If you go to the vanilla http://programmers.stackexchange.com URL, you get the standard tabs:

  • active
  • featured
  • hot
  • week
  • month

However, if you go to https://softwareengineering.stackexchange.com/questions, you get the tabs:

  • newest
  • featured
  • frequent
  • votes
  • active
  • unanswered

There are no other interface cues to alert you that one is different than the other - only the missing sort tabs.

Why? And more importantly, should there be a difference?

2 Answers 2


The main URL, http://programmers.stackexchange.com, contains a list of Top Questions, so you're shown tabs that are relevant to Top Questions.

Top Questions is a high-level category, of which Active, Featured, Hot, Week and Month are all subcategories. Newest, Featured, Frequent, Votes, Active and Unanswered are all high-level categories of All Questions, and don't make sense on the Top Questions page.

  • Should there be a difference? The two pages act the same, essentially. The only difference (apart from the issue raised in the OP) that I could really detect is the "Top Questions" text to the left of the tabs, the question count at the top of the sidebar, and the list of tags in the sidebar. At the very least, there should be a visual cue as to why your favorite sorting method disappeared. Commented Jul 11, 2014 at 17:07

There is a cue, though its a rather subtle one: questions is underlined.

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Each top level tab (Main (default), Questions, Tags, Users, Badges, Unanswered) has a different set of sub tabs.

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And so on.

It just happens that the Main and Questions tab both have similar views into the system, but they are separate and distinct tabs. The Unanswered tab also has a view into the questions, though that tends to be something that is intentionally clicked as it is further away from the site logo.

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One thing to note in the different views is the emphasis given by the tab name:

  • Main -> Top Questions
  • Questions -> All Questions
  • Unanswered -> Unanswered Questions

And thus, the sub tabs for each of these is applicable to that tab title.

Could something be done? Maybe. The simplest approach (IMHO) would be to have a 'Top' tab along with Questions, Tabs, Users, that is equivalent to the site's main page. Thus, when you hit the Main page you would have Top highlighted.

  • The subtle difference is what gets me. If you're going to highlight the different top level tabs, why not highlight the /*Programmers*/ main logo? Or create a new tab called "Main," and highlight that? Your comment actually highlights the inconsistency, and points out that the main cue is actually pretty subtle, and hard to detect. Commented Jul 17, 2014 at 18:29
  • 1
    @user2785724 Eventually you get used to it... and don't even start me on the two different unanswereds and their counts (top tab 1025, questions - unanswered 1064).
    – user40980
    Commented Jul 17, 2014 at 19:41

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