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Now that following posts (see also the prior announcement) is possible, I feel like this needs a canonical answer:

Question: What's the difference between "favoriting" (or "bookmarking") and "following"?

Thus far, I noticed that following applies to answers (as well as questions), prompts inbox notifications, and is not displayed to other users. There's probably several other aspects I'm unaware of, e.g., badges.

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Bookmarking

  • Only works on questions, not on answers
  • Is publicly visible (including in SEDE)
  • Generates badges: Favorite Question and Stellar Question
  • A list of your bookmarked questions on the site is available in your site profile
  • A list of your bookmarked questions across the network is available in your network profile
  • Does not generate inbox notifications, but the tab on your profile page contains a badge with the number of updates
  • Edits and new answers count as updates; comments do not
  • It's possible to search for questions favorited by a user with the inbookmarks:<userid> or inbookmarks:mine operator

Following

  • Works on questions and answers
  • Is not publicly visible
  • Does not generate badges
  • A list of posts you're following is not available yet (but in the works)
  • Generates inbox notifications
  • Edits, new answers, and comments count as updates
  • It will be possible to filter question lists to show only those you're following
  • Happy to learn that a list of followed posts is in the works. – Éric May 25 at 14:56

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