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I get that clicking the star to mark the question as "favorite" acts like a basic bookmark and "favoring" a question does not directly add to reputation. However, I think it does imply the question is a good question and might encourage upvotes to a question that does not deserve upvoting. The fact that enough "favorites" on a question can get you a badge only adds to that implication.

Sometimes the question is not so great however the answer is very helpful. I think we should be able to bookmark/watch a question without being required to "favorite" the question. I should not have to approve of a question in order to keep track of the useful answers.

Sure I can Bookmark the question on my computer but then I need to make sure that it's on all my web browsers, it's on all my computers and my phone/tablet.

I have seen lots of questions asking to be able to favorite an answer instead of a question. I do like this idea however it appears that most of those question get answered with "Just favorite the question" or Bookmark it in your browser".

This does not feel like a clean or useful solution to me.

Why can't there be a simple bookmark/watch button on questions that you want to monitor without being forced to call a question a favorite?

As a request for a feature like this appears to be shut down every time it's asked I would like to know the reason for this? It does seem like a good option for an improvement to the way we use the stack sites.

I look at it this way. If Stack Overflows goal is to create a repository of good quality questions and answers then why don't we have the means to keep track of the "good" stuff that we as a user find useful without having to indirectly say a question is good.

I would like to have a discussion about this. Maybe it will provide the "Bigger Picture" that can be used as a general go to when people ask for a feature like this. It can be either for supporting features like this or against features like this.

Keep in mind for this discussion, I am talking about the question that is not good but have good or great answers. I see nothing wrong with favoring a good/great question as a means to keep track of good question. I am more interested in keeping track of good answers for the purposes of this question/discussion.

Where we can start the discussion:

  1. Is there a general reason why a feature like this Won't work? Some technical reason that would just cause a big problem.

  2. Is "Favoring" just to bookmark really a good solution? Do you think it implies a question is good whether or not it is?

  3. Do you see this as a possible improvement to the system? Or do you see this as a possible deterrent to the system and why?

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    Is it just the name of the action that's the problem? Would you feel better about it if it was called "bookmark" instead of "favorite"? I know users who intentionally favorite crappy questions just to make sure they get closed/deleted. I really don't feel like we need two separate question markers.
    – Catija
    Commented May 11, 2017 at 20:04
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    For me if the "Favorite" was changed to "Bookmark" It would make more sense. However the "Favorite" option has been there for so long and I think it holds weight to some people and might be upsetting to them to have the Star lose its meaning. Personally i think there should be a bookmark option for the post and then a favorite option to express that to you the post is worth more than just an up vote.
    – Mike - SMT
    Commented May 11, 2017 at 20:11
  • I think what you really after is a way to favorite/bookmark a question without this action being public in your profile, or having any impact on the asker? If so better edit the question here to reflect that, instead of its current "wall of text" form. Commented May 11, 2017 at 20:15
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    @Shadow Wizard: Generally yes. I don't think a bad or question should be "favorited" just because I want to bookmark a good answer.
    – Mike - SMT
    Commented May 11, 2017 at 20:17
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    Chrome supports bookmark sync. Firefox supports bookmark sync. Safari supports bookmark sync. Opera supports bookmark sync. IE supports bookmark sync (but it's a Windows function so lots of variation, google it). Tons of extensions and services to sync across multiple devices/browsers.
    – Jason C
    Commented May 11, 2017 at 21:39
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    I.e. there's a zillion easy solutions to solve your fundamental problem of maintaining bookmarks across multiple browsers and devices.
    – Jason C
    Commented May 11, 2017 at 21:40
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    The fundamental problem is not confined to Bookmarks. If you read the answer Pierre.Vriens has given this is more along the lines of what I am looking for. It fills a need for active users and deals with the issue I have with favoring something just to keep record of a post.
    – Mike - SMT
    Commented May 11, 2017 at 21:42

2 Answers 2

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You don't have to think a question is good in order to "favorite" it. If all you're concerned by is the word "favorite", I think that's something that either SE can consider changing... though that means upsetting years of current usage or (more likely) you need to ignore the "this-is-a-good-question" connotation of the word "favorite".

There are no rules on what a "favorite" is. I've seen people say

Well, someone must like this question, they've favorited it.

To which I usually reply...

That doesn't really mean anything. I know at least one person if not several who favorite bad questions to make sure they get closed or deleted.

You already seem aware that making something a favorite doesn't do anything for the post (i.e. no rep buff). You also seem concerned about wanting to favorite answers rather than (or in addition to) questions.

From your comment:

Personally i think there should be a bookmark option for the post and then a favorite option to express that to you the post is worth more than just an up vote.

I really, really disagree. I don't need two buttons cluttering up the UI that do (effectively) the same exact thing. And if one of the buttons gives some additional value (like more rep), that seems rife for abuse. We are given one upvote per post for a reason. If you really feel strongly about an answer, award it a bounty. There's no similar mechanic for a question but that's .

If this is something you specifically want, I'm sure that someone might (if not you) make a browser add on... or you could just use your browser's bookmarks themselves. I don't see a benefit to this.

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  • I was not saying the Favorite button should add rep. I think the act of favoring just holds more weight with readers giving the question a "useful" feel just because its has decent count on the favorite button. Edit: As far as using the browser to bookmark I did mention that in my post. I think if we could bookmark from inside Stack Sites it would be less troublesome to keep track of my bookmarks on several devices and browsers. For example. If I am at someones home with a device that is not my own. I can log in and show them the post by looking up my bookmarks on my account.
    – Mike - SMT
    Commented May 11, 2017 at 20:26
  • I get that one does not have to think of a "favorite" mean the question is good but people will think this way. Sure not everyone. Maybe no even half. But if even 5% think a question is good because its been Favored then this could compelled them to up vote or think that questions like that are good question and they can do the same. That is enough people to make a difference on rep and the amount of bad questions being asked.
    – Mike - SMT
    Commented May 11, 2017 at 20:31
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I'm afraid that implemeting what you're asking for is not obvious to implement. However maybe your goal can be achieved also by introducing something what I'd call introducing the concepts of "labels" to be used by a user for the purpose of personalisation. Read on for more details.

The concept of a label

Think of a label as similar to favorites, whereas each user is free to "mark" something with such label, but with many more extra facilities, and not only to allow a user to mark selected questions using a boolean variable that is on or off.

Adding labels

It should be possible to use these label for basically anything that some user might want to use a label for. Here are some examples (incomplete list):

  • questions.
  • answers.
  • comments.
  • tags.
  • users.
  • reviews.
  • ... (what else?).

Personalization of label

It should be possible for each user to define custom attributes for each of those labels, probably stored somehow in conjunction with the user's profile, and ideally with some type of indication if these attributes are to be considered as private (not shown to anybody) or public (visible to anybody).

Examples of such custom attributes could be:

  • Status (= Action, WaitFor, Defer, ...), to make it possible to start processing questions (or answers, comments, etc) in a way similar to processing your eMail inbox messages.
  • Context (= Question, Answer, Comment, User, ...), to configure for which kind of SE objects you want to be able to use a specific label.
  • Mark as (= Read, Unread), similar to how eMail clients allow marking messages as read or unread.
  • Vote (=ToDoUp, ToDoDown, ToRevisit, ToUndo), to keep track of voting actions about posts that you want to perform later on).
  • Like (= Boolean which is off be default, similar to current favorites).
  • Ignore (= Boolean which is off be default, similar to how you can ignore specific tags).
  • Note (some kind of free form text), to optionally add some special note to remember later on why you added some label to a question, answer, user, etc.
  • ... (what else?).

Examples to use such labels

  • Write an answer to this question (for which I need to do some research first).
  • Add this interesting answer to my reading list.
  • Wait for feedback from OPer of a question (to which I submitted an answer before).
  • Remember to reply to some specific comment.
  • Visit other answers from some user who seems to be an expert on topic X.
  • Remember to vote on some post later on (today I ran out of votes ...).
  • Annotate some post to perform some voting action later on (eg to revisit a post you downvoted, as an alternative to this request).
  • Mark this question to possibly ever start a bounty for it.
  • Submit an edit suggestion for this tag.
  • ... (I could add another few dozens of such examples).

Implementation

Obvious, implementing the above concept is not a simple thing. But note that it would be like implementing a new concept (way easier then changing an existing concept like favorites), which can be done using a step by step approach. E.g. start with (only) answers, then comments, then tags, or users, and in the end possibly replacing (migrating?) favorites (of questions).

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  • I see the possibilities with something like this. My Idea is not to fundamentally change favorite. I would just like to be able to bookmark. (maybe with a tag system like you have mentioned) a post without favoring said post.
    – Mike - SMT
    Commented May 11, 2017 at 21:22
  • I do like the idea of labels. Much like labeling emails in outlook and filtering to see those labels.
    – Mike - SMT
    Commented May 11, 2017 at 21:25
  • @SierrMountainTech Well, that eMails labelling is exactly what I mean. After all, for somebody who's a bit active on some SE site, you could consider the never ending stream of questions, answers, comments, reviews, etc as equivalent to incoming eMails. And some of them "need your attention" (while other eMails you just ignore, aka delete). Note that by using "labels" I intentionally tried to avoid any confusion with terminology like tags, flags etc. Commented May 11, 2017 at 21:29
  • Sure. I do think that labels that are on your own profile for only you to see would be very useful. Have a tab in you own profile that is for labeled post. You could tie a post to any label or multiple labels to help you organize your time for your answers or questions on any of the stack sites.
    – Mike - SMT
    Commented May 11, 2017 at 21:33

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