Since the last change to the user profile content, the most recent possible value for the "last seen" field is "this week". But there are still user public actions available to be seen by everyone.

I'm suggesting to use that value instead of "this week" when activity date is more recent than one week. This will save the user's time and save on server load if someone wants to determine when, precisely, a user was last seen on the site.

  • Re: "save the user's time and save on server load"– would it really? Would this be worth the dev time to make happen? I'm not quick to assume this would be a trivial change to make, and it doesn't seem like it would add much over the information we already have now. If the popular use cases for this feature are more or less covered by the new granularity, why should more time be spent on it?
    – zcoop98
    Commented Nov 3, 2021 at 15:55

2 Answers 2


when activity date is more recent than one week.

I agree with this as long as the above condition is met.


  • I was last logged on three weeks ago:
    • Last seen more than a week ago
      (no change)
  • My newest activity is a comment from three days ago; I'm now logged on:
    • Last active three days ago
  • My newest activity is a comment from ten days ago; I'm now logged on:
    • Last seen this week
      (no change; the new max accuracy of the reintroduced system)

Accuracy of the reintroduced system:

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enter image description here

Those are how they look now as of 3 Nov 2021.

RE comments: the reintroduction of the feature clearly omitted the accuracy of the older system that was too intrusive, and is currently showing a maximum accuracy of 1 week; here's mine as of writing this:

enter image description here

So the feature request here and my reply is about fine tuning this accuracy if and only if a public activity is sooner than said accuracy.

  • That last one could be Last seen: last week
    – Vega
    Commented Nov 3, 2021 at 14:44
  • 2
    Aaron's comment highlights they were looking for a way to re-introduce the feature "cheaply" (meaning the least amount of hours of dev time). So this would be put on the backlog in the best case scenario, since it would require they revisit this thing and invest more dev hours in writing the conditions<strike>and testing them</strike>.
    – TylerH
    Commented Nov 3, 2021 at 15:00
  • This would need a rewording, because in case of "comment three days ago, logged on now", last seen three days ago is factually incorrect, as you are last seen now. The new wording "this week" does not have that issue, as it means "anything between now and 7 days ago". Something like either "last seen X" or "last public action Y" depending on whether X or Y is more recent, or maybe always show both.
    – Marijn
    Commented Nov 3, 2021 at 15:07
  • @Marijn I think the "logged in now" part is just included in the 2nd bullet by mistake/as a vestigial phrase from planning out the 3rd bullet point; the point of including it may be to highlight that the "last seen" feature doesn't change based on whether you are currently logged in... it changes based on your last public activity.
    – TylerH
    Commented Nov 3, 2021 at 15:08
  • @TylerH it matters though, the phrase "last seen" means "logged in", if your last activity was also the last time that you logged in then "last seen three days ago" is accurately phrased, if however you have logged in more recently but you didn't perform public actions then "last seen three days ago" is incorrect.
    – Marijn
    Commented Nov 3, 2021 at 15:16
  • 1
    @Marijn No, last seen doesn't mean "logged in". It means "interacted with the site". That's how the system feature is designed, since before the profile changes too.
    – TylerH
    Commented Nov 3, 2021 at 15:31
  • @TylerH I don't mean the act of logging in, I mean the state of being logged in (assuming that the user is registered).
    – Marijn
    Commented Nov 3, 2021 at 15:33
  • But maybe indeed I could have phrased more carefully: if you are visiting the site now but you didn't perform public actions then 'last seen three days ago' is incorrect.
    – Marijn
    Commented Nov 3, 2021 at 15:39
  • @Marijn Yes, I meant the same thing: being logged in and on the site right now is not what the metric ever meant. It has always indicated the last time you interacted with the site (web 2.0, not 1.0).
    – TylerH
    Commented Nov 3, 2021 at 15:53
  • @TylerH I can't find a precise/official definition for the metric right now, but looking at other (old and new) Meta posts it seems that just looking at questions (and not interacting like voting etc) is already sufficient to trigger last seen, similar to "consecutive days" for the participation badges. If you have a link that proves me wrong them I am happy to admit my mistake of course :)
    – Marijn
    Commented Nov 3, 2021 at 16:34
  • @Marijn That's right, but "looking at questions" is quite different from "being logged in". I'm logged in essentially permanently even if I don't visit the site at all for a period of time. Commented Nov 3, 2021 at 17:09
  • 1
    @EmilJeřábek ok, it's only a terminological confusion then, by 'being logged in' I meant actually browsing the site, not just having a cookie that is not expired in your browser without any active tabs. I think that ymb1 meant the same by the way. However, in that case my original point still stands: last seen X days ago based on public actions is factually incorrect if you have visited the site more recently without performing a public action.
    – Marijn
    Commented Nov 3, 2021 at 17:33

I don't think this would really be worthwhile to implement, especially since it's not adding new information that's not already accessible in the profile.

We got the field back, in a granularity that presumably makes privacy-conscious folks (more) comfortable.

The down-to-the-second value is still available via the API for anyone so inclined, making it accessible to power users and userscripts (eg. LegacyProfiles) for those who miss the feature.

The down-to-the-day granularity is also still fully accessible on the account list on public network profiles:

Accounts list on my network profile

As mentioned by @TylerH, @AaronShekey (the lead designer for Stacks) implied in a comment that development cost was a significant factor in choosing the current implementation over others, and offered that what we now have was the cheapest solution they came up with while still keeping the feature around at all.

This request would add further development cost to a feature that, at the end of the day, seems to address the current, popular use cases just fine. I don't think we need this.

  • Are there userscripts that bring back the normal last seen value? Commented Nov 3, 2021 at 16:08
  • 3
    @EkadhSingh Yes, LegacyProfiles, put together by user Spectric, is the one I'm most familiar with.
    – zcoop98
    Commented Nov 3, 2021 at 16:10

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