When I click "View all inbox items," if I hadn't joined the Meta community, it will redirect my to "Confirm new account" for Meta. For some reason, I need to have a profile on Meta in order to view all inbox items. This seems like a bug to me. This is minor because it's not that hard to join the Meta community but it's a bug nevertheless, so I thought I might point it out.


The system is intentionally designed this way. The global inbox is stored on stackexchange.com and requires logging in to view. It was too costly for us to maintain separate login/signup systems for Area 51 and stackexchange.com and the systems in those places had not been updated in years before we removed them.

Rather than rebuild and maintain another system for those two codebases that would require additional maintenance every time something changed, we made the decision to use Meta as a hub to allow authentication on them in a way that we could build it and not have to do anything else with it. If something regarding authentication changes, we can make changes once on the main sites and the others will utilize it just fine.

The implementation does have the side-effect of requiring a profile on Meta in order to work, but we believe the trade-off is fair. We have zero interest in going back to separate login systems for those sites.

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  • But if your normal inbox is can be quickly accessed without a Meta profile, I'm not quite sure I understand why this implementation requires a Meta profile to query the remaining items. If that's the case, why don't you need a Meta profile to view any of your items? Does it have to do with your network profile? – user820743 Jul 28 at 1:25
  • That's simply where the full list is available to view. – animuson Jul 28 at 1:29
  • But if some of the list can be queried without needing a MSE profile, then why can't the full list be queried without an MSE profile? I don't quite understand. – user820743 Jul 28 at 1:31
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    It's really as simple as that: the only page we provide that does query the full list is in a place that requires a Meta profile to view. We could get the full list and put it somewhere else, we just don't. That would require cramming it into an already cluttered profile page on every site. – animuson Jul 28 at 1:34
  • Ok then thanks for clarifying. – user820743 Jul 28 at 1:35
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    The same login flow through Meta is able to log users into Area 51 without creating a Meta account. Why isn't the same thing implemented for stackexchange.com? – Sonic the Masked Werehog Jul 28 at 2:18
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    @Sonic It doesn't always and I'm not familiar enough with it to know why it does/doesn't in certain cases. But stackexchange.com is very, very different code from anything else. I'd still prefer getting to a point where logging in there isn't necessary but that project got sidelined long ago for various reasons. – animuson Jul 28 at 2:22

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