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I really like the notification system that Stack Overflow has in place. For example, when I am typing in an answer to a question and someone else answers that same question, an orange notification drops down at the top of the screen letting me know that this has happened.

I would like to implement a similar feature in my own site but could use some help understanding how this works. Specifically, it is fascinating to me how the notification can occur without any client side action by the user. I was going to ask the question of how this works on Stack Overflow but realized that the team at Stack Overflow might not like a trend of developers trying to reverse engineer all the features of Stack Overflow on the site. Is this an acceptable question? It's not like I am trying to develop another Question & Answer site.

EDIT: It was difficult to find but I just found a question asking exactly what I am curious about here.

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It's been asked plenty of times on SO. Here's one: stackoverflow.com/questions/250473/… –  random Jan 16 '10 at 14:24
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3 Answers 3

It should be possible - just don't make it directly about SO. So say something like:

I'm implementing a forum and want to notify users if someone else is posting a response at the same time as them - similar to the SO notification

It would be even better if you can post some code that you've tried and hasn't worked for whatever reason. This would make it quite clear that it was a programming question and not just idle curiosity.

Though I'm not going to guarantee that it will work, just that you might have a better chance of keeping the question open on SO.

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Yes, if the primary focus is a programming question (with an example cited that just happens to be Stack Overflow), that's way more appropriate than a "how does Stack Overflow work." –  Robert Cartaino Jan 16 '10 at 15:21
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Is it wrong to ask how a Stack Overflow feature is implemented on Stack Overflow?

No, however you'll want to form your question without mentioning stackoverflow, and then add stackoverflow as an example of the functionality you are after to the end of the post. Try to find other examples as well and show them.

The reason is that if your post starts off mentioning stackoverflow, it may be misinterpreted as a meta-stackoverflow question (ie, about SO, not about programming) and migrated here.

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