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Please don't mark this as a dupe until you've read the entire question. Once you have, see here for why it isn't a duplicate.

This question was originally posted on superuser.stackexchange before someone pointed out there was no way to implement such a feature without doing it network-wide, and to post it here instead.


Let me start by saying that this feature strikes me as the single most common sense feature that could currently be implemented onto the network: the vast majority of SE's value comes not from its questions, but from its answers, and questions are just the vehicle that leads to them. Therefore, exceptional answers are far more likely to exist than exceptional questions are, and the vast majority of the time, when users favourite questions, they're doing so not because they want to come back to the question itself, but one of the answers to it.

With this in mind, users across the SE network have been asking for the ability to favourite answers since 2009, less than a year after the inception of SO, and they haven't stopped asking since.

Some have even dared to be visionaries and proposed more radical improvements (i.e. bringing the feature up to speed with the rest of the internet), and others have pointed out that the current implementation has serious flaws. In short, the best way to summarise users' outlook on these issues would be that, when it comes to the implementation of features that would greatly benefit its users, the SE network seems to have become stagnant, at best.

In this particular case, Jeff Atwood's official answer to this feature request came two years later, a slightly patronising (and heavily censured) response explaining how to bookmark an answer. In the comments to that answer, he provides the only reasoning that:

We believe existing in-browser bookmarking tools are sufficient for this case. Considering the average stack overflow question has maybe 3 answers, tops, the distinction between "I favorite this question" and "I favorite this answer" is minimal. Allowing favoriting answers would also make the interface noisier, and implicitly encourage questions with lots of answers. This isn't going to happen, so either come to terms with the decision, or find another site on the internet that's more to your liking.

Jeff is no longer a part of the network anymore, so we can live in hope that those currently at the top are less hard-headed about the issue, but that aside, his reasoning given in 2011 is demonstrably outdated: it's now common for questions on the SOFU sites - and even on the slightly less popular sites like English.SE - to attract between 5-10 answers, and for the more popular questions to attract in excess of 30. None of this seems to have been taken into consideration whenever users have asked for the feature to be implemented over the years - instead, these questions are robotically marked as duplicates, citing a 7-year old answer with outdated reasoning given by someone who's no longer involved in SE.

Even if for nothing else than to prove SE isn't determined to let itself stagnate and leave its users behind with the features of a site from the 2010s, when are we going to get the ability to favourite answers?

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  • No, it's not a duplicate of that question or any others I linked. None of those contained any of the detail that my question does, including the reasons that the first link I provided states that a question revisiting an old feature request should have. I'm not sure why I'm getting downvotes for this, but I really hope it's not because people think it's a dupe. Sep 18, 2017 at 23:24
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    Downvotes on meta usually indicate disagreement, dislike or a position against the proposal.
    – Rory Alsop
    Sep 18, 2017 at 23:25
  • Fair enough. So why isn't anyone addressing the fact that this isn't remotely a duplicate as per the Meta answer I linked? I'm positive that this question's supposedly being a duplicate will be used to close it when I've gone to a lot of effort to show that blatantly isn't the case, only to have a bunch of users/mods disregard previous (linked) moderator positions to disregard all of it and behave as they always have anyway. Feel free to downvote it and tear it down any other way, but it isn't a duplicate. Sep 18, 2017 at 23:37
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    Have you thought that that maybe you are wrong, and the votes to close are because it is a duplicate? At least 4 people including me think it is.
    – Rory Alsop
    Sep 19, 2017 at 6:06

2 Answers 2

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Probably at about the point where that becomes useful for something.

The most useful part of "favoriting" a question is that you can find out when something about it changes: it's edited, an answer is posted, an answer is edited...

...Actually, that's it; you can't get notified when there are new comments, or if the question is closed, or even determine which of the actions I listed above occurred unless you click through. And to even get the list of changed favorites you have to visit your profile & look for the little number on the tab, a relic of a time when there was no "global inbox" as we think of it today.

So what would "favoriting" an answer buy you? You could find out when it was... edited. Which is the same information that favoriting the question gets you, albeit with slightly more granularity. Answers don't have titles, so the tab would just list the question's title. In the majority of cases, the actual outcome of favoriting an answer would look identical to favoriting a question.

Thus, there's no point. Not unless and until the behavior of "favorite" is changed to actually do something a bit more useful: list the nature of changes, populate your inbox with specifics on updates, etc.

See also: Adding Favorites to the Stack Exchange global inbox

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    "The most useful part of "favoriting" a question is that you can find out when something about it changes: it's edited, an answer is posted, an answer is edited...". I disagree, that's not what the vast majority of users use the feature for - they use it for saving, and not realising that's the case is being fundamentally out of touch with how most users use the site's features. Only on SE could a feature with over 200 upvotes and several tens of requests be considered "useless" by the few power users at the most bubbled corner of the ecosystem. Sep 18, 2017 at 23:26
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    People use "favorite" for all kinds of things, Hashim. I've seen folks use it as a jury-rigged "social network" wherein they favorite everything their friends post and expect them to do likewise - since it's public (unlike voting) it's possible to exert social pressure to "enforce" this sort of reciprocation (or even fealty). Are we gonna invest time building out features that make such uses better? Hell no! Nor is it worth dev time to build out a crappy replacement for your browser's bookmark feature, particularly when there are so many critical features left unimplemented.
    – Shog9
    Sep 19, 2017 at 0:00
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When I set a favorite I am setting that on the Q&A via the question.

Since any answer I may wish to favorite is part of that Q&A, it is already part of my favorites.

By not having answers directly favorited it means that each time I visit a favorite Q&A I am reminded that its question and all its answers are always ready for further review and editing to make them ever clearer and clearer, and more valuable to the community.

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  • I also favorite a question for the answers. I would say that it would be helpful to pin answers in order for duplicate votes. Takes me forever to recall keywords for key answers (like how to get group policy editor on. Windows 10 Home). The usefulness of that isn't enough to merit the work required though
    – Ramhound
    Sep 19, 2017 at 7:11

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