm Sep 14 '13 at 17:19
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    If this gets implemented, then it may also be handy to have a "mark all as read" for those that come back after an extended time away from the network and have a bucketload of notifications :) – Drav Sloan Sep 14 '13 at 17:26
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    @Braiam that one is about the old interface and is not the same issue at all. My problem is that the inbox remains open unless you actively click somewhere else so that if I forget to close it in one tab, I'll no longer be notified of new messages. – terdon Mar 10 '14 at 16:10
  • Testing if it's still broken... yup it is. – Braiam Mar 10 '14 at 16:16
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    This is no longer an issue with the new top bar. @Braiam, I refunded your bounty. – Adam Lear Mar 14 '14 at 0:27