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Is there a way to identify whether users are online or not?

Like in instant messengers. If the user has been active during the last 5 minutes (or so...), a green dot will be shown next to his user name.

It'd be helpful in order to let you know if you can expect a reply from that someone in the near future.

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marked as duplicate by random Jul 31 '11 at 17:52

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3 Answers 3

The "seen" field in your user profile already does this.

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I know, that's why i wrote "next to the user name", so you don't have to open the profile first. VBulletin does it that way, too, for example. –  DanMan Jul 31 '11 at 16:12
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@DanMan: Next to my user name on every page I've posted on? That would be misleading. I haven't visited all 2000 SO posts I've made in the last 5 minutes. The indicator is global for a reason. –  Bill the Lizard Jul 31 '11 at 16:14
    
It would be an indicator, if you've been online on the whole website in the last 5 minutes. Doesn't mean you've looked at the page at hand. –  DanMan Jul 31 '11 at 16:19
    
@Bill it could be used to determine whether or not you will look at @lerts, for example. If you are online, even if not on that page, there is a greater chance that you will see a message in your inbox. –  Soumya Jul 31 '11 at 16:41
    
@Bill, It doesn't do it well, as has been noticed in a few questions. –  Lance Roberts Jul 31 '11 at 17:08
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I don't like this idea - why do you need an indicator of whether or not someone is online?

I don't think its right to have any expectation of a reply from any one person or another at your convenience, so i'm not sure why you would need an indicator of whether or not someone is online?

It also drags us down the 'social network' road - the next logical step from this is instant messaging, right?

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Because if I know that the person on whose comment I've commented is still on the site, I may want to stick around for 5 more minutes. –  DanMan Jul 31 '11 at 17:25
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@DanMan You shouldn't be asking a specific person for help. The point is to ask the whole site. –  meagar Aug 2 '11 at 5:16
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Stack Overflow is an asynchronous form of communication by design. Discussions for which you would want to know when you can expect an answer belong in the chat, and such an indicator is already present there.

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The chat is global and thus not related to the respective question. –  DanMan Jul 31 '11 at 17:27
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