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This is probably a more general question, not specific to MSE. But anyway...

The main page lists attributes questions to the last editor, which may not be the original author. I find this misleading as a question from say Arturo is certainly something I want to read, but probably not as much as if it's a question that Arturo has just edited to make it prettier.

Can the main page list both the original author and the latest editor? Something like

2m edited by John, originally asked 3 days ago by Mary.

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    $\begingroup$ It is fine to ask general questions about the engine here, because Mathematics Stack Exchange still uses that engine, and you are a user of this site. $\endgroup$ – Grace Note Sep 27 '11 at 17:11
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Who is listed on the questions list is dependent on the view you are looking at.

Example layout of the tabs

All of the tabs except Active will list the question author.

Only Active lists anything else, and this is because the most recent actor is the most relevant piece of information to that particular view. The Active view lists posts in accordance to the most recent form of activity on the post. This means the initial asking, any answers, and any edits to either the question or the answers by anyone. The signature line will tell you who the source of the action was - this can let you see if, for example, one particular user has gone and made 10 edits in a row, or that someone just answered 15 questions. It essentially is responsible for telling you who is responsible for the post being visible to you right now. That's also why the timestamp is that of the latest action - it tells you immediately what is going on. The original author is not very relevant on this particular sort order, in the traditional utility of that view.

The front page uses the same sorting algorithm as the Active view, so consequently it uses the same logic to determine whose name is shown. This actually has a secondary effect as well. On the front page, the time stamp next to the username will link to the post where that user performed an action. So if it was an answer, it'll link to that answer. If it was an edit, it will link to the post that was edited.

If your interest is in seeing the latest questions, especially if to see if something has come from a particular user or not, I would recommend browsing in the Newest tab. This will not only highlight the author of the question, but also let you browse new questions without the hindrance of bumps, if question activity is not of your interest.


On the topic of listing both - I'm not entirely fond of it because it only affects one view. The "most recent actor" is not all that relevant when browsing any of the other tabs, so you wouldn't need to list both in all those scenarios. You also may consider when the most recent actor is the question author - it gets a bit redundant for any new question as it'd list the same user with the same time stamp twice in a row. Displaying the extraneous information would probably get noisy pretty quickly, and only showing the two sets of users on the Active tab would make a very strange inconsistency in the general site layout.

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  • $\begingroup$ Thanks for the reply! $\endgroup$ – lhf Sep 27 '11 at 18:35
  • $\begingroup$ The problem with recommending that folks use Newest vs. Active questions is that they may develop a habit of ignoring the active list - which has the unfortunate consequence that they will not see later posted answers. This has the effect that later better answers don't get properly exposed, so they don't receive a fair number of upvotes (a big problem here). This problem would be moot if there were no Newest tab - but that would probably cause too much uproar. Any better ideas to solve this problem? $\endgroup$ – Bill Dubuque Sep 27 '11 at 18:40
  • $\begingroup$ @Bill The home page defaults Active sort. If you want to look for new activity like new answers, the front page will always work no matter what your sort option is for the questions list. A common strategy is to keep "newest" as the default for the questions list when you want to look for questions to answer or read, while using the home page as your source of current events. $\endgroup$ – Grace Note Sep 27 '11 at 19:15
  • $\begingroup$ @Grace I suspect many folks use only the Questions list - not the home page (e.g. to avoid font-page noise, eg. ads). Further, they default the questions sort to Newest. Hence said problem of missing later better answers in the active list. $\endgroup$ – Bill Dubuque Sep 27 '11 at 19:30
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    $\begingroup$ @Grace: It's a shame, though, that this feature-request is still status-declined - it would help a lot in this issue. $\endgroup$ – Hendrik Vogt Sep 27 '11 at 19:37
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    $\begingroup$ @Bill: I sympathize with your concern in that later answers are not getting their fair share of attention. However, I don't think that differences on the view with Newest vs. Active would explain this. I think that it mostly comes from the eagerness of many posters to quickly accept an answer that solves their immediate problem. And some won't even look at questions with accepted answers. My preference would be to force a 24-hour waiting period between posting a question and accepting an answer, so that posters in all the time zones get a shot. I guess that's asking too much... $\endgroup$ – Jyrki Lahtonen Sep 28 '11 at 12:50
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    $\begingroup$ Sheesh, if I'm worried about such things, I think that I'm spending too much time here. May be I need to take a break? $\endgroup$ – Jyrki Lahtonen Sep 28 '11 at 12:50
  • $\begingroup$ @Jyr Probably there are many factors that play a role in later answers not getting their fair share of votes. I suspect the two mentioned above both play major roles. $\endgroup$ – Bill Dubuque Sep 28 '11 at 13:38

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