Yeah. I'm irritated.

Stack Overflow always has tons of questions coming in. However, the new questions are displayed in blobs every two minutes. So, even if you refresh your browser like a crazed madman, you still have to wait to see if you are get a question you can answer. And I want to see the questions now...

Is there something I'm missing? Because in this age of ping 10, ultra-precise, live everything, Stack Overflow is dead (metaphorically of course.)

If I'm not missing anything, please at least make Stack Overflow load a little faster.

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    Seems more like a feature to discourage crazed refreshing and less like a bug by the way you word things.... ;-) – bmike Feb 7 '12 at 3:46
  • @bmike Refresh. Refresh. Refresh. Refresh. Refresh. Refresh. Refresh. Refresh. Refresh. Refresh. Refresh. Refresh. Refresh. Yeah, I see what you mean... – Andonuts Feb 7 '12 at 3:51
  • @jonsca not a dupe. I just want the page to be current. He wants it to reload automatically. – Andonuts Feb 7 '12 at 3:52
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    Stack overflow is quite possibly the fastest loading web application on the planet. Whaddya want, coffee and donuts with it too? In other news, this question is so 10 minutes ago. Badger Badger Badger Badger Badger Badger Badger Badger Badger Badger Badger Badger Mushroom Mushroom. – user102937 Feb 7 '12 at 3:52
  • @Andonuts Similar increase in server load, I would imagine. This type of thing has been asked for over and over, I can find at least 3 other examples. – jonsca Feb 7 '12 at 3:55
  • @RobertHarvey That's more "badgers" than Jon Skeet has. – jonsca Feb 7 '12 at 3:55
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    @jonsca: badgerbadgerbadger.com – user102937 Feb 7 '12 at 3:56
  • @RobertHarvey Are the badgers eating each other? Or the Mushrooms? Or are you being chased by a group of maniacal badgers and mushrooms? I'm confused. And I'm tempted to use my 400 remaining characters as line breaks. ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... .... ...................................... ..RUN FOR YOUR LIVES!!!! IT'S A MUSHROOM ON STEROIDS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! – Andonuts Feb 7 '12 at 3:59
  • @RobertHarvey Nice site ;) – Andonuts Feb 7 '12 at 4:00
  • I've used that badger as a quick and dirty GPU/CPU load test. It's powers are limitless. SNAKE! It must be a honey badger... – bmike Feb 7 '12 at 4:25
  • @RobertHarvey Badger Badger... MUSHROOM! – Andonuts Feb 7 '12 at 4:26
  • @bmike Honey Badger's high on shrooms - Honey Badger don't give a ****! – voretaq7 Feb 7 '12 at 4:57
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    Actually it's one minute cache from my own experiments just now but yeah, I can see what you mean. @Geoff - care to explain what is planned? – Shadow The Princess Wizard Feb 7 '12 at 9:14
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    @Arjan it's implemented only on tag pages on Stack Overflow - New Feature: real time updates to questions, answers, and inbox – Sathyajith Bhat Mar 17 '12 at 15:26
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    @Arjan vote counts are now updated as they happen on questions and answers for meta and gaming.se only at the moment. – Geoff Dalgas Mar 17 '12 at 15:27

See the feature description here:

New Feature: real time updates to questions, answers, and inbox

Calling this one . :)


That's almost surely done for performance reasons - everything has to be cached on a site with that much traffic. That's why a question is "posted" into some kind of queue-like structure and the front page only displays it after some delay. That's annoying, yes, but that's likely needed for good overall performance.

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    This is just not true. You just have to expire the cache when a new question is posted. – Thomas Bonini Feb 7 '12 at 9:50
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    With the amount of questions posted that would be a performance penalty. – Aphelion Feb 7 '12 at 11:52
  • @Koper Exactly my point. I agree completely – Andonuts Feb 7 '12 at 16:24
  • @Aphelion You're probably right, unfortunately... – Andonuts Feb 7 '12 at 16:26
  • @sharptooth I'm marking this as correct, for now. – Andonuts Feb 7 '12 at 16:28
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    @Aphelion: no, it would not be. There are almost never more than 10 questions per minute. Even if there were 60 questions per minute, it's still one query -- and not only that, one VERY SIMPLE query -- every second. Probably me posting this very comment uses more resources than invalidating the cache on the homepage every second for 1 minute. – Thomas Bonini Feb 7 '12 at 17:02
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    @Koper - Invalidating the cache requires DB hits though, which (since they are likely stored more-or-less normalized in the DB but pre-built in the cache) is a non-trivial increase in DB load. – cdeszaq Feb 7 '12 at 17:05
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    @cdeszaq: you are wrong on the "non-trivial" bit. Saying that a simple SELECT every 6 seconds is going to substantially increase DB load in a website this trafficked is obviously strange. – Thomas Bonini Feb 7 '12 at 17:26
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    @Koper - If the cache time is currently 1 minute, you get a DB hit every 60 seconds. Raising the DB hit-rate to once every 6 seconds is an order of magnitude increase. No discipline I'm aware of considers an order of magnitude to be trivial. That said, I'm sure the interaction between the cache, the page generation, and the DB is much more complex than a simple SELECT, which gives the change even more impact than an increase in the number of DB queries. Seeing as SO is one of the most trafficked sites in the world, this being a trivial change would be obviously strange. – cdeszaq Feb 7 '12 at 17:39
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    @cdeszaq: you are considering the difference between 1 select every 60 seconds and 1 select every 6 second when you say "order of magnitude increase". You are not considering the other MILLIONS of query. 10 queries vs 1 query is one thing, 1000001 queries vs 1000010 queries is insignificant. – Thomas Bonini Feb 7 '12 at 17:45
  • @cdeszaq @Koper - Koper is correct. It is trivial There are many more comment and answer queries than there are question queries. And it's plaintext for gods sake. Just stop flaming each other. This is MY rant post. Just Flamewar.state(TURN_OFF_HEAT); – Andonuts Feb 7 '12 at 18:50
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    @Koper - Due respect, you have no idea what you're talking about here. Trust me when I say it's a lot more complicated than some extra DB queries. Performance isn't simple, querying the DB for every page doesn't scale, and at some point querying the DB alone to populate that cache doesn't scale either...we're way past that. – Nick Craver Mar 10 '12 at 12:04

I'm really looking forward to see this live, so I have offered a small bounty. I'm looking for official answer which states in what stage this [status-planned] is and what is being planned.

I really thing that such a feature would not hurt performance. As said by other's answer's comments, there are no more than 10 questions per minute (+ few, maximally 10 modifications per minute).

This feature would be great, now with the WebSockets which are being tested here on meta. They would be immediately shown and we'd know about new questions even faster.

I'd propose to invalidate cache for /questions/ page and homepage every time there's a new activity, no matter which (edit/bounty/answer/question/Community bump). It really makes no significant load to the servers I trust.

  • ...You know this feature has been added right? – Mystery Mar 3 '12 at 23:57
  • @Purmou: Which feature? Live updating? It's not. It's still affected by cache, so even if you see "there are new items", they're actually one minute old – Martin. Mar 3 '12 at 23:58
  • Ah, yes, that's fair. – Mystery Mar 4 '12 at 0:03
  • There are a number of performance factors here and cache levels in play, it's not a simple switch to flip, but it's being worked on. – Nick Craver Mar 4 '12 at 0:03
  • @NickCraver: that's good to hear! I'm looking forward for the details when it's done! – Martin. Mar 4 '12 at 0:08
  • @NickCraver: It is live now, isn't it? I suspect it is immediate now – Martin. Mar 5 '12 at 15:37
  • @Martin - no, only the WebSockets portion is immediate, there are still several layers in play that we're moving around in the coming weeks. – Nick Craver Mar 5 '12 at 15:42

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