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    I enjoy learning new things from mathoverflow. So I like to go through some older threads (some only a few weeks old, others as old as three years), think about the questions, and read the answers. Some of these older threads do not have answers yet, or at least satisfying answers. Luckily, some interesting answer to an old question will pop up occasionally.

    Question: What is the best way to keep up with these answers to older questions?

    As far as I can tell, a new answer will bump the question to the top of the front page, but the turnover there is very high, so it is easy to miss. It does not seem that a new answer bumps the question to the top of tag-specific pages, which would be much more helpful for this purpose. The tag-specific RSS feeds do update when new answers are posted, and this is the only way I have found to somewhat deal with the situation.

    I have a few related questions of a more general nature. Occasionally, new answers to old questions are very interesting, especially if the question had not received a good answer due to being difficult. However, it seems to me that such answers may sometimes receive little attention due to the issues described in the previous paragraph. Beyond the obvious consequences, it also leads to reduced scrutiny of what might be a very technical or difficult answer, possibly leaving doubts about its correctness.

    Related questions: Is there some way to bolster the attention these answers get? Are there some plans for the future of mathoverflow which seek to address this issue? Do other people even consider it to be an issue?

    • CommentAuthorquid
    • CommentTimeMar 31st 2013

    It does not seem that a new answer bumps the question to the top of tag-specific pages, which would be much more helpful for this purpose.

    It does. At the time of writing this the fourth question in tag-view of ag.algebraic-geometry is from 2010! (To make this a bit more a stable statement I mean 'fundamental groups of topoi') Of course, one needs to select the criterion 'active' for my statement to be true.

    Possibly, for viewing tag specific lists you just never used the criterion 'active' but, say, 'new'.


    @quid: Thank you so much. I certainly feel a bit silly now, but I honestly had never discovered that last tab saying "active". Now it will be much easier for me to keep track of old questions! Well, I guess my question does not make so much sense now. In any case, do you (or anyone else) have any idea if people often view questions by their activity status? Or do most people use the "new" tab, like I did?

    • CommentAuthorquid
    • CommentTimeMar 31st 2013

    @Ricardo Andrade: you are welcome. My general impression from what is said here (on meta), sometimes indirectly so I might misinterpret it too, is that not few people (at least among those that do not use feeds) mainly look at the "frontpage" (which is 'active', for all I know) possibly with some interesting/ignored tag settings and that's it.

    This is also what I do/did mostly. (Perhaps my perception is also biased by this.) When I use the site more infrequently I go by 'new' (yet still everything, i.e., no tag restrictions), in addition. (At first glance it might seem absurd that I say I do two things when using it infrequently while one when frequently; but the point is with new I make sure I do not completely miss anything and with active I look around a bit; while if I use it frequently the looking around is so intense that the former is virtually redundant.)

    It might also be that the new answers to old questions, in particular if they are second, third or still later answers do not get much reception not because people do not see the question at all, but just do not click through anymore, as they know it already. But this is hard to tell. You might consider asking a more general question here, or wait for a while for additional input; meta can be quite idle on weekends.


    @quid: Thanks for the valuable information. I will wait to see if other people provide additional input.


    Just to add another data point, I look at the front page (with 'active' tab selected, which I think is the default), but I only pay attention to the items highlighted in yellow according to list of "interesting tags" I've selected. I typically don't even read/notice the title of the non-yellow items. Advantages of this approach include (1) saving a lot of time, and (2) not getting annoyed by too many big-list questions, or too many algebraic geometry questions, etc. The disadvantage is that I miss the small percentage of non-yellow items which I would actually find interesting and useful.