The homepage for all Stack Exchange sites is intentionally simple: it's a list of the last (n) questions by activity date.

Activity date means new questions, or questions with new answers or new edits.

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This has worked reasonably well for the last two years, but it is breaking down on Stack Overflow due to the sheer volume of questions per day. Right now we get about 2,000 questions per day -- more than one new question per minute.

Roughly a year ago I doubled the default number of questions on the homepage from 48 to 96. This was no longer sufficient. Now we attempt to display a thirty minute span on the homepage -- up to a maximum of 192 questions. At peak times this is not enough, either.

In the face of massive incoming question volume, the Stack Overflow homepage needs to change:

  • If you are an avid user, we don't expect you to use the homepage. You should be browsing by tag or tag combinations that interest you. However, users don't seem to discover browsing by tag very easily, even though we have literally hundreds of tag links on the home page. We need a better way to drive users off the generic all-you-can-eat-on-any-topic homepage towards their tags of interest.

  • We need a way to aggregate questions by tag on the homepage, without sacrificing the core "every question gets featured on the homepage for a little while" mechanic.

  • The homepage should still be, fundamentally, a list of questions that reflect what the site is about. New users who stumble upon the site for the first time should see "ah, so this is what this website is all about". It should be obvious.

How would you propose redesigning the Stack Overflow homepage to meet these needs? Please provide mockup screenshots if possible.

(Any change would, of course, be specific to the Stack Overflow homepage only; none of the other network homepages would change. Stack Overflow the only site that has anything even close to this volume of questions.)

  • 31
    "If you are an avid user, we don't expect you to use the homepage." - I get no sense of this at present.
    – AakashM
    Oct 31, 2010 at 18:21
  • 17
    I actually do use the homepage (and the most recent questions). They're useful once I've filtered out the many high-volume tags I'm not interested in. My topics are slow enough that these things are still somewhat useful. Oct 31, 2010 at 18:36
  • 7
    @AakashM, I never use the homepage, I always use the Newest Questions page, or a Tag Search Page, though I dream of a Interesting Tags page. Oct 31, 2010 at 21:47
  • 2
    Just a thought: A solution to the problem can only be found by hiding questions the user is not interested in or moving them further down. Any algorithm that increases the time a question is shown to all users (e.g. hot tab) decreases the time of other questions. To increase the time all questions remeain visible, you have to decide which questions not to show to certain users. Oct 31, 2010 at 22:11
  • @Jeff Also note my answer to a similar question here meta.stackexchange.com/questions/47762/… Oct 31, 2010 at 23:10
  • Wow, they're actually doing this. After seeing all the SE 2.0 designs, I was surprised the main site still looked the same. I figured "that was the way the like it", so I didn't say anything. It's good to know that was not the case!
    – Mark C
    Nov 1, 2010 at 1:34
  • 6
    I'm very glad to see this question asked. I only wish you'd left out the paragraph asserting that the main reason for disuse of tag searches is a lack of awareness. I don't speak for everyone but I just don't find it all that useful; maybe that's just because the C#/.NET tags have the largest volume of lousy questions.
    – Aarobot
    Nov 1, 2010 at 2:40
  • 2
    Could you clarify the intended audience for the homepage? Currently most answers seem to target advanced users (people give solutions for their own problems), which should skip the homepage and use tag pages. We also know most site visits are from Google to question pages. Do we want them to visit the homepage too? Not to do some buzzword-dropping, but could you give some user stories so we can focus the discussion?
    – Jan Fabry
    Nov 1, 2010 at 12:27
  • 3
    Unless you build better tag searching (like OR-filtering on tags), I'm not going to use tag-searches instead of the front-page. Unless, of course, you make the front-page useless. Nov 1, 2010 at 16:24
  • @lasse you can already use or to combine tags. see blog.stackoverflow.com/2008/10/tags-and-tags-or-tags Nov 1, 2010 at 16:39
  • 3
    @Jeff Atwood, I think the problem is that the only way of combining tags today is to either explicitly click (which doesn't allow for multiple different combinations at the same time, and which also doesn't support saving your perferred combinations), or to type in an url, which I think you'd agree does not really fit very well in the whole "quick and obvious"-scheme-of-things. Since you seem to have all the wiring set up, why not add a more nifty way of joining tags together from the ui?
    – Mia Clarke
    Nov 2, 2010 at 7:11
  • @MarkC: FYI, this question isn't talking about a graphical redesign like Jin has done with the SE sites. This question (if I'm reading it correctly) is more talking about layout changes in the same theme to emphasize browsing by tag. Of course, it's possible we'll get a theme change at the same time. See here for discussion of SO getting the Jin treatment: meta.stackexchange.com/questions/67513/stack-overflow-redesign
    – Kip
    Nov 2, 2010 at 19:59
  • @Kip I didn't say merely "graphic design", but that is certainly on my mind. Thanks for the link.
    – Mark C
    Nov 4, 2010 at 20:15
  • I don't normally browse by tags, mostly because I spend time on the [SQL*] tags, and wildcarded tags have bugs (the ACTIVE tab doesn't work, for example)
    – BradC
    Nov 4, 2010 at 22:35
  • I don't know what of this you guys ended up implementing for the "Interesting" tab (tl;dr) but I like it!
    – Pekka
    Nov 9, 2010 at 15:22

35 Answers 35


I think the integration between searching and tags could either be augmented, or the usability could be improved.

  1. Search for terms WITH a tag. I've tried doing this in the past but couldn't find out how to do it. If it is actually possible to do this already, maybe make it a more prominent feature.

  2. Have a setting on our user profiles to treat the interesting tags differently. For instance, I would like to be able to only show the tags I've flagged as interested, instead of simply shading them a different color. That would substantially remove the noise on my page. If it could be a user setting that would make it even better, because we could switch it on and off depending on what we're doing at the time, or the type of user we are, etc.


On second thought, @Lance in the comments to the question had an even better suggestion than my settings idea, which is to just have a Interesting Tags Page.

  • for searching, see stackoverflow.com/search -- just try searching for [java] functional to see how it works. It's pretty easy.. Oct 31, 2010 at 19:47
  • @Jeff ah I see. Actually my second suggestion would be much more useful for me to reduce noise on the homepage.
    – Joseph
    Nov 1, 2010 at 13:03
  • @Jeff this might be a total pipe dream, but is it possible to use these search options via Google?
    – Joseph
    Nov 1, 2010 at 13:53

I would suggest columns and smaller fonts. The columns can be sorted by interesting tags, rep, or other things.


To help the outburst of questions, try a daily question limit. This will make users think twice before posting a crummy question. Additionally, it would make the number of questions less.


I think being able to ask an Extend Question (or Sub Question) would help with clutter. I often find a question which is a duplicate but hasn't been answered, answered well, or answered to my satisfaction. I'd like to be able to Extend the question with extra details and my own take in order to get an answer I'm satisfied with but without asking another question and risk getting closed as duplicate.


If you are getting too many questions, you must make the page simpler, more intuitive, and smaller. You want to accomplish too much on the home page.

The homepage should behave like a TOC. Don't show any questions on the homepage, but have clear navigation to sorts of them.

If you are getting 2,000 questions a day, have you classified them? That alone should give you a pretty clear picture what you need to accomplish.

Unfortunately, most programmers are too close to see a page from the user's perspective.

One specific suggestion: Design your page to fit on a 17 inch (43 cm) monitor. This will eliminate the questions about missing buttons.


An elegant AI solution can be implemented for the problem

This is a simple AI problem that concerns evaluating numerical weights to represent the relative importance of elements in a word based system. I propose an evidence based semantic ranking system, based on the bi-grams and word vectors of the questions and how it matches the labeled content in the knowledge graph which has been manually labelled by the users voting and tags. The problem with the current approach is its inability to understand the meaning of concepts in questions asked by users, hence it cannot reliably determine a rough estimate of how important each question is based on users activity.

Please read how Allen AI developed semantic scholar, a system to combat information overload and help researchers find the most relevant information efficiently here http://ai2-website.s3.amazonaws.com/publications/Explicit_Semantic_Ranking.pdf


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