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As I'm typing the title, the system volunteers a list of posts inspired by the words "frequent" and "tab" but despite this, it's evident by the relatively low number of upvotes that the tab does not generate much attention or interest, which might explain why it is hidden under more on the "All Questions" page.

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If I'm not mistaken, the frequent tab was created in 2011 as a means to record the increasing load of duplicate questions.

When many questions are closed as a duplicate of one specific question, that question is a "Frequent" question - that is, it has been asked, in different guises, frequently. In addition, if the question is linked to from another question, it is one of the "Frequently" linked to questions.

In essence the sort is for questions that have been linked to often within the site.

If you hover over the tab, the tooltip is "questions with the most links" - that is, with many questions linking to it. source

On EL&U and ELL I have never found this tab particularly helpful, preferring the combination of tags, keywords and manual search to find older questions with which to close the duplicates.

  • Who actually visits the frequent tab? – New Stack Overflow users? I doubt it, as I mentioned earlier the tab is hidden. Experienced and hi-rep users across the network? Maybe. Does anyone go beyond the second page looking for that canonical question to close the new one?

  • How useful is the frequent tab to communities? I feel that the side panel that shows related questions is more helpful for users searching for answers, and for those users who smell a duplicate a mile off. What am I missing?

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    I'd say it's useful on Stack Overflow, as it's much easier to find the really frequent duplicates that people continuously ask there. Commented Jan 29, 2022 at 23:48
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    I’m the most active user at RPG and I just learned this tab existed. Commented Jan 30, 2022 at 0:42
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    Valuable enough that the design change a few years back that hid the "Frequent" selection under the "More" dropdown should be reverted to make "Frequent" a primary selection
    – charlietfl
    Commented Jan 30, 2022 at 1:51
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    Since it seems relevant: the [faq-tab] tag here on MSE wasn't renamed to [frequent-tab] until I did it within the last hour, despite the tab itself apparently having been renamed in 2013 or so...
    – V2Blast
    Commented Jan 30, 2022 at 5:43

3 Answers 3

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I do use this tab for learning a new programming language. This is the frequently asked questions tab, so this is what people struggle with the most when programming in this language, right? Then it’s better to familiarize oneself with these issues before they become issues in your own code. I sometimes direct new users to this tab and tell them about these advantages (as well as reading the tag wiki, etc.).

When voting to close as duplicate, I used to put emphasis on the fact that it’s a trivial duplicate, by commenting things like “This is the fourth most frequently linked question in this tag”. While this still directs users to this tab, I don’t think this achieves much else, anymore.

I don’t really use it for searching for duplicate targets, other than, rarely, already knowing that what I’m looking for is on page 1 to get a link quickly. I have my own text file full of duplicate targets that I collected over the years. My process for searching for duplicate targets involves Google’s site:stackoverflow.com search or Stack Overflow’s url:"link to documentation" search, or some variation of these; e.g. on Stack Overflow I sometimes search with is:a, the tag, and a few keywords, because I usually know the solution already and then perform this “reverse search”.

I feel the “Frequent” tab should be less hidden, because it is quite beneficial to new users who want to ask questions, but I don’t know if it’s more important than the other, existing tabs, “Newest”, “Active”, “Bountied”, and “Unanswered”. I, personally, use the “Newest” tab all the time by default.

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I think the one single post that goes most in-depth about the Frequent tab might be this one. It's a comprehensive critique and the 2 comments by Shog9 beneath it make me feel like I understand what the intention behind the tab is.

What can I say? One of the tags I curated last year has 14k questions and the Frequent tab narrows it down to 1.3k questions (over 90% filtering). I must also have read about a third of the tag and was likely involved in closing somewhere around 500 posts in it last year if not more.

Using search and bookmarks I find myself too frequently sorting through 100 questions in my search results to find a duplicate target. Had I known of the Frequent tab it might have been just 10!

I'm supposing it's SE's version of Google's "I'm feeling lucky" button. The closest thing to preemptively narrowing a search result by algorithm instead of user defined filter.

(I would have to give it an intensive use for at least a couple of months to see how it hits, and if there's a trade-off versus looking at the full search results. I think I tried it a few times but made the mistake of using it while looking for obscure niche posts instead of the more common topics.)

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I frequently visit the Frequent tab.

The main reason I do so is to get a URL to the questions for a tag (or a combination of tags), that shows just the Frequent ones.

For example, these are the frequently asked questions on this site for the tag:

https://meta.stackexchange.com/questions/tagged/duplicate-questions?tab=Frequent

Where I might use this URL is when it looks like someone might benefit from some background reading about duplicate questions. I would use a comment to point them to our self-assembling FAQ on duplicate questions.

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    You mean you frequently frequent the Frequent tab? Commented Jan 30, 2022 at 6:38
  • @SebastianSimon that phrasing was delicious :D
    – bad_coder
    Commented Jan 30, 2022 at 7:37
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    So, you choose a tag and then search the results by selecting frequent. I've never thought of using it that way. It kinda makes sense. I use the tab votes because the higher the number of upvotes the more likely it reflects the quality of the posted answers I wonder if the results would be the same. Commented Jan 30, 2022 at 11:44

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