International users know there are hours to ask StackOverflow question that are better than others, namely during workdays when the US is awake. In these times the responsiveness is much better. I think it would be very helpful to know how many users are currently logged on, which could be served as an estimate to how quickly an answer will be provided (everything else being equal, that is).

To clarify:

  1. If I have an "urgent" question I will probably not wait with it
  2. I understand the "positive feedback loop" problem that may occur, i.e. that people will less and less participate during the less responsive hours, however I believe transparency to the data is more important.
  • This would not be that time. – jjnguy Aug 31 '09 at 4:29
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    I'm like the greatest American ever for international users. I rarely get on at work in anything than a "checking-in" capacity. I regularly see the flood of international posts hit about 12AM CDT. Just...awesome. – Eric Aug 31 '09 at 4:30
  • What are you talking about? There is no off-peak. – random Aug 31 '09 at 5:50
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    @random: How do you define off-peak? I think there is off-peak. (thefreedictionary.com/off-peak) – Roee Adler Aug 31 '09 at 7:53

I'm not sure if there being a certain number of users signed in to the site at a given moment will necessarily translate directly into more views or answers to your question. IMO a better strategy would be to use the average peak time data to seed your question at the best time according to statistics. Maybe we can get Jeff to update these numbers?

  • I think it would be a nice estimate, so that "heavy" users like myself can translate in their mind from number of logged-on users to responsiveness... In no way am I suggesting you can directly infer... (and it's probably fairly easy to implement) – Roee Adler Aug 31 '09 at 7:47

I think the scenario is described is rare. I am mainly online during the non-peek times and it is not often that I don't see question getting answers. Granted you most likely get more answers during peak time, but questions do get answers fairly quickly.

However if you are asking questions regarding a niche product or technology the answers may be slower, but again this is due to the niche. Also most users have predefined tags they watch explicitly so irrelevant of when the question was asked it will be seen by those that can answer.

I don't think showing how many users are online is valuable, and also makes it feel to much like a normal forum.

  • Questions always get answered, I agree, but the responsiveness can be very different in different hours. – Roee Adler Aug 31 '09 at 7:48

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