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I'm not sure why have LastActivityDate and LastEditDate... do they not represent the same thing by definition?

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possible duplicate of Anatomy of a data dump – Jon Seigel Nov 9 '10 at 23:22
@Jon I wouldn't call this a duplicate, considering that post only tells you what's in the data dump. It doesn't actually explain what LastActivityDate or LastEditDate are (it just gives simple timestamps). – Grace Note Nov 10 '10 at 13:09
@Grace: Then that question should be updated. I'm going to edit that question into a FAQ question tonight. – Jon Seigel Nov 10 '10 at 17:47
up vote 5 down vote accepted

The last activity of a question includes not only changes to the question itself, but the addition of new answers as well as the editing of answers. You'll note the last activity timestamp, for any question which has had activity, to be posted on the right hand sidebar. This timestamp may also include the stealth bumping done by the Community User, which is otherwise untraceable.

However, I don't know if deletions/closures are counted under LastActivityDate, as they aren't tracked on the righthand side bar.

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Grace Note, could you please explain what "stealth bumping" is? – Mohamad Dec 12 '10 at 13:20
@Mel The Community User is responsible for bumping questions that have no upvoted answers after a long period of time. It does this without actual record of the activity in the question's history (hence stealth), but it is what you notice if you ever see a question on the front page that was last modified by Community. See also: this FAQ. – Grace Note Dec 12 '10 at 13:32
Thanks for the helpful answer. A more technical one: one does "bumping" actually do? Change something in the score or how "hot" a question is to give it more visibility? – Mohamad Dec 15 '10 at 14:27
@Mel The "Active" question sort, and the corresponding option in the front page of sites besides Stack Overflow, sort by the most recent activity such as edits or getting new answers. Bumping, via said activity or by the Community user's silent bumping, will bring a question onto the top of these sorts. It only affects those sorts - it does not alter score or hotness. That said, high activity does figure into hotness, but that is unrelated to it getting bumped. – Grace Note Dec 15 '10 at 14:52
  • LastEditDate: the last time the post was edited
  • LastActivityDate: the last time one of the following events happened
    • The question or any of its answers were edited
    • A new answer was posted
    • A bounty for the question was started
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