256

A Release Candidate has been announced

A.k.a. the 2015 Questions to Answer Refactoring Konversion (QuARK)
A.k.a. the great cheese move of 2015.

TL:DR; we are looking to change the navigation of the question lists on the site. We are not looking to remove any functionality or break any existing link. This is not final. We’re taking a very iterative approach and need you to help us.

The full details.

The problem

There are around 20 different question lists on the site. They are grouped together on pages based on vague similarity, but the navigation is fairly flat.

We measured how people use these tabs to answer in real world scenarios and we found out that:

  • There’s no correlation between how easy it is to navigate to a specific question list and how much it is used
  • There is a very definite learning curve between users of different rep levels
  • Some combinations of filters and sorts are egregiously missing

We want to add new features and the current UI is not tenable anymore. Adding “even moar awesome” will make it even more confusing!

The solution

We have a working design and we will implement it, but it will be visible only to a few thousand volunteers. This is opt-in via a new “alpha channel” option (and people can opt-out any time they want). After the initial implementation we will iterate the design with the volunteers. As soon as we think we can share this to the wider community we will enable it for all (probably on meta.se first as usual).

The design

We have a clickable mock up prototype here!

mock-up!

  1. There will be only 3 tabs

    • Stuff to read
    • Active and recommended posts (for e.g. moderation, answering)
    • Stuff that needs answers
  2. These tabs will feature

    • a tag filter element to restrict lists to any tag (or favorite tags, etc.)
    • a “show” sub menu (with linky items) to choose a filter (e.g. unanswered questions)
    • a “sort” submenu (with linky items)
    • an “advanced” menu with linky options such as whether to display excerpts
  3. We plan to respect all existing links, they will naturally go to the correct tab/sub menu combinations

  4. We will remove the “Unanswered” button and make the home page part of “Questions”. They will all go to the same, unique page anyways.

The FAQ

Q: Why those tabs?

A: Because they largely correspond to the three main use cases of question lists: finding questions to answer, read or moderate. We want to make it easy for inexperienced users to find the right place to either read, answer or moderate.

Q: Why merge home & questions?

A: Because the simplest, expected behavior for a section called “Questions” is that it contains ...questions. The home page contains only lists of questions, so it belongs there.

Q: Why get rid of unanswered?

A: Because of multiple reasons. It doesn't make logical sense with the other top navs: The “Questions” section contains questions, “Tags” contains tags, “Users” contains users and …”Unanswered” contains questions again? We have ideas of other top navs to add in that menu quite soon. This creates some much needed space for them.

Q: What happened to excerpts and why?

A: Excerpts are still there. To turn them on and off you can use the gear menu or click on any link that currently sends you to a page with excerpts. We reserve to expand that menu with more features (just not in this first iteration!).

Q: Where is <insert favorite tab here> gone?

A: All currently available tabs are mapped to a combination of tab and sub menu elements in the new UI. Nothing is lost. We counted the clicks and most combinations are reachable with the same number of actions as today. In fact, the new tab combinations will be a superset of the current question lists.

Q: What happened to the "All Newest Questions" tab?

A: Nothing. Currently to reach it you click "Questions" and then choose the "Newest tab", unless that was your last choice, which we remember. In the future, you will click "Questions" and then choose the "Newest sort", unless that would have been your last choice, which we will have remembered.

Q: What is the "Show Recommended" sub menu?

A: it's the same as the current "Interesting" tab on Stack Overflow. It will only exist on Stack Overflow. All the other sites will not have that "show" sub menu in that tab.

Next steps

Are we improving something you care about? Is this iterative approach something you’d be interested in experimenting with us? Are there any major flaws in our “iteration one” plan?

We will soon open sign ups for the "alpha channel". Stay tuned.

  • 82
    I'm confused. The prototype is showing the site as if I was David, but there's no "schedule meeting" or "reprimand junior developer" button anywhere to be seen. That aside, my first impression is "Pretty nifty". – Tim Stone Mar 11 '15 at 21:25
  • 9
    Is it possible to see all newest questions? In the mockup, it looks like I can only see the newest "recommended", "popular", or "needs answer" questions, but not all newest questions. – hichris123 Mar 11 '15 at 21:47
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    What does the little blue plus sign do? – hairboat Mar 11 '15 at 21:47
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    For what it's worth, I think I've clicked the unanswered tab exactly five times. Three of them clicks meant for the ask question button. – Undo Mar 11 '15 at 21:48
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    @Laura That seems kinda confusing. The tab says recommended, yet I can change the options to show me all questions? Seems like the tab name would be wrong then. – hichris123 Mar 11 '15 at 21:54
  • 2
    "needs answer" has a pop up with "needs answered" and "no answer" (and also bountied). I presume that's no-upvoted vs. no answers at all, but I couldn't tell you which is which. It'd be nice if it were clearer (and of course fix the extra/missing ed) – derobert Mar 11 '15 at 22:01
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    @hichris123 And this is why we're gathering feedback and making this an iterative process :) – Laura Mar 11 '15 at 22:05
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    Also, that + sign you have for bountied questions, with the amount I've been staring at Android ("Material Design") apps recently... my first thought was that was how you ask a question. – derobert Mar 11 '15 at 22:06
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    If I want the current homepage default (all questions by activity), can I set that as a default or will I have to click through for it every time? On smaller sites it's actually feasible to see every new post, and as a mod on some of those sites I want to be able to do so. – Monica Cellio Mar 11 '15 at 22:18
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    @Sklivvz Here's hoping that "smaller" does not mean "everyone but SO". – user259867 Mar 11 '15 at 22:49
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    To answer the question, “Are we improving something you care about?”, yes, the old tabs were (are) annoying. After all, it’s about two distinct operations, filtering and sorting, and some tabs have an impact on either, others on both, without following a logical rule. – Holger Mar 12 '15 at 16:29
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    @j08691 On filtered views (by keyword, tag, etc) it becomes a different number, a useful one. It's better to have it consistently displayed than to have the sidebar content jumping up and down with view changes. – user259867 Mar 13 '15 at 3:41
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    Is the "popular" tab even useful? – Cesare Mar 14 '15 at 20:23
  • 2
    I removed half a thread after one of the parties removed a bunch of comments. Can I please remind everyone to: 1. avoid writing answers here; 2. be nice and 3 only debate my question? Thanks – Sklivvz Mar 20 '15 at 0:42
  • 2
    Why do you insist on using childish in-joke jargon like TL:DR? Why not use the universally understood Summary or Abstract or, since you've already offset it in separate color. Yes, i was going to post this comment question but i got an insulting message warning me not to. Way to piss people off! – Martin F Mar 20 '15 at 4:25

28 Answers 28

183

The [+] sign doesn't really tell that this is for bountied questions. It looks like I can add a new tab by clicking on it (like in my top bar). I'd suggest to display a number of bountied questions in this blue frame instead of just a plus.

  • 31
    I found that confusing as well. Also, if bounties are for extra visibility, why make the button for "featured" questions so small and ambiguous? – T. Verron Mar 11 '15 at 22:21
  • @T.Verron there's no tab for featured questions, but you are right to assume that the bounty "pill" is for visibility. – Sklivvz Mar 11 '15 at 22:23
  • 3
    We did try the number first but it makes it look like there are N question that need answer. that is not true. There are N questions with bounties that need answer. Also, the number is basically meaningless. – Sklivvz Mar 12 '15 at 0:29
  • 23
    @Sklivvz you're forgetting that not all bounties are added because they need an answer; you can add a bounty for a high quality answer. A bounty doesn't always mean it needs an answer. Therefore, I think it'd be a good idea to add a new tab for bounties, or have them appear in a more appropriate tab (based on the reason for the bounty). – Anonymous Penguin Mar 12 '15 at 0:45
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    It somehow defeats the purpose of "attract more attention" if those questions are then hidden in a tiny "pill". I would definitely miss the featured tab. – Martin - マーチン Mar 12 '15 at 10:05
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    Pfft the bounty system is broken anyway - does it really attract attention to questions in a useful way? When I look at the featured list it's full of very-hard-to-answer questions that have had bounties placed on them out of desperation by the OP. Sure, the site drew my attention to them, but doing so helped precisely no-one. Given all of this I wonder whether putting so much effort into throwing bountied questions front-and-centre is really worth it. – Lightness Races in Orbit Mar 12 '15 at 23:47
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    I really thought I could expand the bar to see more tabs. At least it shouldn't be a plus sign, but a star or whatever. – Bergi Mar 13 '15 at 2:44
  • Or perhaps instead of the number of bountied questions, the total amount of reputation offered. – Travis J Mar 13 '15 at 8:51
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    +1 If it behaves like the other tabs, it should be styled like the other tabs. Even when I clicked the + sign, expecting it to show more options, and instead it highlighted Needs answer and filled the screen with bounties, I didn't think "Oh, this is a 'bounties' tab disguised as a 'show more' button", I thought "This 'show more' button doesn't work, and it's selected the 'Needs answer' tab by mistake. Hmm, Needs answer sorts bounties-first, interesting." I'd never have guessed it was a bounties tab without reading that here. – user568458 Mar 14 '15 at 10:32
  • I understand the reasoning behind the +, as all bountied questions show +50 etc against their answers but in this context it doesn't work even with the presence of the "Bounty Blue". I would suggest changing the + back to a "Bounty Blue Pill" containing the number of bountied questions as that is easily identifiable as bountied questions. – Lankymart Mar 16 '15 at 14:09
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    it looks like a windows [+] where you can expand a folder, dones not look like a Bounty icon. – MBell33 Mar 16 '15 at 15:34
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    Was featured simply too long as text for the bounty button? I too find it very unclear. – Hannele Mar 24 '15 at 17:08
  • @LightnessRacesinOrbit On the big sites, I have found that a bounty does exactly squat. On smaller sites I have found the exact opposite! – fredsbend May 26 '15 at 22:19
104

I really like the idea of "stuff to read", "stuff to moderate" and "stuff to answer" tabs, but the tab names in the mockup don't seem to match that. "Needs Answer" is obvious, but I don't see the connection for "Recommended" and "Popular".

Edit: After thinking for a minute, my first thought for alternative names would be "Current Activity", "Worth Reading" and "Needs Answering". Definitely not the perfect names, but hopefully it helps.

  • 28
    Naming is hard. It would be great to hear some suggestions from the community. – Sklivvz Mar 11 '15 at 22:22
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    +100 This, that was confusing as hell when looking at the mockup. I don't have great names either. I like the "Worth Reading" suggestion, but we need something different for "needs moderation". – BradleyDotNET Mar 11 '15 at 23:48
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    @BradleyDotNET The "moderation" thing would have to change what it includes depending on the user's rep level, which is why I was thinking a word like "Activity" or "Updates" might cover everything a low- or high-rep user would want to be informed of. – Ixrec Mar 12 '15 at 0:02
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    "stuff to moderate"/"needs moderation" sounds like it's describing the review queues. Let's make sure our name doesn't imply that. – Jeffrey Bosboom Mar 12 '15 at 1:08
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    I actually like the Popular and Unanswered options. I just find the Recommended option to be confusing. I'd recommend something like Review or Activity instead of Recommended – Steven Doggart Mar 12 '15 at 20:34
  • 1
    I just love the word "stuff" ... greatest word in the English language :P – Pᴀᴜʟsᴛᴇʀ2 Mar 13 '15 at 13:41
  • We want names that describe stuff to read, stuff to moderate, and stuff to answer. How about, "Questions to Read," "Questions to Moderate," and "Questions to Answer?" – Kevin Mar 14 '15 at 2:35
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    Stuff to read: "Browse"; Stuff to moderate: "Improve"; Stuff to answer "Answer". – RealSkeptic Mar 14 '15 at 9:07
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    Keep it simple. Latest for the new and active stuff with the latest activity. Interesting for the stuff that's interesting to read. Needs answers for the stuff that needs answers. Or, alternatively, simply state how they're chosen: New activity, Top rated, Needs answers – user568458 Mar 14 '15 at 10:37
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    Actually, looking at it again and re-reading the post, I'm not sure I even understand what they're trying to achieve... does recommended mean latest, active, or new for you? Does popular mean active, top voted, interesting, needs moderation or is it some kind of code for "so many people are looking at these, they're probably doing it wrong, sort them out"? – user568458 Mar 14 '15 at 11:01
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    @user568458 That's the main reason I disliked those labels. They could mean anything, regardless of what they were intended to mean. – Ixrec Mar 14 '15 at 12:56
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    +1 to @RealSkeptic, I think having the tabs be verbs that indicate the action you want to take when you click them is far more clear than "Popular" or "Interesting" - in fact after reading everything on this page I still don't know what those metrics are – Devon Parsons Mar 14 '15 at 21:09
63

My cheese has been moved and I have a few comments about it. I think these three areas are most important to how I decide what I'm going to answer/read during this session on Stack Overflow.

Where are my favorite tags?

The favorite tags under the community bulletin is how I quickly get to the tags I care about. One click, from any question page, and I have a filtered list of questions I'm interested in reading/answering. If I want to be even more specific, I'm then presented with a list of related tags that I can additionally filter by. With the new layout, there is at least one extra step - I have to type in the tag (or tags) I'm interested in.

"But you can use the Tags -> Favorites option, Andy!" True. If I wanted to see ALL of my favorite tags at a time. I usually don't. I focus on one or two tags that I'm most interested in most of the time. They are favorites because I know the technology and could probably answer a few questions in those tags, but I'm not interested in spending my time wading through the questions as often as I do in certain, specific, tags.

Feature Request: Have a way to directly navigate to favorite tags. This is currently fulfilled via the list of favorites that appear under the community bulletin.

Featured Tab vs A Blue Plus Sign

Featured Tab vs A blue plus

This blue plus, at best, provides me no information. However, I'd argue that it is completely counter intuitive. A plus sign, next to tabs, means "Add a tab". All of my browsers have trained me over the years to understand this. If I want a new tab, I click that plus sign.

The featured tab, as it currently exists, provides at a nice quick glance if there are new questions on this tab. I don't know what the exact number of featured items was last time I visited, but I have a rough idea if it has gone up or down. If it's gone up dramatically, I'll click through it and see if I can answer any of the newer questions. A blue plus hides these questions. They are no longer featured. The bounty that someone has spent their precious reputation on is being wasted. There is nothing drawing me to these featured questions. The blue number on the current tab does that now. A plus sign doesn't draw my attention. Instead, it sits there waiting for me to need a new tab.

A minor UI gripe with this: When you click the tab, the active highlighted tab becomes "Needs Answer". When you click "Needs Answer", the list of questions change.

Feature Request: Expand the plus sign to be a full tab. It is already serving that purpose, it has just been compress to an icon, instead of a tab with a text label. Give it the label that it already has. It will also reduce the confusion level of what a "+" actually means.

Newest Questions without a filter

It's been mentioned in comments and other answers, but I think it's important to have a way to see unfiltered questions without multiple button clicks in various areas of the UI. It's also confusing how this must be accomplished in the "recommended" tab. New, unfiltered, questions aren't my idea of a recommendation.

Feature Request: I think this can be solved by a name change of the "recommended" tab and a way to short cut to certain areas. To get these new questions requires that I a.) Click "Recommended" b.) Click "Show: All" c.) Click "Sort: newest" vs the current a.) Click "Questions".

  • 2
    I don't use the favorite tags a lot, but I completely agree with the rest of this. Recommendations is a horrible name for that tab. I would call it "All" or "Filtered". I don't know what they're thinking with that plus. I've read what they're thinking, and I still don't know. – DCShannon Mar 12 '15 at 4:15
  • 1. The sidebar favorite tags will stay; 2. We don't want to add an extra tab for bounties, but we're open to ideas involving one tab; 3. The shortcut will be there, clicking questions will do that – Sklivvz Mar 12 '15 at 8:17
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    @Sklivvz, Why don't you want the extra tab? The screen real estate is there. In any case, I don't think the plus sign is conveying the idea of "Featured" properly. – Andy Mar 12 '15 at 12:22
  • Because "bountied" is a subset of "needs answer", @Andy. An information architecture that sometimes respects subsets and sometimes flattens them is confusing. We're trying to find a way to keep the tabs all on the same level of the information hierarchy without taking away all of the visibility we've historically given bounties. – Laura Mar 13 '15 at 15:32
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    @Laura, bountied is also a subset of "wow this is an awesome answer and deserves more than my single up vote is capable of". Bounties are for featuring a post. Not all bounties posts are seeking an answer – Andy Mar 13 '15 at 15:44
  • @Andy that's a case for eventually not showing questions with "awesome" bounties in that list, not a case for making it a tab. – Sklivvz Mar 14 '15 at 11:41
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    @Sklivvz, I'm not sure I understand that logic. Doesn't that remove the idea of featuring these posts? Or will these types of bountied posts show up in recommended reading tabs? – Andy Mar 14 '15 at 13:07
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    @DCShannon It's the first place I go to get the tag I'm interested in. – Lankymart Mar 16 '15 at 13:57
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    Yeah, if bounties are going to be made worthless or have their definition changed then that ought to be discussed very thoroughly and separate from this UI change. Letting people spend rep in order to have their questions more hidden behind a weird + button is absurd. – Matthew Read Mar 16 '15 at 15:26
  • I personally don't care if there is a bounty tab, and I don't think having the link to create a new tab that easy to accidentally click on, but I would definitely prefer a more customizable UI where one could add tabs etc. Although some complaints arise from a lack of understanding, users' dissenting preferences legitimate because we all use the site differently. If this were the case these types of debates over minor feature changes like this could be avoided or at least dramatically reduced. – nateAtwork Mar 17 '15 at 0:50
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    @Laura Personally I've never seen these links as a place to take me to subsets of the site, I've seen them as ways to quickly access some of the most common filters/sorts. In that regard, having a featured "tab" makes perfect sense. I think many others feel the same way. – Rachel May 29 '15 at 3:31
53

Q: Are we improving something you care about?

A: No, not really.

I would really (really) love a search box to be more prominent than the tiny box in the upper right. My completely unfounded and likely wrong gut feeling says that if you make it more obvious that the site is searchable then the tide of poor quality or duplicate questions (on StackOverflow, at least) should recede.

Something like this:

A mockup for you!

Edit:

As requested, I copied this into a new feature request: Make search more prominent on the home page

  • 3
    I actually do care about the navigation, but +1 for experimenting with the idea of a prominent search box. – doppelgreener Mar 13 '15 at 13:19
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    You should post most of this answer as a new feature request. Moving and changing the search box is pretty decoupled from the nav redesign we're talking about now. – Laura Mar 13 '15 at 15:22
  • +1 Your mock-up illustrates what I was trying to get at in my answer. – Jan Murphy Mar 13 '15 at 19:07
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    @Laura This actually has been requested a few times, that I know of (i.e: meta.stackoverflow.com/questions/256614/…), it just doesn't seem to gain much attention. Also, I am selfish and want to leverage the attention of this question for my own ends... :) – Tieson T. Mar 13 '15 at 19:14
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    So what you're saying is, this is a feature request intended to stop people posting duplicates or posting incorrectly, and you're knowingly posting it as a duplicate, incorrectly? :-) Fight fire with fire, as they say... – user568458 Mar 14 '15 at 10:46
  • This seems a bit different from JonH's feature request in that it replaces the "ask question" field with the "search" field (or melts them into one, depending on how you see it). A separate feature request may be warranted – Pëkka Mar 14 '15 at 20:51
  • 1
    My answer is also a dupe; it's on Meta somewhere. But this is an excellent time to bring back up both suggestions which are about "improving site navigation". I'll admit that when I need to query SE, I just precede my Google search with "stack exchange" and when I ask a question I basically only check the recommended side bar. It'd be nice to see more than two words in the search bar without having to slide it back and forth to spell check it. Separate requests are usually only vetted by the Meta elite and die before them; my 'dupe' has risen above the single digit votes of the original IIRC – Mazura Mar 14 '15 at 22:32
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    I especially like your mock-up because of the text around it, which encourages users to ask a new question. We get a lot of newbies posting what should be new questions as answers instead of boldly striking out and asking a new question of their own. So I'd like to see something that makes ASK QUESTION more prominent on the page instead of being stuck off on the right-hand side. I'll comment over on your linked feature request. – Jan Murphy Mar 18 '15 at 17:42
45

Are some of tabs duplicating another ones?

For example: what is the difference between "recommended" > "all" > "votes" and "hot" > "all time" > "votes"? They would both show all the questions sorted by votes, right?

And, by the way, in the "recommended" tab I supposed to see the recommended questions (whatever algorithm used to show it :D). But even in "recommended" tab I can choose "recommended" or "all" sub tab. Will they function differently?

Are the "recommended recommended" questions are just recommended and "recommended all" are all the questions? Then in the second option, all the questions won't be just recommended, but it would show the full question lists, right?

But if in the second case it shows all the recommended questions, I can't see the difference between those two options.

  • 24
    +1 because this answer is a brilliant example of why "recommended" doesn't make sense as a tab name. – Jan Murphy Mar 11 '15 at 23:58
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    From a UX perspective, I think it's much better to have redundancy if two use cases may wind up wanting the same view than to make a user who's looking for something "questions to answer" go down another path "most interesting posts" to avoid duplication. It's better to optimize for each user finding what they need in the path they'll be in. (Yes, I made up tab names there.) – Jaydles Mar 13 '15 at 18:23
27

"Unanswered" needed to be called "Undecided" this whole time; there's answers there, just none chosen.

"Unanswered" (the new one) should show questions that have NO ANSWERS. I can only fathom that dis-allowing this type of search is to prevent users from answering questions that don't deserve one, and preventing FGitW answers.

I rarely use those tabs because they don't do what I want, nor do they do what they literally say.

And Re. a post I saw on Workplace Meta about there being so much more white space when you click Questions (as opposed to the default page), that's another reason to ignore those tabs up there.

  • 4
    Thank you; somebody finally said it! – person27 Mar 12 '15 at 1:38
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    Or it could be called "No upvoted answers" (a little lengthy, but unambiguous). I think it's a bad idea to encourage people to browse a list of questions with no answers at all - it means that as soon as a crappy answer is first posted, a whole slew of people no longer notice the question. – Duncan Jones Mar 12 '15 at 10:18
23

I think it would be great to allow users to add shortcut-tabs. So as I wouldn't have to dig through "recommended">"all">"newest" to get to the newest questions.

Could you allow users to add own tabs near the default ones, which could be shortcuts to some items in those complicated menus? Tab-editor could be placed in the profile editor (and probably under the title of current tab on the main page there should be a button "manage my tabs")

Also, in the mockup I can't see "favourite tags" in the sidebar. Please leave this feature.

  • 2
    Tags will stay in the sidebar. We are considering shortcuts, but keep in mind that you can use real browser bookmarks as well. – Sklivvz Mar 12 '15 at 8:21
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    Clicking on questions will get you to the newest questions – Sklivvz Mar 12 '15 at 8:32
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    @Sklivvz real browser bookmarks may work if you only visit a few sites, but if you participate on a bunch and you want to tailor your view on each of them, bookmarks can become a little unwieldy. The supercollider strongly encourages us to use the sites, not bookmarks, to do our navigation, and when I arrive at a site I'd like my preferred view to be available there -- or, better yet, already displayed because of a preference. – Monica Cellio Mar 12 '15 at 16:58
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    Also, browser bookmarks presupposes that you have only one, or a limited set of, browser instances you use for SO. I regularly create a new profile, or need to switch from Firefox to Chromium, and often log in from a loaner computer, and my phone, which doesn't have a decent bookmark manager. +1 for @MonicaCellio's excellent comment. – tripleee Mar 24 '15 at 13:32
21

It is misleading in the extreme that the way to get the plain unfiltered list of newest questions is to tell the site that I want to see "recommended" questions.

When I want to see the newest questions, I explicitly don't want my view of the site to be restricted, filtered or reordered by someone's (who?) "recommendations".

What kind of UI wisdom says that the way to get what I want should be to click the link promising the opposite of what I want?

Edit: In chat I learned that the only content of the "Recommended" tab on sites other than SO will be lists of all questions by activity and age. Is there any reason not simply to call it "All", if that is what the tab will contain?

  • 2
    The behavior is the same behavior as today. Stack Overflow has an "interesting" tab, which is what "recommended" is. The other sites will not have it and default to "active" (same as today). – Sklivvz Mar 11 '15 at 23:46
  • Let us continue this discussion in chat. – Sklivvz Mar 12 '15 at 0:15
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    @Sklivvz If "recommended" corresponds to "interesting", how do I actually get to the unfiltered list of newest questions? "Recommended > all"? – starsplusplus Mar 13 '15 at 11:28
  • @JimBalter: The front page at SO has an "interesting" tab for me ... – Henning Makholm Mar 19 '15 at 2:23
17

The "tags" dropdown box has 2 options: all and favorites.

enter image description here

What happens when you type some tags and press Enter? Will the box still show tags: all, or would it show tags: followed by the tags you entered? If it shows tags: all that would be confusing since it's only showing the questions for the tags you entered.

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    A feature we're considering for v2 is the ability to save custom tag lists that would then be accessible through the tags dropdown. – Kurtis Beavers Mar 11 '15 at 23:56
13

I'd like the display of the questions in the list to change based on the list. If you are viewing a list sorted by recent activity, I'd like to see what that activity is:

Text area not working when the moon is full

Asked 10 min ago by Wanda

What kind of widget goes here?

Answered 12 min ago by Joe

PLEASE Help!??!

Flagged 15 min ago

How do you connect to a Tartran database?

Comment added 20 min ago by Alice

Reduce the font size of a widget

Edited 21 min ago by Bob

How many widgets fit in a text notice?

Bumped 30 min ago by Community

I don't need to see "votes", "answers", "views", or "tags" for this list. They just clutter it up and a are distracting.

If you a viewing a popular list, "views", "votes", and the question title are about all that matter.

  • 1
    Since "sorted by recent activity" is the default front-page view I'd say that votes, answers and tags are definitely relevant there. (And view count is probably as relevant there as it is anywhere else, too). – Henning Makholm Mar 13 '15 at 13:51
  • 6
    In particular, tags are relevant in every list of questions, since many SE sites encourage askers not to include context information in question titles when it can also be deduced from the tags. So if the question title is just "How does one blargle a whatsit?" one will often need to look at the tags to find out whether it's about Greek whatsits or the entirely different concept of plumbing whatsits. – Henning Makholm Mar 13 '15 at 13:56
  • Recent activity doesn't make much sense on the front page to me unless you are a moderator or acting as a moderator. Hot site questions would be better for new users and "things to answer" would be better for somewhat experienced users. Ideally, the front page would be customizable. I'd like to see some of each there, actually. Different sections, maybe in columns. – Stephen Ostermiller Mar 13 '15 at 13:57
12

I would recommend changing the font color/weight of placeholder "type tags to add". It is extremely faint, and I barely noticed it at first.

  • 6
    Agreed. I didn't notice it at all until I saw this answer. – Ixrec Mar 11 '15 at 23:03
  • 1
    We'll keep it in mind, this is a quick mock up. – Sklivvz Mar 12 '15 at 9:13
10

When I first looked at the mockup, my intuition for the + was that it was decoration for the adjacent "needs answer" tab, as in "These questions need an answer; add yours!"

Given that you have an explicit option for "bountied questions" as a filter under the "needs answer" tab, it seems that your intent is for this filter to be the primary means to access the bountied questions, and the + is intended to preserve a modicum of front-page exposure for the existence of bountied questions. However, by not making it a tab with an explicit label, it does not intuitively provide such exposure, though it does provide a shortcut to in-the-know users, saving them one click on their way to the bountied questions.

I agree with your comment, replying to another answer pointing out problems with the +, that displaying the number of bountied questions on the front page of Stack Overflow, doesn't tell the user much of value. Changes in that number are mostly noise to any particular user, generated by bountied questions that that user is not interested in. However, on smaller sites or after the user has filtered down to a particular tag or tags of interest, the number could become relevant, since each new bountied question may actually be of interest and worth hunting. Therefore, I think it does make sense to continue to include the highlighted number on the filter option, as you have in the mockup.

I also agree with Anonymous Penguin's comment on that answer, pointing out that the different bounty reasons should be treated differently. All except "Reward Existing Answer" request more or better answers, so it would make sense for questions with those bounties to be included in the bounty filter under the "needs answer" tab. "Reward Existing Answer," on the other hand, is a signal that there's something there worth reading, not that there's a request for answer help. Therefore, questions that have an open bounty of this type or have recently been awarded one should be in a special filter under the "recommended" tab.

Regarding the front page, I think the right thing to do depends on how valuable you want bounties to be. Until now, they enjoyed a prominent link from the front page. If you take that away, relegating their visibility to a filter, then you are devaluing them. Perhaps this is for the best, if people processing bountied questions is not as valuable to the site as a whole as was originally assumed. In that case, I'd suggest just omitting the + and letting people discover the filter when they're looking for stuff to answer under the appropriate tab. If, on the other hand, you want to preserve visibility for bountied questions on the front page, I'd recommend giving them their own tab, called "featured" or "bountied," instead of a confusing half-measure.

8

Here's a problem with the placement of the tag selection box.

On the current interface:

  • Home page: there is no box in that position.
  • Questions page: no box (to search Qs we have to use the box in the corner)
  • Tags page: "Type to find tags" and a box
  • Users page: "Type to find users" and a box
  • Badges page: no box (not really a big deal because it's a one-page list, but still not consistent with the users or tags pages)

On the new design, you want to put a box in roughly the same position as the "Type to find tags" box on the Tags page or the "Type to find users" box on the Users page, and make it a box to type tags in so you can filter by them. The function of the box will be different depending on what page the user is on.

I understand why you want to filter by tags. Even though I don't do that often, I grok that for extremely busy sites, this is needed. But what happens with the brand-new user? The box to add tags to filter by is now more prominent than the search box in the top nav bar, since it's more central on the page.

On sites like Google the user is used to having a search box in the middle of the screen. Some users may expect the main search box to be functionally equivalent to the box in the top right, as it is in their browser (e.g. on Firefox).

Complete newbies may expect the tag selection box to be the search box, as in @Tieson T.'s mockup. Why isn't the box to search for questions there?

Whereever the tag selection box ends up, as @michaelpri said, the text "type tags to add" is very faint. Should the text say "filter by tags here" or something else, and in darker print, to make it more clear that the tag box isn't the main search box?

  • 3
    The design is only a mock up, we will keep this in mind. – Sklivvz Mar 12 '15 at 9:14
8

There will be only 3 tabs

No, there are four. One of them – the "featured" tab – has a bizarrely counterintuitive label (and highlights the wrong tab when selected), but otherwise each of "recommended", "popular", "needs answer" and "+" all behave exactly like tabs in every other UI anywhere on the web.

I understand the rationale here (that bountied questions are a subset of questions which need an answer), but that is not the case. The bounty system is a contract between the bounty-offerer and SO: "I will give up some of my reputation in exchange for increased attention", and there are a range of reasons why someone might make that offer, not all of which have anything to do with the question needing an answer.

Bounties cut across the other categories, and given their purpose, they need a navigation element which is more discoverable than the one for those other categories, not less.

Fixing this is straightforward: just replace the "+" with the word "featured", and keep the blue lozenge. Personally I don't much care whether the number is also included, but for the sake of discoverability, a clear, descriptive text label is vital.

As a side note: the sentiment behind the comment 'that's a case for eventually not showing questions with "awesome" bounties in that list, not a case for making it a tab' is particularly problematic: now you're proposing not only to hide questions people have spent rep to promote behind an inscrutable blue pill, but to not feature them at all? That's just rubbing salt in the wound, and it's a violation of the promise that bounties represent.

7

One suggestion:

The gear was kind of confusing. It usually means "settings" but there are a lot of settings visible without it ever being clicked. Since the top area looks a bit cluttered, you could make it the only thing there, and clicking it would expand out the "filter", "show", "sort", and "mode" setting areas.

Alternatively, it could start expanded to educate the users, and clicking the button would collapse it.

I'm hoping this will be a good replacement for more current workflow, which is just to lurk the C# active tab :)

7

Consider the following workflow:

I arrive at the page by clicking Questions. Next I select Popular because I'm interested in that. If I now click Questions again the mock-up selects Recommended again. That is not the sub-tab I selected.

If that is the intended behaviour could instead be remembered on which subtab I am/was? If not server-side maybe per session?

That behavior of switching back to a default system decided subview is similar to what search does at the moment. It always selects Relevance where I find Votes more interesting.

  • I don't understand your suggestion, what would be the point of clicking on Questions, then, if nothing changed? – Sklivvz Mar 12 '15 at 9:15
  • @Sklivvz I've added some extra context. It might be only an issue in the mock-up and not something that will be in the final interaction. What I see as an issue exists in the today version of SE in Search Result and not on the Question pages/subtabs. – rene Mar 12 '15 at 10:04
6

Yay! This looks like a good idea. A few thoughts:

  • I don't know how the unanswered tab works, but I'd like to see it show up in that tab if there's no upvoted answers. In this case, the tab is a bit misleading. A title of low answers or needs more answers might work, in which case bounties could be scattered into this list, or separated.
  • Fix the add tag box! It adds a lot of clutter to the design and it makes it look like there's two search bars! I would suggest adding a link that says "edit favorite tags" that will pull up a modal or take you to another page that lists your tags, along with a button to add or remove those tags.
  • When I look at top--that is the Questions, Tags, Users, and Unanswered links--I usually think of each link as a subdivision of the site. It might make navigation easier if the Questions link is "active" when on the homepage. Any time you're looking at a question or a list of questions, it should be active. This would simplify the UI because it would essentially be dividing the site into categories, with the most commonly used categories listed at the top. To fulfill this philosophy, you've already started: you're already removing the "unanswered" link at the very top, which I always found that confusing because it makes it seem like unanswered questions aren't questions because the Questions link isn't active. I think it should be because you're looking at a list of questions. Didn't look at the mockup close enough: they added it.

On a side note, who gets in on the alpha channel and how can I try it out? Will it only be on SO initially?

  • There will be a way to sign up announced soon, we are still deciding the implementation details. We will turn on the alpha channel on as many sites as possible, including stack overflow, but not initially because of the load. – Sklivvz Mar 11 '15 at 23:36
  • How does "unanswered" give that illusion? Because someone might think the filters are for mutually-exclusive content? – Dronz Mar 12 '15 at 0:26
  • @Dronz I was referring to the top content of Questions, Tags, Users, Badges, Unanswered. All of those topics are separate, except for Unanswered/Questions. I like to think of them as "tabs for the entire site." – Anonymous Penguin Mar 12 '15 at 0:28
  • Oh I see! Thanks. – Dronz Mar 12 '15 at 0:35
  • On a side note, I think it'd be beneficial to add have the homepage "nested" under Questions to fit this scheme. I'll edit my post to highlight exactly what I mean. – Anonymous Penguin Mar 12 '15 at 0:36
  • Re your 3rd bullet point, that's exactly what we are proposing. – Sklivvz Mar 12 '15 at 0:45
  • @Sklivvz I didn't look at the mockup close enough to notice that. Great! I thought this change was limited just to the "sub-tabs" on the homepage (not sure the technical UI term). – Anonymous Penguin Mar 12 '15 at 0:46
  • I really disagree with the complaint about the tag search. I really like the tag filter suggestion - right now, it's actually quite difficult to just simply a) see if a tag exists or b) do a simple one-off search on a tag that's not favourite. I can use the 'edit favourite tags' widget, but that's counterintuitive, because what I want to do has nothing to do with favourites, editting, or user settings, and the Tags page takes me way from what I'm doing. A proper filter on existing lists and search results would be really useful. – user568458 Mar 14 '15 at 10:51
5

It seems that the "popular" tab is conflating two different ideas:

  • Recent activity - Newly asked, recently active - for moderation

  • Best of - Highly voted, most linked - for finding great stuff

Meanwhile, the "recommended" tab is also conflating two different ideas:

  • Interesting for you - for finding great stuff

  • All questions, sorted and filtered in various conventional ways

I'd suggest:

  • Convert "popular" to "active," focusing on newly asked, recently active, and "hot" questions.

  • Move "most linked" to be a sort under "recommended," rather than "active."

  • Consider creating either an "all" tab or a "browse" button next to the search box, that gives you a list of all questions with conventional sort and filter options, as if you searched for everything. That way, people who are used to working with a bare-bones list and coming up with their own ways to filter and sort it can have a clear place to go for that, and don't have to guess whether it's buried under "recommended" or "active."

    This could be a replacement for the "Questions" button, which is potentially confusing to someone already looking at a pile of questions and a bunch of methods for sorting and filtering them. The other buttons up there, "Tags," "Users," "Badges," and "Ask Question," are all primarily for meta-content rather than for browsing the site content, so "Questions" seems out of place up there anyway.

  • 1
    The buttons do double duty as buttons and as indicators for which page you are on. Note Questions in the mockup is in orange because you are on the questions page. Presumably as one switches to the Tags page, the Tags button would become orange, etc. – Jan Murphy Mar 18 '15 at 17:35
3

At first: really good idea, it is the time to improve this part.

But what means "recommended" exactly? Filtering on favorite tags or votes or what else?

I would have a provided time filter at "popular" for "today", too.

Further it would be great to be able to define some individual queries by myself. Where it's possible to define tags which have to be in- and excluded, also defining the time range. Additionally there's a need for a switch to show only questions with accepted or not accepted answers. It would be a nice feature to specify an max/min amount of votes for an answer/question.

I know, implementing such possibilities would require a bunch of new hardware, but could it be possible to provide one individual filter per user? The one I have in mind especially would require only one execution per day to optimize my contribution to the community.

  • 2
    recommended is what is currently known as "interesting" on stack overflow, it will be available only there. we are considering extra sorts, filters and features - we are presenting the first step of a multiple iteration process of improvement, so this will happen later on. – Sklivvz Mar 11 '15 at 23:21
  • Great! so this is a good start for it and I'll look forward, hoping to gain a sign up for this alpha channel :D – Marvin Emil Brach Mar 11 '15 at 23:42
2

I'm not sure if I'm happy with the tag selection box if I can only enter tags there.

Can it also support normal search?

If not I prefer it to be possible to take your input to the search box and/or start a search to bring you to the search result page.

2

Oohh yes please with the compact view esp. if you are planning to add more white-space.

On the Compact view topic, I like the idea of having an Icon represent a tab like Bountied Questions - Not a plus sign because as mentioned we have been trained to think of that as adding something, a question, or a tab, or an answer, or a comment, so don't use it for bounties. For bounties you could use a dollar sign or something that implies reward.

However, a single icon like a plus could be used in multiple places around the site wherever we want to add content as long as it's consistent and always means "add something".

Once we know where to find things we don't need a title where an Icon will do - Icons might be the answer to the "what are we going to name this tab" dialemma - a picture to describe the intention. yes lets make things less wordy but pictures can help our international guests too!

When we have a bunch of tags selected can we have a toggle so that the filter is applied as either "any" (a super-set of questions) or "all" (a very specific sub-set). Also, I know it's minor, but usability is about making the new seem familiar, the tags box should resemble the search box - search icon + default text(search) >> tags icon (on the LEFT) + default text(add tags) - something this simple should also be obvious... no thought required.

Why have a few pre-defined filtered tabs and have people like me constantly suggesting how the filter could be made more relevant (...for me!) when you could have one icon that looks like a filter which shows a Multi-Select dropdown with "no answers", "no upvoted answer", "exclude downvoted Q's", "popular Q's(more than X# up-votes) etc, then a little dividing line, then another category of filter. You could even move the tags selection into this filter dropdown as well, with the search box as the first/last item in that category.

And similarly yes, an icon for sort with a dropdown for dates/votes/activity or whatever.

If you can remember the last tab we had selected, it seems you could also remember what we last had our filter and sort selected as. I would think this would (almost) be set and forget for most users, if you are worried people will be concerned about the number of clicks.

I have gone on about Icons but I do realise that text is helpful too esp. for new or infrequent users. but perhaps there COULD be an option to turn that text off eventually... I like a clean/simple/uncluttered UI - but that's me.

I dont think "badges" belongs in the upper navigation area at all, just like priviledges wouldn't belong there.

Ask question could be a bit more attention grabby... on the odd occasion I have asked a question I have had to look for it. I think it should be treated differently because the others are "show lists of" and "ask question" is "do something" (perhaps a blue plus icon somewhere prominent).

These are just intended as ideas which might trigger other ideas... seeing as you are looking at these things. Also, for context, I predominantly answer questions and I think people who mainly ask questions might fit a different pardigm. I think these different use cases/paradigms are worth factoring into your design as well. I mean "Im looking for questions I can answer" is a very different use case to "Im looking for questions like mine". Considering the different use cases might help to reduce the number of duplicate questions

I like the site, and the cheese move.

2

I suggest making the "Needs answer" and "Featured" tabs one and the same or, alternatively, separate them more clearly. The current proposal is very confusing:

  • The plus icon relays the message "Add a tab" rather than "show bountied questions"
  • Even after selecting the [+] tab, the unanswered one is highlighted
  • The filtering options on both tabs are the same

Therefore, I think the best option is to combine these two tabs into one "Unanswered [nrOfBountiedQuestions]".

Should the need for a shortcut to the featured section arise, separate them completely and don't show the option to filter bountied on the unanswered tab.

2

I'm not sure if this is exactly what you're looking for, but I desperately wish I could click on TAGS and see all the questions tagged with ANY tag I've Favorited, and no questions that don't have a "favorite" tag. This might not be helpful for new users, but for example on arQAde I tend to favorite every video game tag for games I own, however there are tons of questions about games I don't own, and can't answer... it would be wonderful if I could see new Dwarf Fortress, Smash Bros, Skyrim, etc. questions all in one feed without also seeing League of Legends, WOW, etc. questions.

Edit: So there is a way to do this, but it's not simple, and most people who are likely to want to do it wouldn't know to.

intags:mine is:question shows all the questions with tags you've favorited, and only the questions. is:question is required to keep from having every questions show up Answers+1 times in the list (eg a Q w/ 2 answers would show up 3 times).

2

The navigation certainly needs a tweak. In particular, I see in your mockup things that seem to be basically the same. My 2 cents would be:

  1. Keep the 3 main selectors (show, sort, tag filter)
  2. Add the search as 1 more selector, not a global thing on top of the site.
  3. Remove the "recommended", "popular", "needs answer" tabs. They are largely redundant and could easily be integrated with the "show" combo-box. For instance, the same combo can include "popular", "recommended", "no accepted answers", "zero answers", "pending bounty", etc. You can do this a bigger/prettier combo-box if you like.

Overall, the idea would be to put all criteria for filtering and sorting questions together, making it easier to check the status.

One interesting alternative: you can change the "popular", "zero answers", etc options to be tags too. Put them in a different color since they are meta-tags, but with a unified mechanism to apply tags as filters. Some of them seem rather exclusive though, but for instance, "not accepted answers" would be include all questions with "zero answers too".

1

I like the idea of improving navigation, but there are some major confusion issues as a lot of people have already mentioned. For my answer, I'm going to focus on the Tags Filter part.

Ambiguous Tag box

  • What should happen when you add a tag? Would it trump your current tag selection and filter to only those ones? Or would it add it in conjunction with already filtered tags?
  • Looks like a big search box at first glance. As the closest textbox to the question list, something needs to be done to make it apparently obvious that it is NOT a search box and is for adding tags to filter
  • Hidden bookmark icon on the right of the box, that icon AFAIK, means bookmarking. We are not bookmarking anything here. Or are we?
  • "type tags to add", add to what? It would make more sense to me with something like "add tags to filter by"

Underwhelming Tag dropdown

  • So we only get all, or favourites? Not a whole lot of choice here.
  • In one of the other answers, you mentioned a potential feature in v2 for adding custom tag lists, I believe this would create a ton of useless list clutter, as more often than not, filtering for custom tags (non-favourites) is like a one time thing. I just want to find questions with those certain tags at that specific moment. I don't care about actually saving the list.
  • Another issue is the favourite option. Yes I would love to filter by all my favourites, but what if I only want to filter but a specific subset of my favourite tags? There is nothing in the current design that lets you do that aside from re-adding the ones I want one by one from the box.

Proposed New Dropdown

Instead of a normal dropdown, I propose a checkbox dropdown. The dropdown would include All/Favourites/List of individual favourites.

All - clears all other checkboxes and allows for any tags

Favourite - clears all other checkboxes and applies all Favourite tags

(Individual Favs) - clears All and Favourite options, allows user to individually check subsets of their favorite.

Maybe there are scenarios that this dropdown might not work well, but overall I think it would be a lot more helpful. I have a medium size list of favourites and not all the favourites relate to each other. At the moment I may just want my web-development-favourites, and this sort of dropdown allows me to filter as precisely and as broad as needed. See my basic mockups below.


All selected

All selected

Individual Favourties

Individual favourites selected

0

My main problem is that I don't get the answers I am looking for via search but if I use Google with similar search queries I generally find what I am looking for (still on stackoverflow).

  • I also find the same thing, but this thread is about the navigation layout, not how the search tool works – user568458 Mar 15 '15 at 19:03
0

The blue 'plus' sign is not intuitive that it's the bounty list, especially next to drop down menus (yuck, I sure hope the expanded view does away with ALL of them).

My suggestion for the tabs:

ALL | Recommended | Hot List | Bounties | Needs Answers | Needs Help

Sort by could be a drop down menu I guess, but it shouldn't change when you switch tabs.

Needs help would be every question on hold, late answers, stuff waiting in review queues or flagged for moderation, ect.

I like this flow as it starts with everything and ends with stuff you'll never need unless you moderate. Most people will find what they want in the middle 4 tags.

Ask a Question should be on it's own somewhere; a stylized button. Asking a question should be taken as an event not to be trifled with.

Parts of my other answer and Tieson T's all taken together (if not others here as well), would make for some good steps towards enabling the community to better take care of itself: getting the foot soldiers involved in helping clean up and reduce the noise they add in the first place.

-2

How about making the questions tab unclickable when already on it? Seems intuitive to me.

  • 1
    This isn't the way most websites work. If you are already on a page and click the link to it you typically get a refresh. – Caleb Mar 24 '15 at 15:37

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