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PeterSharp-4330 avatar image
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PeterSharp-4330 suggested PeterSharp-4330 published

Automatically follow questions and provide update notifications

For a site of this kind, the following/notification system in use is baffling to me.

There are so many questions where the original poster never responds, despite multiple prompts to accept an answer or provide feedback, and my feeling is this is simply because they never come back to the ticket.

Even if they do come back to the site, finding the content you're involved in is far too difficult. So difficult that my default path was to come to Q&A, click my profile, click Settings (this alone is counterintuitive), then click the 0 (zero) above 'following' (again, counterintuitive - the number is not representative of how many I'm following), then I get the list of followed items I can click on.

I now know I can go to 'Questions' and change the view to 'My Activity', but even this is set up as though it is intentionally counterintuitive. I 'follow' a question, but if I do happen to notice the ability to switch views, the most obvious category to try is 'My follows'. That is the action I am taking on questions, after all. But no, this is not what this view shows, is it? I have to use 'My Activity. I could use 'My combined feed', but this too is ambiguous. What is being combined? All questions and my activity? No.

It's worth noting that the 'My activity' is not the same as questions I've followed. It also shows things I've looked at even if I never followed or interacted with. This further obfuscates the real intent - to see things I am interested in - not things I looked at but had no interest in.

Apart from taking the above unintuitive actions, how am I supposed to know if anyone has commented or answered my question? The answer is, I believe, most users simply don't know. They don't know the question view can be filtered and wouldn't intuitively know which view to use. So much so that the bizarre method of going through settings was, to me at least, more intuitive. They cant readily see progress, so they don't come back to check, and subsequently never get around to closing out questions.

Yet, you seem to want to cultivate a user group that answers community questions. How incredibly unrewarding an experience, though, to provide answers only never to hear back if it was helpful.

So, my suggestions:

  • Automatically 'follow' a question where I submit a comment or answer - I'm involved now, and I'm at least somewhat invested in knowing how it turned out

  • Leave the 'follow' and 'unfollow' buttons to let me get updates on topics I have no feedback for but am interested in

  • Show a link at the top of the page with a number showing things I'm following that have updates. Think 'notification bell' on youtube.

  • Clarify the process of seeing followed questions, and use that terminology to identify them. We follow - we want to see what we followed.

  • I suggest a direct link to 'Followed questions'

  • Reformat the Questions page to highlight the multiple views available - maybe a button beside the 'All questions' dropdown to switch between what I assume are the most used views; All questions and My Activity

  • Provide specific views for 'Questions I Follow' and 'Activity' (I'm not even sure what 'My follows' is supposed to show - people following my account - how about 'Account Follows')

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