There has been some discussion about getting notified on comments to questions or answers that don't belong to you, and the long-standing wish to be able to keep track of new answers or developments in questions asked by other people.

Previous discussion in regards to subscribing to questions:

In regards to subscribing to comments:

The general feeling - at least here on meta - seems to be against broadening the notification rules, out of fears of useless notifications to flood users' inboxes, turning SO into more of a discussion forum than it should be, etc.

Here's a suggestion that would keep the user 100% in control what they get notified about, not generate any notifications by default, and require only minimal modifications to the User Interface.

Each question and each comment area would get an envelope symbol.

alt text

it is inactive (=white) by default.

When those envelopes are hovered over, the tooltip says click to subscribe or something.

When clicked on, the envelope lights up in green or some other colour (but different from the actual notification envelope's orange to avoid confusion.) You are then subscribed to any updates to that question or comment thread.

alt text

For each subscription, you receive notifications in the "responses" tab, as if you were the owner of the comment or question.

alt text

To unsubscribe from a question or comment thread, you open the page, and click the green envelope. It turns back white, and the notifications disappear from your responses tab (if technically possible - otherwise, there just won't be any new ones added.)

alt text

No further functionality, like managing subscriptions or anything, is necessary IMO. If the flood of notifications from a subscribed question starts to annoy you, you just open it and unclick the envelope. Done.

  • It would make it possible to leave a comment to a newbie's question and make sure their answer reaches you even if they don't know they need to address you using @username

  • You could subscribe to those "oh, I'd like to know the answer to that" questions and receive active notification, instead of them getting forgotten in your favourites list

  • You could subscribe to discussions you are interested in the outcome of, but don't want to participate in.

  • It would (in my opinion) sort out a number of woes aired by many users in a good way, without adding annoyances to those who like the system just fine the way it is.

  • It would not require a change in the visible layout. As far as I can see, the space the envelope would need to be is empty everywhere.

I don't know SO under the hood of course, but technically, the system would be doing what it's doing already, notify question owners of updates - just that the circle of internal "owners" would grow.

  • 15
    Now this I can get on board with. Almost every other community-oriented forum/site has a similar feature and its absence on [M]SO is conspicuous. If this gets a status-bydesign then there's going to be hell to pay.
    – Aarobot
    Commented Apr 3, 2010 at 22:56
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    I want to see this get implemented as described. If you do too, vote for this: meta.stackexchange.com/questions/52971/… Commented Jun 11, 2010 at 15:08
  • @Kevin is your suggestion identical with this one? Because if it is, you may have to be more specific about what exactly you want to be more fine-grained. I understood your suggestion so that there should be more options for what to subscribe to in some kind of a control center
    – Pekka
    Commented Jun 11, 2010 at 15:29
  • Yes, I want to see the envelope icons, just like in the screenshots above here. Commented Jun 11, 2010 at 18:04
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    @Kevin, in that case, I am tempted to vote to close yours as a duplicate of mine, instead of upvoting it! (Evil, maniacal laugh) ;)
    – Pekka
    Commented Jun 11, 2010 at 18:22
  • @Jeff I rolled this back from status-completed because the way this currently works (in conjunction with the "favourites" star) effectively makes the favourite function unusable. This would still be good to have as an individual function to monitor questions you're involved in
    – Pekka
    Commented Jan 5, 2011 at 19:33
  • @Pëkka amazing you could do such a thing, think it's a bug that was fixed since then, isn't it? Commented Mar 10, 2014 at 9:31
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    The absence of this feature in a whole family of Q&A sites is a pretty serious bug. There's no way to play around it. This isn't a nice to have or a QoL, this's a design bug to have a site for asking and answering questions, one averse to duplicates (reasonably), and yet not allow users to follow questions they're interested in.
    – Noein
    Commented Jul 5, 2018 at 21:01
  • This should be implemented for those who want it now that we have better Email Settings: meta.stackexchange.com/questions/298906/…
    – pkamb
    Commented Oct 31, 2019 at 20:40
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    Related: Upcoming Feature: Follow Questions. Should the tag be updated to [status-planned]?
    – V2Blast
    Commented Mar 16, 2020 at 20:56
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    @Tinkeringbell I see you have added (status-review) tag. Should it now be (status-completed), considering the recent announcement: The Follow Questions and Answers feature is now live across the Network?
    – Martin
    Commented Apr 1, 2020 at 7:15
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    @Martin Us mods usually stay away from the status tags (with the exception of status-review now), but if you can flag this, someone else will eventually see it and see if it needs a completed tag :)
    – Tinkeringbell Mod
    Commented Apr 1, 2020 at 8:19
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    @Pekka Please consider switching the accepted answer, given the recent developments.
    – E.P.
    Commented Apr 12, 2020 at 7:37
  • How do I subscribe to receive email updates on comments and answers to questions that I post?
    – 2540625
    Commented Feb 14 at 22:11

5 Answers 5


See pkamb's answer for current implementation!

Ok, so this was largely implemented, albeit in a rather annoying fashion, via the notifications you got when a question you'd "favorited" was modified.

But then came The Global Inbox (Eeek...), and that went away. There is a proposal to bring favorite notifications back, inboxified and meaner than ever - if you yearn to watch, peeping-tom-style, questions that are not your own, I would strongly advise you to up-vote this feature request.

Note that comment notification is now flexible enough to automatically notify folks of responses to posts they've commented on in the most common scenarios (those involving a response from the owner of the post). "Subscribing" to comment threads is probably not going to happen, at least in the form described here - it would tend to encourage lengthy comment discussions, which we'd much rather bump into chat.

In light of these events, and per Pekka's request, I'm marking this - again, if you want to follow activity on a question, let your votes pour down upon this.

  • 7
    Two years later, lots of water flowed in lots of rivers. Any update? Commented Mar 10, 2014 at 9:28
  • 1
    ...probably no update. ^ Commented Jun 9, 2014 at 13:40
  • 3
    I feel that the SE team just decide to ignore the propesal
    – Ooker
    Commented Feb 4, 2015 at 23:41
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    "let your votes pour down upon this." I just poured the 100th vote upon this (yay!). So are you actually going to do anything about it nearly 8 years later, other than adding it to the long list of features that SE has no time to implement because they are too obsessed with useless features like the "new" top bar; an app without chat, review queues, site meta; jobs and documentation?
    – Masked Man
    Commented Feb 18, 2018 at 18:50
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    It appears this is one of those features many users want but sit around year after year after year without anything being done about them whilst development goes on for less useful stuff.
    – Brett
    Commented Jun 16, 2018 at 18:21
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    I've gone around and upvoted and favorited at least half a dozen questions here by now, all discussing and requesting some form of this feature. And at least a dozen of comments and answers suggesting stuff or detailing why it should be done and done soon, or why it wasn't possible or desirable at some point in the past. This's quite a bit upsetting, overall.
    – Noein
    Commented Aug 20, 2018 at 18:23
  • This answer should be updated to note that you can now "follow" questions and get notified about updates. Commented Nov 2, 2020 at 23:48

I like it. It's flexible with good control but low complexity.

Also, it helps deal with the fact that the mechanism that is supposed to tell me when someone comments with "@T.J. Crowder:" at the beginning (if I've commented before; there's a note about it here on meta from Jeff) doesn't work for my name, I'm guessing because of the dots. (I can't believe how many places screw up with assumptions about valid characters in names. The dots also mess up SO's user search.) So if I think follow-ups are likely, I can subscribe to comments on the answer and be more helpful to people.

But I've wanted this for a while now, even absent the issue with the auto-notification.

  • As an aside, just in case you never read it: officially there should be at least 3 characters to be matched -- How do comment replies work? No words on the dots though.
    – Arjan
    Commented Apr 3, 2010 at 11:58
  • (I left a comment for @tjc at meta.stackexchange.com/questions/45075/… Did you get notified?)
    – Arjan
    Commented Apr 3, 2010 at 11:59
  • @Arjan: Can't say whether I got notified, I didn't come to meta for a while... Commented May 11, 2010 at 8:44

This request has been implemented as the Follow Questions and Answers feature:

Get updates on questions and answers

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):

The initial release of this feature will allow any logged in user (other than the question owner) to follow a question. If a user follows a question, they will receive inbox messages related to any event for which the post owner would have received notifications


This is completed -- if you favorite a question, you will be notified of any activity within it.

Update: the feature has been pulled and is not currently available; see the most recently updated post on that

  • Great new feature! Does this also notify for new comments on the answers? If yes, do I have to favorite my own questions to get these notifications? Commented Jun 4, 2010 at 2:38
  • @chris indirectly; the LastActivityDate which gets pushed up to the post level is only edits or new answers, but the recent page DOES include new comments in its tab counts. Commented Jun 4, 2010 at 3:16
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    According to this meta.stackexchange.com/a/53580/161449 which has the last edit date of Jan 2012, it is not working. Which is correct, this answer, or more up-to-date linked one? (I personally do not recall getting any notification on my favourites, but that might be because they are old and do not change) Commented Feb 22, 2013 at 7:10

This has been for 7 years and this seems to be a quite low-priority feature for the team :(

This would be an incredibly useful feature for letting us know when a post we've downvoted has changed so we can change our votes, or when a question is clarified so we can post an answer and help the OP.

If this were to be implemented, it would also be nice to be able to specify what specific changes we care about (e.g. only new comments, or if the question was closed), so we can filter out unnecessary notifications.

I know one of the concerns in the past for having a notification feature like this is that there would be too many notifications for us, so this would help reduce the number a lot!

This feature was requested in SOX a while ago and I've made an extension for Chrome and Firefox that lets you watch posts for any specific changes on posts you want to follow.

It uses a similar idea to the OP and adds a 'watch' button (instead of an envelope) to the actions under every post on the network, letting you keep track of edits, vote changes, post state changes (e.g. closures), new comments, and new answers.

You can find out more from the Stack Apps post or the Github repo.

If you want to give it a shot you can install from here for Chrome or here for Firefox!

Extension UI

Watched Posts list

  • 1
    I've just installed your plugin and started to watch this post :D
    – pnz1337
    Commented Jan 12, 2020 at 20:43
  • @pnz Awesome! Please let me know if you have any feature requests or notice any bugs! :D Commented Jan 13, 2020 at 19:59

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