I find it odd that in the list of Active Questions, the name of the person is the last one who replied/edited/commented on the question. However when you open the question, you see the real author + last editor:

question detail

However, the very same question in the “list” looks like this:

alt text

This is awful, because it gives the reader the impresion that I wrote that question, which in this case belongs to Mr. Sam Day.

As someone who has editing permission on the site, I am constantly fixing small typos and formatting errors, but this makes my name appear in the front page all the time. (note: the site is apple.se, but I’m sure this is the same for others).

update: Let me put it in another way. I go to apple.se.com and I see this:


In both cases it looks like I asked the questions mainly because the second one doesn’t have any answer yet has a “name”.

In my opinion, it’s not clear and it should say or show both names.

  • That is a "last activity" sort of thing; it also includes answers (and other mysterious things) Sep 21, 2010 at 14:05

2 Answers 2


This is because the active sort shows the timestamp of the last activity on the question. This can be the posting of the question itself, but it also includes editing the question as well as the posting or editing of any answers. So listing the name of someone besides the source of the recent activity which the time indicates is going to be misleading in the context of how the page is presented to you.

Likewise, if the timestamps were instead the time the question was posted, it would then be confusing since the view would give no indications as to what the sort order is based on.

On the front page, this timestamp has an extra effect that clicking it navigates you to the latest activity on the question, if it happens to be on a post you can see. When you are viewing the questions list, you lose this functionality, but it also explicitly states "modified by". This is admittedly more or less implied on the front page, but because activity is pushed onto the front page for reasons beyond just posting a new question, it is important to have quick notice of who is responsible for the bumping.

  • I’m sorry but I find that extremely odd and so did four other subjects that actually asked me about the exact same issue. I don’t see any “modified by” (explicit or implicit). Unless you know exactly how it works (because you just told me), there’s no intuitive way to think it works that way. Especially because in any forum, that name is usually the poster’s name and in the case of other boards, both names are shown) or the words: “last activity/post/etc” is added. Sep 21, 2010 at 14:14
  • @Martín apple.stackexchange.com/questions?sort=active is where you can see the explicit statement. The point of the front page is to give you updates on what is happening, not just what questions are getting activity. This is also indicated by the tooltip on the "Active" tab. I would find it counterintuitive that a page which sorts data by answers and updates would not indicate the user which caused that update.
    – Grace Note StaffMod
    Sep 21, 2010 at 14:20
  • @Grace I understand that but I don’t see any tooltip on the Active Tab and tooltips are not useful for that anyway. I’m not saying that it shouldn’t show who caused the update, but it should always show the OP. Else, it’s confusing. Nobody knows that the page is sorted by “activity”. It’s NOT written anywhere in the front page, the tab name is far from a clear explanation. Active? what is active? What is inactive? Please, don’t give me developer answers, as Stack Exchange has moved from that niche. Sep 21, 2010 at 14:52
  • @Grace: Plus, when I go to somesite.stackexchange.com I don’t land in that page. apple.stackexchange.com lands in a page that doesn’t say anything about activity in the tab-bar (a bad place to rely on anyway), in the page name or any other place. I get a list of questions and a name. Sep 21, 2010 at 14:56
  • @Mart Forget the image, I misread your comment. But as far as what is active? Active means there is activity, that's where the term comes from. So as a simple person I would expect that Active relates to Activity. And Activity is anything that is happening. So, I would expect the sort to be a list of questions where the has been any recent activity.
    – Grace Note StaffMod
    Sep 21, 2010 at 15:19
  • Regarding listing the OP, I would actually consider it noise and not generally useful. Past the original posting of the question, any importance of the original author is only within the context of the question itself when I look at it. If I'm instead being informed that a question about some subject was just answered or edited by someone, does it really matter to me who it is that originally asked the question?
    – Grace Note StaffMod
    Sep 21, 2010 at 15:27
  • Let's put in perspective the general situation in which knowing the specific name is of any use, which is when the front page gets flooded by a bunch of entries that have the same name. If it is the name of the last activity, then it is important to notice that someone has just been doing a whole lot, something possibly worth investigation. If a whole bunch of questions from one user are bumped to the front, it is largely going to be nothing but coincidence unless all of the bumps are by the same user (who is indicated in the earlier scenario).
    – Grace Note StaffMod
    Sep 21, 2010 at 15:39
  • 1
    @Grace it does make sense, but then I believe that the text “modified by” should be in the list I mention. Putting a date and a name seems like incomplete to me. (And to these four subjects I introduced to different stack exchange sites) Sep 21, 2010 at 16:34
  • 1
    @Mart I agree that adding "modified by" in some fashion to the front page may be a good move.
    – Grace Note StaffMod
    Sep 21, 2010 at 16:38
  • I'd like to second the request that the username of the questioner be added to the 'active' list. None of the other meta data displayed next to the "last modified" user would be needed (timestamp, reputation, etc), but it would be helpful to always be able to see the name of the person who asked the question. I understand the rationale for highlighting the "last modified" user, but I haven't seen an argument for why the other user is not also displayed. It could simply say "asked by (username)" in a smaller font above the "modified x minutes ago" text -- informative, but unobtrusive.
    – phils
    Jul 18, 2012 at 13:51

Since this question was asked, things have moved on and we now display text on most or all sites indicating the type of activity (asked/answered/modified). This is a definite improvement, and satisfies one half of the need emerging from the prior conversation, namely for lists to always show the last actor details. But actually we can fully satisfy the original request without compromising that requirement.

When we view a new question in a list, we're presented with the asker's id and reputation. This is useful information since we know straight away whether the question is from a new or established user. Further, we also know how long ago the question was asked.

After any activity, we're presented with the last actor's id and reputation, and to date we've done this by replacing the asker information with the actor information. However, the asker information remains as relevant as ever in the list, and I think we ought to preserve it as well.

So I would love to see both asker and last actor information in lists:

enter image description here

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