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I've started to see a new tab for arranging job listings when I search Stack Overflow Careers. Just below the search boxes, there appears a tab that says "interesting" and seems to attempt to arrange jobs based on some model of my interests. Next to that, there is the usual "most recent" tab that sorts all jobs in your search result set by time of posting.

I don't ever want to see the jobs arranged by the "interesting" property. Primarily this is because so many jobs on SO are related to website or app development, a field that I want to completely avoid. As a result, whatever underlying model they are using, its ability to discern that I don't want to ever see website-related jobs is very limited. So the jobs in the interesting tab, even if the underlying model is using reasonable features to categorize my personal tastes, just does not have an unbiased enough source of all jobs to possibly come up with reasonable suggestions.

I suspect the same phenomenon would happen for anyone looking to avoid major segments of the job listings that happen to appear on SO.

At the same time, I find that since so many jobs involve web technology tags, it's also impractical to filter in the search query by avoiding tags like "node.js" or "javascript". Some of the jobs I've actually applied to, jobs which don't actually involve web systems development at all, have had tags containing these things.

What I find works better is for me to just scan my eyes over all jobs, and quickly read across the tags, the title, headline, etc., and it gives me a better sense of what to click on for further reading. Thus far, almost none of the entries from the "interesting" tab would qualify as things for me to spend any time looking at.

Seeing results ordered by time of the post makes it a lot easier to diff against the set of jobs I saw earlier in a given day, so that I can scan very quickly.

To be clear, I don't mind at all that SO is collecting data about my clicks, my search strings, my profile, etc., and I don't mind at all letting algorithms sort that all out and produce recommendations for me. I'm very happy to use such things and eager to see if it can discover things that aren't consciously obvious to me directly.

But I do mind that the default tab in which results appear is the "interesting" tab, so that every single time I refresh a search or query a new search, I have to remember that the results that appear are not time-ordered, but rather are "interestingness" ordered, and I have to remember to click over to that "most recent" tab manually. If I check jobs multiple times per day, this becomes very pesky very quickly.

So, can we change a setting that makes "most recent" the default tab, and we can click over to "interesting" if and when we want to?

Example of what a plain search defaults to for me.

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Thank you for your feedback, it is interesting to know about your use case (which is indeed very valid).

The interesting tab is an early experiment, and new versions/experiments are coming to make it better and better.

For now you can simply add a bookmark to your browser that links directly to the list of most recent jobs. Adding some kind of UI to choose the default sort would add some complexity and isn't really worth it at this point when compared to the simple bookmark solution.

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  • This will work well for my use case, but I can imagine it would be a pain to maintain bookmarks to many different searches. For example, if I'm looking at my bookmarked search and then decide to further specify the search by adding "Python" as a keyword, and click "search", it will still order the result by "interestingness" / "relevance".
    – user183600
    May 31, 2015 at 16:23
  • I appreciate your goal to minimize complexity. One option might be to just make "most recent" serve as the default ordering, and place the burden of clicking on to a different way of ordering onto those people who actively want an ordering different from temporal order. I have no idea which type of ordering is more popular though. I would just add a caution that the absence of direct complaints about this may not be evidence that people prefer to see relevance or interestingness orders, it may more just reflect the base rate of laziness when it comes to requesting features.
    – user183600
    May 31, 2015 at 16:25
  • The interesting tab is only displayed in the case of "empty" searches, i.e. no keyword or location (for now at least). A search for "Python" doesn't show the interesting tab. The "relevance" tab has been the default tab for keyword searches for a very long time now, so it's out of the scope of this question. May 31, 2015 at 16:30
  • We have strong evidence that the interesting tab leads to more clicks and more applications (by up to 30%!) so, in the general case, users benefit from the interesting tab being the default tab. May 31, 2015 at 16:31
  • I thought by saying "interestingness / relevance" that I was clear in my support for considering the two things to be the same concept. I suppose "interesting" means "interesting to you conditioned on your search, which is empty" while "relevance" means "interesting to you conditioned on your search which is not empty". I'd say the difference between them is negligible, and the property of which thing is default is the only issue. Again, I'm not claiming my opinion has enough majority support to warrant it, only that it deserves some consideration.
    – user183600
    May 31, 2015 at 16:32
  • Hmm, that's an interesting claim. I'm not sure that I believe the effect of leading to more clicks or more applications is necessarily beneficial to the people making those clicks or applications. I'd have to think about it more. It's a bit like the moral hazard of data-driven ad systems. The mechanism by which they cause a consumer to make a click decision is not at all clearly in the best interest of the consumer. It could be the case that they were prompted by some other causal factor about the ad, one which they consciously would argue motivates them to not click.
    – user183600
    May 31, 2015 at 16:35
  • Your opinion and use case definitely deserves some consideration :) Here we're not talking about ads, only the sort order changes. It is not clear from the tab names, but "interesting" and "relevance" are two different things: "interesting" emphasizes jobs that are interesting to you, while "relevant" emphasizes jobs that have the best match with the keywords you entered. May 31, 2015 at 16:39
  • I see, that distinction definitely is material, so I agree with what you're saying on that point.
    – user183600
    May 31, 2015 at 16:40
  • To make a shamelessly extreme example, you probably could get an even bigger increase in clicks and applications by creating a "sexiness" tab, and displaying pictures of attractive male and female models around the jobs (or letting the companies pay to do this). This would certainly motivate people to click, but probably on conscious reflection, they would say it's not really in their best interest to click to locate jobs this way. Yet it would be very hard to decouple the extremely short-term mental processes governing clicks from the longer term processes reasoning about appropriateness.
    – user183600
    May 31, 2015 at 16:42
  • Yes, yes, it's an extreme example, but I think the idea carries well to any sort of data-driven optimization tool which has as a goal to drive up the amount of short-term attention paid to a thing (whether it is an ad or a job description or whatever). There's a fine line between the service provided by locating appropriate opportunities that attract a click for real reasons versus exploiting cognitive heuristics and biases to win "empty" clicks. It's probably a really hard problem to quantify how this happens, which is why I don't trust click statistics as an unequivocal success metric.
    – user183600
    May 31, 2015 at 16:45
  • This is turning into a longer conversation which - although interesting - doesn't belong in comments. Note that the goal of the interesting tab is to benefit candidates. Nobody gets anything from empty clicks; we value applications and ultimately hires. May 31, 2015 at 16:54

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