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I've seen it happen more times on SuperUser than here, but several times the page has barely finished rendering and then the notice pops up:

enter image description here

Maybe people like this instant notice that the site is "alive", but I find it annoying that I've just loaded the page and the notice is telling me that the information is slightly stale and I must click on the page to get a current version.

I think a slight delay would alleviate this "omg, my new page isn't new anymore!" experience. Maybe 10-15 seconds after page refresh before popping up the new activity banner?

If not a delay, maybe it would be smoother to just insert the new activity into the questions list if it happens in the first few seconds?

Based on Geoff's answer it seems the goal is to get these updates as fast as possible - but I guess I just don't see the purpose in telling people that their freshly loaded page isn't fresh.

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maybe they can adopt a twitter-like interface for that, just maybe –  prusswan Mar 2 '12 at 17:56
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@prusswan: Seriously? Twitter is now being held up as a model for state-of-the-art development techniques? The world is coming to an end... –  Robert Harvey Mar 2 '12 at 19:38
    
@Robert Harvey the point is to have the new posts queued at the top behind some drop down mechanism to minimize the amount of distraction. I'm not advocating a twitter clone and besides, state-of-the-art development may not have much to do with usability –  prusswan Mar 2 '12 at 19:42
    
... why? What's the point of this? Do people really get upset when they see this on a page that they've just refreshed? Or do they just clicky and go about their business? Is this really providing a negative user experience? –  Cody Gray Mar 2 '12 at 20:57
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@CodyGray yes! Not giving a user enough time to skim the page before you inform them "this page is outdated, but you have to click to find out more" is indeed a degraded experience. –  Farray Mar 2 '12 at 21:04
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Adding a delay defeats the purpose of having "instant" notifications on the site when things change. The goal is for it to be as fast as possible. –  Geoff Dalgas Apr 16 '12 at 14:25

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