After reading lots and lots of questions on Meta about notifications... there could be one solution for all the questions about notifications on here! Just have a notification toggle center! Facebook has one and it works great, if someone doesn't want to receive a certain notification, they don't have to... but at least the user can decided what they want to be notified about and what they don't.

I think a power user and a regular user have different notification needs, and the site should reflect these needs based on user opt-in and out.

I'm not talking about email notification, I'm taking about in-site notifications.

Attached is a screen shot from Facebook's Notifications Preferences (obviously Stack Exchange would have different preferences):

Facebook Notification Preferences

  • The problem is different: "bad" notifications (e.g. "your post was deleted") don't exist for a reason, it was mentioned more than once. – ShaWiz Dec 6 '13 at 20:04
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    Historically, Stack Exchanged has avoided too many preferences. While it was recently noted that more preferences would be forthcoming, going from none to 632 different options would be unlikely. – psubsee2003 Dec 6 '13 at 20:13

The picture above sort of illustrates our reluctance here.

Customization of notifications is hard to do well.

  • Giving enough control to address all your top users' individual needs (and remember that there will be a lot of diversity even within that group) almost always means most users, including some of the top ones, won't know what many of the settings even mean.
  • Settings like that usually mean one of two things:
    • You've given up on getting your default selections right, and on making them adjust intelligently to different types of users, OR
    • You've spent a ton of time getting them right, but that meant making them exactly what you want, but you know darn well it's not what a lot of users actually do so you add crazy controls to placate the ones who tend to complain (loudly). (Hi, Facebook!)

FWIW, I relate to your thinking here, and I regularly suggest plugging some problem much as you did above, but then someone always shows me a pic like that Facebook one, and I sigh and agree we have more work to do at making notifications smarter (rolling up more "noise" as users attract more of a certain kind of thing, etc.)

Side point: The separation of Achievements and Inbox in the new Top Bar came out of exactly the kind of thinking you're doing here - we wanted most users to see even more feedback on upvotes, etc, but realized that Jon Skeet and others were already probably getting way more badge noise than made sense mixed in with other things, hence the clearer separations now.

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