Why can't Stack Overflow just email me immediately when someone responds to my questions?

I feel like an a-hole when I find out someone posted on a question I asked a month ago and I only find out because I happened to browse to it. Every other forum does it.


5 Answers 5


In your profile in prefs there is an email notification option.

Shame you won't read this answer for a month to find out, though :)

  • 6
    lol =P yeah, like a few other commenters, I have the option checked and have rarely gotten notifications. Commented Oct 5, 2009 at 21:18
  • It doesn't work for me. All accounts are associated. But what that even have to do with my preferences on superuser.com being set to "receive email notifications" and not sending any?
    – cregox
    Commented Feb 17, 2010 at 2:32
  • Where are preferences on stackoverflow?
    – umpirsky
    Commented May 28, 2011 at 12:51
  • click on your name look where your questions start. look to the right. you will see you are on the stats tab. click prefs and there it is. If you can't find it try meta.stackoverflow.com/users/162799/umpirsky?tabs=prefs Commented May 28, 2011 at 14:32

I don't like email notifications very much, so I subscribe to RSS feed. It's just another alternative to know when a question is answered.

  • good alternative. i guess i'll do this for now Commented Oct 6, 2009 at 23:34
  • 1
    I don't like it, I don't really check RSS that often and my gReader is a mess. But I couldn't even find how to subscribe to such a feed. Where is it?
    – cregox
    Commented Feb 17, 2010 at 2:49
  • You can use ReaderNotifier to be notified for GReader. You can find the subscription link to the RSS at the bottom of the question page.
    – bloparod
    Commented Apr 15, 2010 at 5:12
  • 1
    and how about RSS notification on a smartphone? c'mon, emails are a system just made for notification all over the internet. what's so wrong with using it in SO?
    – cregox
    Commented Sep 21, 2010 at 23:15
  • 1
    @bloparod - I've never been able to effectively incorporate RSS into my daily process. If RSS is the only way I can get notified then, well, I don't get notified. Commented Oct 23, 2010 at 22:40

Have you tried the checkbox down below that says "Notify [your email address] daily of any new answers"? It sounds like it will send the email even if you are active on the site, unlike the profile option.

The downside is that you'd have to check it on all your questions.

  • 4
    He said "immediately", not "daily". So I don't think this will do the trick for him.
    – user27414
    Commented Oct 5, 2009 at 21:09
  • 2
    @Jon B: he'll know more often than once a month, at least :)
    – perbert
    Commented Oct 5, 2009 at 23:06

The official answer is here:

Notify more frequently than once a day?

  • 3
    I respect that answer, and tried to live with your suggestion since reading it a couple months ago. After posting more and using the site, I still think it's a failure of the platform not to let a user say they wish to be alerted via email. It seems to really come up with rails questions as people love to jump on them with generic answers: stackoverflow.com/questions/2870943/rails-modeling-for-a-user People completely avoided my question (unintentionally, I'm sure) and when I commented on one, I get no reply. The question becomes stale. Not everyone visits the site that often. Commented May 22, 2010 at 17:18
  • Jeff, why not add email notifications a la SQL Server Central (a discussion format) and MSDN Forums (a Q&A format) where you can request to be notified when anyone responds to a topic regardless of whether you have posted to the thread? It can only improve site experience and open it up to a broader audience...not to mention that for tougher topics you'll allow for a better chance for people experienced in the topic to start following a thread, waiting for the topic to be fleshed out by some basic Q&A, before adding a comprehensive response based on a sufficient amount of information. Commented Apr 12, 2011 at 13:24
  • @opc: +1, this is a must have feature
    – user
    Commented Apr 19, 2011 at 12:36

SO does not post immediately, because Jeff does not want to annoy the users. Many mails in a short period of time from the same address could be considered as spam by some filters, too.

If you visit SO (almost) daily (as a logged-in user), you won't get e-mails. The Stack Exchange icon at the top left of each SE page (the "global inbox") will inform you about new answers.

  • 5
    meh. it's common functionality in forums. if it's annoying, turn it off. if it gets marked as spam, who cares? those points apply to all notifications - yet i opt to get notifications from a few select services when i find it useful. Commented Oct 6, 2009 at 23:36
  • 1
    @THartman If you mark as spam what you signed up for, instead of just unsubscribing, then everyone loses out.
    – random
    Commented Nov 14, 2009 at 11:52
  • 2
    I agree with Trevor. If you don't like rapid emails turn the feature off. I find the emails that come a day or two later to be completely useless. My work mode is to submit a question that I am stuck on then move on to something else. If I get an email an hour later I can pop back to that issue and wrap it up.
    – user144857
    Commented Mar 19, 2010 at 13:45
  • @Brett: You almost get instantly help on SO. You do not have to wait an hour. And if you really need that help, it couldn't be that hard to check the site again without email notification. Why do you expect people can help you anyway, when you do not say a few minutes and look if they ask for clarifying additions? Commented Mar 19, 2010 at 14:19
  • 4
    @John: I have not had the same experience as you on SO with regards to response times. Maybe it is the questions I ask but I don't seem to get responses instantly. It seems to usually take a few hours, though not always. I honestly don't understand the argument here. What good is email notification if it isn't real time? I see so little value in the way it is implemented, and it doesn't mirror how most people would expect it to work.
    – user144857
    Commented Mar 22, 2010 at 17:46
  • 1
    @Ladybug Killer - While you might get instant help on SO you don't on the newer SE sites, and I doubt SE will implement different architectures for different sites as it would not be a maintenance nightmare. Commented Oct 23, 2010 at 22:43
  • @Ladybug Killer: So, why is there a tumbleweed badge? ;-P Commented Jan 16, 2011 at 15:36

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