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It would appear that the account's "Last activity time" is not updated for every hit. I've been active on SO all morning, and in the last five minutes have voted on some posts as well as posted an answer. However, my account profile says:

"Last activity: 2 hours ago from <IP address>"

Is there a certain amount of time that needs to elapse between hits before the activity time is updated again?

This issue could result in Enthusiast badges not being awarded when they should.

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Perhaps this is related to my question - meta.stackexchange.com/questions/21897/… –  ChrisF Oct 25 '09 at 18:38
    
It is cached, only updates ~15 min. –  Brad Gilbert Oct 25 '09 at 19:58
    
@Brad: something else is going on. Now my user profile says "Last activity: 4 hours ago" -- that's a heck of an old cache. –  Ether Oct 25 '09 at 20:40
    
I've rolled back the tags on this post as Jeff's response does not seem to match the behaviour I have observed. A few hours of continuous activity should be enough to overcome the 30 minute cache time. –  Ether Oct 27 '09 at 17:28

3 Answers 3

up vote 5 down vote accepted

You're looking at the wrong field in your user profile. There are two dates there. Note that only one of those dates is shown to public viewers of your user profile page.

Seen: equivalent to LastAccessDate. Activity threshold 30 minutes. Shown to all users.

Last Activity: equivalent to LastLoginDate. Activity threshold 8 hours. Also correlated with IP address. Shown to user and moderators only.

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2  
What do you mean by "activity threshold"? Clearly it doesn't refer to the amount of stuff that needs to occur before it counts as activity. –  Rob Kennedy Dec 28 '09 at 21:19
    
meaning, one write to the database indicating status in that time period. Any page can trigger it, but the database is touched at most once in that time interval. –  Jeff Atwood Dec 28 '09 at 21:45
    
So, it sounds more like a maximum update frequency. –  Rob Kennedy Dec 28 '09 at 21:57
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Which of these is relevant to the Enthusiast and Fanatic badges? –  Justin Morgan Apr 11 '11 at 13:44

Another case I've noticed is that on a question it said "Asked 18 mins ago" but in their profile it says "Last seen 22 minutes ago"

Quite the skill to ask a question without been seen :)

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It is documented in another answer as well.

<add key="Security.LastAccessDateThresholdMins" value="30" />
<add key="Security.LastLoginDateThresholdHours" value="8" />

This is just how things work on the web. You're only "there" as a user when you request a page. Spend an hour reading something, we don't know if you're there or not.

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Yes, but I had been requesting several pages in that time (as well as performing activities that require being logged in, such as voting and posting), not sitting fallow on one page. –  Ether Oct 27 '09 at 17:24

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