The global inbox was once introduced because it became hard "to keep track of all your questions, answers, and comments across every site you participated on".

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The small red number tells you how many new replies you have across the entire Stack Exchange network of websites. And by replies, I mean:

  1. New answers to your questions
  2. New comments on your posts
  3. @replies to you in comments

However, it's been a while since 2010, and there are many more events triggering an inbox notification.

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2 Answers 2


What kind of notifications trigger, send, or result in an inbox notification?

The following events trigger an inbox notification. They are grouped by the 'item type' which is displayed next to the site icon. It seems all items in the top-bar dialog are also visible on your global inbox page, except for Teams notifications.


  • "answer"
    • Another user answers one of your questions, or a question on which you have an active bounty.
  • "question migrated", "answer migrated"
    • One of your posts is migrated to another site.
  • "comment"
    • Another user comments on one of your posts.
    • Another user sends you a comment reply.
    • A post’s author comments on a post you have previously commented on, when the only other (undeleted) comments on the post belong to you or the author. (See here and here.)
    • A comment that previously didn't notify you is later edited such that it would now notify you (i.e. it's edited to @-reply to you, whereas it didn't in previous revisions).
  • "notice on answer", "notice on question"
    • A moderator adds a post notice to one of your posts.
      • This only applies to manual post notices; automatic post notices resulting from bounties or locks don't result in a notification.
  • "edit suggested"
    • Another user suggests an edit to your post.
  • "question edited", "answer edited", "code edited on question", "code edited on answer"
  • "question update"
    • One of your questions gets closed or reopened
      • This does not apply if a deleted question of yours is reopened.
    • You submitted an edit to a closed question and indicated it should send the question to the Reopen votes review queue, but the outcome of that review was to leave the question closed
  • "followed question/answer – comment/answer/notice/edit"
  • "Collective recommendation"
    • A Recognized Member or Collective employee adds the "Answer recommended by [Collective]" mark to your answer.


  • "bounty expires in three days", "bounty expires in one day", "bounty expiring soon", "bounty expired"
    • Approximately 72 hours, 24 hours and (depending on the site?) 15 or 0 minutes before a bounty you posted expires.


  • "moderator message"
    • You receive a moderator message, or (Moderator-only) there is a new message (by the user or another moderator) in a moderator message conversation where you took part in.
  • "community team message"
    • Somebody (another moderator or a CM) replied on a community team message you've sent. (Moderator-only)
  • "message" (seem to be one-offs)
    • Updated Terms of Service "We have updated our Terms of Service." (sent on 2016-04-19 to all users)
    • Stack Overflow Gives Back (sent on 2020-01-07 to all moderators across the network)


  • "election"
    • The nomination phase of a moderator election starts and you have enough reputation (300 on most sites, 1000 on Mathematics, or 3000 on Stack Overflow) to nominate.
      • You also receive a notification if you have the required reputation but not all the required badges to nominate on Stack Overflow.
      • You do not receive a notification if you were suspended at any time within the past year and are as such ineligible to nominate.
    • The primary or election phase of a moderator election starts and you have enough reputation (150) to vote.
  • "comment on nomination"
    • Somebody posted a comment on a post where you nominated yourself for a moderator election.


  • "chat reply"
    • Someone pings you in chat, or someone replies to one of your messages using the "reply" button.
      • Unlike other notifications, which are instantaneous, this usually has a delay of 15 minutes. However, you can opt in your chat profile to receive notifications more quickly, in which case there won't be a delay.
      • If you've not enabled the above chat profile option, you won't get a notification if you cleared the ping in the chat room within the delay period, either by posting a message in the room after the ping, or manually by clicking the highlighted number in the corner.
  • "chat invitation"
    • You have been invited to join a chat by another user or moderator.
  • "chat event"
    • A scheduled chat meeting (which you've subscribed to) is starting soon.


  • "private beta invitation"

    • An Area 51 proposal you've followed starts its private beta phase.
  • "welcome"

    • After joining your first site, you're invited to take the tour: "Welcome to [site name]! Take the 2-minute site tour to earn your first badge."
  • "[Team name] user survey"

    • You're invited to a survey about Stack Overflow for Teams.
  • "[Collective name] Collective"

    • Congratulations! You’re in the Top 15 contributors for the [Collective name] Collective
  • 2
    The chat notification delay is 15 minutes.
    – user392547
    Commented Dec 3, 2018 at 12:51
  • @Chair What is the delay for users who opt to receive notifications more frequently in their chat profile? Commented Dec 3, 2018 at 12:55
  • 4
    The short delay for chat is on the order of seconds.
    – Catija
    Commented Dec 3, 2018 at 12:56
  • @Catija The chat profile preferences page does also use the wording "you have the option of having inbox notifications more frequently". Commented Dec 3, 2018 at 13:05
  • 1
    @SonictheInclusiveHedgehog The factor being changed is time. Saying "frequently" makes it sound like we otherwise only let you know about every n messages, which is wrong.
    – Catija
    Commented Dec 3, 2018 at 13:07
  • Also: "bounty expires in three days", "bounty expires in one day", and "bounty expired".
    – Rob
    Commented Dec 3, 2018 at 16:59
  • 2
    @Glorfindel - Do some sites offer a 15? minute 'bounty expiration warning'? - I only see 3 days, 1 day, and expired; no 'almost expired' warning. Screenshot of notifications.
    – Rob
    Commented Dec 3, 2018 at 23:34
  • 1
    @Rob strange: this is what I see but that's May '17. It might have changed; it might be a timing issue.
    – Glorfindel Mod
    Commented Dec 4, 2018 at 7:08
  • @andmyself coincidentally, I got pinged by rene in the Tavern on 6:36am CET; I saw the notification at 6:51am, a few minutes before snoozing. So at least for me, it's 15 minutes; however, the inbox message is ante-dated to the moment of posting the chat message.
    – Glorfindel Mod
    Commented Dec 4, 2018 at 7:10
  • 1
    The "bounty expiring soon" was a notification sent when grace period starts, you also get email with title "Bounty Grace Period Started". The email is still being sent (got one today) however there is no longer inbox notification. Might be a bug though. /cc @Rob Commented Dec 4, 2018 at 7:15
  • 2
    Update: after deeper inspection, looks like the inbox notification appears only when there are answers that you can give the bounty to. Still need to test to be 100% sure then we can edit it into the answer. :) Commented Dec 4, 2018 at 7:28
  • I've found some more types by running this JavaScript snippet on the global inbox page.
    – Glorfindel Mod
    Commented Dec 4, 2018 at 8:19
  • I didn't get a message the last two times I was awarded a bounty. And you're right, sometimes inbox notifications disappear (e.g. when a post is deleted).
    – Glorfindel Mod
    Commented Dec 4, 2018 at 19:39
  • On Photo.SE with two bounties running I received 3 day and 24 hour notice for each and none for the time they expired (4 hours ago), they still have another 19 hours on one that I haven't awarded (grace period); so I'll see if I get one more. A newer Meta says it's broken: meta.stackexchange.com/questions/326773/…
    – Rob
    Commented Apr 24, 2019 at 23:56

What kind of events do not trigger an inbox notification, even though one might expect so?

Some notable events do not trigger an inbox notification:

  • One of your posts or comments is deleted or undeleted.
  • One of your questions becomes, or gets removed from, Hot Network Questions.
  • One of your questions is tweeted onto the site's Twitter account.
  • One of your posts is locked.
  • One of your posts receives a non-substantive edit (e.g. a tag-only edit; this includes addition or removal of moderator-only tags, such as status tags).
  • One of your posts is edited by an automated script (e.g. the CommonMark migration tool, changing HTTP links to HTTPS, etc.), even if the edit would otherwise qualify as substantive.
  • One of your posts is rolled back (even if it would qualify as a substantive edit).
  • Someone else starts a bounty on one of your questions.
  • A deleted answer to one of your questions is undeleted.
  • An edit is made on an answer to one of your questions, or a question on which you have an active bounty.
  • The author of a post posts a comment in a thread where your comment is the latest (unless they explicitly reply to you by using @, or you're the only other participant in the discussion).
  • Your @username is mentioned in an answer.

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