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We are happy to announce that the previously announced follow question and answer feature is now live across the Network, including Stack Overflow, all Stack Exchange sites, and all Meta sites. (International Stack Overflow sites will have it turned on in a day or two once we have translations all set.)

You can follow any question or answer (that you did not author) by clicking on the [follow] button that is shown in the menu immediately below the post (alongside the [share] button):

Get updates on questions and answers

After you have followed a post, you will get inbox notifications for all new answers (in the case where you followed a question), comments, edits, and notices. You will not receive notifications for any action that you performed. As was mentioned in the earlier post, we are not making changes at this point to the notifications received by a post owner, or due to @mentions.

The initial release had been planned to only include question following. Thanks to many folks who chipped in over the past few weeks, we are happy to release both question and answer following at the same time. These are available in both the regular and mobile views.

We are still planning on two more related releases:

  1. Follows profile tab and question listing filter: A tab for follows will be added to your user profile activity page. Each user will be able to view this tab that will provide a listing of followed questions and answers, with standard sorts, and the ability to unfollow from the listing. Users (with the exception of moderators and authorized staff) will not be able to see this information about other users (nor will it be made public in the API, SEDE, or data dumps).
  2. We will be renaming the Favorites feature to Bookmarks. As we mentioned in the preview post, the feature will be the same as Favorites, with the name and icon updated to more accurately represent user expectations and usage. And you will be able to both "bookmark" and "follow" a question.

We hope that this new feature will allow you to have better access to the content that you care about and want to keep tabs on.

Update (June 11, 2020): The user profile tab and the rename of Favorites to Bookmarks have been released.

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  • 54
    Awesome. Very useful after downvoting or voting to close a question, especially as "unclear". Previously I had no way of knowing when a question was edited to be clear. Now I need to mass-follow questions. :D Mar 29 '20 at 14:32
  • 14
    So ... with a million followers you'll become an influencer, right?
    – rene
    Mar 29 '20 at 14:35
  • 14
    Maybe this should get [featured]?
    – Jenayah
    Mar 29 '20 at 14:47
  • 40
    I’ve already dismissed the “Get updates on questions and answers” tooltip five times. Apparently, I have to do it separately on each site I visit. How can I mark it network-wide as already read? Mar 29 '20 at 14:51
  • 9
    @EmilJeřábek Sorry, can't easily set it network-wide (the has-seen-popover setting is tied to a site user, not to a network account). Once it is loaded on a site and seen there, it should not show up on that site anymore for you.
    – Yaakov Ellis StaffMod
    Mar 29 '20 at 14:53
  • 2
    All right, never mind. Do you plan to remove the popover completely after some time, when people become familiar with the feature? Mar 29 '20 at 15:02
  • 5
    @emil the one time popover will most likely be a permanent fixture for new users. We will probably eventually turn it off for users above a certain rep threshold.
    – Yaakov Ellis StaffMod
    Mar 29 '20 at 15:14
  • 4
    Got to say, I like it. I somehow missed this and the announcement of it. Either I need to come here more often, or this probably should be featured. Actually, probably both.
    – Chipster
    Mar 30 '20 at 5:32
  • 4
    Do we really need this “Get updates on questions and answers” popup? Why not to remove it completely?
    – ks1322
    Mar 30 '20 at 12:33
  • 4
    @ks1322 We don't need it. But we want it. It is a useful way to advertise the new feature to users who otherwise would not notice it. We will eventually turn it off for users above a given rep threshold. But it will stay up for a little while in the beginning.
    – Yaakov Ellis StaffMod
    Mar 30 '20 at 12:49
  • 2
    In International Stack Overflow sites we'll have to wait for the translations (which is fine, I guess), but in International Stack Overflow meta sites the links are already enabled and in English. Thanks for the "consistency" (and for the - lack of - consideration that international sites have been receiving in the last years, regarding translation issues)
    – hkotsubo
    Mar 30 '20 at 14:37
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    @hkotsubo sorry about that. It is already live on the Japanese and Russian sites, and Spanish and Portuguese should be up shortly. I have been working with the site mods on getting these translated, but we ended up launching a day earlier than we thought due to scheduling issues this week. So this is on me.
    – Yaakov Ellis StaffMod
    Mar 30 '20 at 14:42
  • 3
    @YaakovEllis "We will eventually turn it off for users above a given rep threshold" That's great news; thanks!
    – TylerH
    Mar 30 '20 at 16:33
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    Would you mind to mark this as [featured]? I love the new feature, but I had missed the announcement so I had not upvoted it…
    – Bergi
    Apr 3 '20 at 13:01
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    @YaakovEllis These notifications are not available in /me/inbox. How can I retrieve these notifications through the StackExchange API? It is needed to support this functionality: stackapps.com/questions/3780/…
    – Rob W
    Apr 5 '20 at 22:21

45 Answers 45

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Questions I was following that were then deleted still show up in my list of Following stuff. But if I click to unfollow any of them, I get a message saying "This post has been deleted; deleted posts can't be voted on". Can I unfollow a deleted question please? Otherwise my following list can only accumulate lots of deleted questions.

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The popup appears squashed when viewed in portrait mode on iOS Chrome:

enter image description here

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  • 1
    This is one Yaakov is at least aware of, repro on Android FF
    – Nick
    Mar 30 '20 at 14:15
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Follow notifications from comments don't go away when the comment is deleted, unlike normal notifications.

This is probably related to this other bug report, but occurs for non-deleted posts.

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  • Follow notifications for comments are now deleted when the comments are deleted.
    – Yaakov Ellis StaffMod
    Apr 5 '20 at 14:10
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Yes, GDPR data requests will include a list of posts that the requestor has followed

Has the new data that is obtained from users here been added to the response body from a GDPR data request including posts being followed etc.?

If not is there an ETA on when it will be?

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    I am in the process of verifying this
    – Yaakov Ellis StaffMod
    Mar 30 '20 at 10:13
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enter image description here

I followed a question for testing purposes two hours ago.

According to another answer here:

Follow notifications from comments don't go away when the comment is deleted, unlike normal notifications.

Is now

But as shown above it is not yet fixed.

Two notifications are shown for one comment, meaning one was deleted. Further, the inbox does not reflect the revised comment, rather the two original comments before the delete and edit.


When more than one change takes place, group them as happens with comments on own posts (show only latest). And the user can check was else was changed. As it is right now, one follow drowns the inbox.


When unfollowed also as shown (after a refresh), the inbox items remain.

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Tooltip background color for follow button is white with black text whereas background colors for all other buttons are black with white text. This creates inconsistency in tooltip colors among the options underneath a post.

enter image description here

Firefox ESR 68.9.0 on Debian 10 GNU/Linux.

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  • No repro Firefox 77.0.1 (64-bit) Windows 10 2004. (All tooltips besides follow show native browser tooltips (i.stack.imgur.com/N0uD9.png))
    – Nick
    Jun 17 '20 at 9:09
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    Repro'd Google Chrome 80.0.3987.132 (64-bit), Ubuntu 19.10. The tooltip for "follow" also shows up much more quickly than the other buttons, and looks more inline with Stacks.
    – Mithical
    Jun 17 '20 at 9:20
  • Repro'd Google Chrome 83.0.4103.106 (64-bit), Windows 10 1909. I second Mithical's statement about the "follow" tooltip also appearing much quicker.
    – F1Krazy
    Jun 17 '20 at 10:11
  • This is probably a darkmode bug (or rather lack of feature) rather than a follow bug, likely your system tooltip colours are being shown for share/edit/close etc. and so are dark, however dark mode is only supported on SO main right now, I assume that if you hovered a follow button on SO main it would appear dark. And indeed this has been reported and deferred
    – Nick
    Jun 17 '20 at 10:18
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Access as a moderator, more menu items are displayed, so if the post is edited, the display will be corrupted.

Edited post: enter image description here

Unedited post: enter image description here

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    We are planning a UI refresh in this area that will take care of the current issues that you are highlighting. Unfortunately, there is not much that we can do about this until that project is able to move forward. So marking this as declined (though it will eventually be addressed)
    – Yaakov Ellis StaffMod
    Mar 30 '20 at 9:41
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YE: We had been planning a feature to add a "Followed" filter to the questions listing page. This is no longer part of the active plans. There are some complications with implementation which make that would require architectural changes to other parts of the system in order to implement this. So any possible implementation would have to wait for those to happen (it is on a list of things to do, but no time frame at this time).

The announcement states that:

Additionally a filter in the [more] drop down on the Questions listing page will be added for Followed.

I'm not seeing this filter in the drop down:

enter image description here

Note: The reason I've mentioned it is that there is a feature request for a /help/follow page that Catija and I are working on. See https://meta.stackexchange.com/a/350054/267099.

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  • Yes... Clearly under the heading: "We are still planning on..."'... And the update doesn't include that, so it's still not added, this isn't a bug
    – Nick
    Jun 27 '20 at 22:31
  • @nick Yeah, but the rest of this "We are still planning" paragraph has already been done. The reason I've called it out is that there is a feature request for a /help/follow page that Catija and I are working on. See meta.stackexchange.com/a/350054/267099. Jun 27 '20 at 22:35
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The follow link appears under answers in the Late Answers and First Posts review queues, but it does not work. The tooltip appears when hovering over follow but no action occurs if you click the link. Opening up the question and clicking the link on the same answer works as expected.

enter image description here

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Edits to followed questions that have been deleted should not trigger an inbox notification if a user does not have the reputation to view deleted questions.

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  • Please add feature requests as new MSE post. We are no longer going through and following up on feature requests left as answers to this post.
    – Yaakov Ellis StaffMod
    Feb 25 at 9:48
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Whilst it's not the end of the world, the 'followed' and 'unfollowed' messages on clicking follow/unfollow are glaringly inconsistent.

Clicking follow produces a box with pointer to the follow button. enter image description here

However clicking either the same link (now labelled following) or the unfollow link at the bottom of the popup message produces a blue banner.

enter image description here

0

New Users who post a Closed-as-Duplicate Question

This feature will be a huge improvement for Following dupe-target questions when your own question has been closed as a duplicate.

No longer will only the question asker receive the years-long benefit of notifications for new answers and updates to a Question.

Suggestion: strongly guide people who have had their Questions closed as a duplicate to follow the dupe-target Question. Do this via a "Follow" button in the Duplicate Post Notice or some other workflow that makes it easy and apparent.

This could be done for all users, but would be especially beneficial for new users. Perhaps even flag new users to follow the duplicate target automatically? Following the dupe target would be a welcoming "good" result of having your question closed and would "drive engagement" from those new users.

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    Auto-following dupe posters is not a good idea, because very many duplicates are duplicates of pretty active questions, so many people would suddenly get not so relevant notifications. And especially new users would be surprised why they suddenly get notifications for some post and don't always know how to un-follow. Mar 29 '20 at 21:11
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    We are planning on some ideas similar to this in the Close UX project where new types of notifications will most likely be used to inform users about their posts that have been closed. But we are not going to be implementing this suggestion here, and I do not think that we are going to ever auto-follow a user to a post that they did not choose to follow.
    – Yaakov Ellis StaffMod
    Mar 30 '20 at 9:58
  • Auto-following was not the main point of this answer, FWIW.
    – pkamb
    Mar 30 '20 at 17:59
-1

Since the "Following" tab is hidden for other users, move it at the end of the tabs row to stash it with the other tabs only you can see (Responses, Votes).

My profile:

row of possible tabs

Someone else's profile, where did the "Following" tab go?

almost the same options as above, but with a shift

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  • 1
    I'm not sure about this. It's related to bookmarks, so keeping it next to that tab seems logical too.
    – Glorfindel Mod
    Jun 11 '20 at 20:38
  • @Glorfindel true, I can see arguments for both sides
    – Jenayah
    Jun 11 '20 at 20:39
  • 1
    I'd rather optimize for the case when the tab is there. As Glorfindel said, keeping it next to bookmarks is a logical position for users who can see it.
    – Adam Lear StaffMod
    Jun 11 '20 at 22:53
-2

Show followers count of a post, same way we can see how many users have bookmarked a question.

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    Sorry, this isn't going to happen. We are concerned that if posts have the number of followers marked, that they will become magnets for answer/comment spam.
    – Yaakov Ellis StaffMod
    Mar 30 '20 at 9:42
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    @Ömer for stats only, we can ask to have it added to SEDE. Yaakov, is this feasible? Mar 30 '20 at 11:21
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    We don't have any plans to add it to SEDE at this time, for the same reason.
    – Yaakov Ellis StaffMod
    Mar 30 '20 at 12:23
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Update: We have added logic to the API to properly identify Followed-Post-Activity inbox rows correctly. This is the most that we can do to help fix this. In our testing, the apps no longer crash (but we are unable to perform comprehensive testing on different devices, nor can we make any changes to the actual apps to address issues that still exist with these).

The notifications only appear on the site; the app (at least iOS) does not show these notifications:

screenshot of notifications on website

Screenshot of notification on app

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    The apps have been declared obsolete, this is likely a non-issue
    – Nick
    Mar 29 '20 at 15:25
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    There's no way to have these appear in the apps without updating the apps, because the notification types are hard-coded into the app. We no longer do any development on the apps. Just be glad that the new notifications don't crash the app like they seem to do on Android.
    – animuson StaffMod
    Mar 29 '20 at 15:32
  • That's still very good to know for people who are still using those applications (because the mobile browser and responsive design versions are still missing some features). Mar 30 '20 at 4:44
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    "Just be glad the new notifications don't crash the app" .... oh dear... I mostly use the app for notifications ._.
    – Journeyman Geek Mod
    Mar 30 '20 at 10:48
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    Looks like we might be able to fix this server side. Looking into it.
    – Yaakov Ellis StaffMod
    Apr 3 '20 at 7:22
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