I don't know if I am the only one but I've noticed this pattern of behavior that as soon as I answer a question or ask a question. I keep refreshing the page, to see how many views on it. To see how many responses, how many upvotes. Like mad refreshing for 2-3 minutes -- a break of a few minutes and refreshing again. I'll soon develop OCD.

My point is, what if we had real time access To :
1) Number of views.
2) Upvotes.
3) Answers - As they are being typed in real time.

On the current website.

(I personally think this is the best approach to get the most SO users institutionalized in the shortest period of time.)

  • FWIW you're not the only one; a lot of new users have come to Meta complaining that their well-intentioned but poor-quality first posts were downvoted and closed when they didn't respond to requests for clarifications/edits within two minutes. So, there are a lot of people out there who behave like you and expect others to do the same. Also... are you sure you want to put in a feature request to be more like a project that isn't being developed any more? – Pops Aug 23 '10 at 19:13
  • 2
    Cue devinb with a large "When thinking about adding access to information for the user, you have to think about what that information will be used for" answer... – Grace Note Aug 23 '10 at 19:16
  • @Popular: Common the real-time typing on wave is(was) awesome. It had some really cool stuff but they didn't get a few things right, that's a different story though. I think closing genuine questions prematurely is wrong in most 'well-intentioned' peoples books. @grace : I know it can be distracting if you are actually writing an answer(probably shouldn't have it there). Also if you were to actually implement a system like this the costs would skyrocket, not just development but actual running costs. – DMin Aug 23 '10 at 19:38
  • @grace Wave may be dead but they're applying it to Docs and what not, still a great technology. Would be interesting if applied here... – colithium Aug 23 '10 at 20:23
  • Real time typing for answers? Wow, I'll have to begin every new answer with "For a good time, call ... " – Tim Post Aug 24 '10 at 11:53

Frequent Ajax polling or long polling can put a big strain on the servers, and I believe that is the major reason why the SE/SO team decided not to implement such a feature to have posted answers, etc, pushed into the page automatically, like emails do in Gmail.

I agree, that it would be really cool if:

  • New answers are pushed into every visiting page, the moment they are posted.

  • Edited questions and answers, are updated automatically and flash to indicate that they have been modified.

  • The same as above for comments.

  • Upvotes/Downvotes update automatically. I don't think the order of the answers should change however, because that would move the answers around while you're reading them, and that could be annoying.

  • The number of views and the last update time can also be updated automatically, but this is probably not that important.

When posting an answer on one of the Stack Exchange sites, including Stack Overflow, there is already a mechanism in place where if an answer is posted while you're writing yours, you'd get alerted, and if you click on the alert, the new answer(s) will be pushed into the page without a page refresh:

Such a feature shouldn't be difficult to implement on the front end for the points mentioned above, especially since there is already that "new answers alert" in place. What is difficult is finding a way to do it without increasing the load on the servers by many orders of magnitude.

Maybe this feature could be made available to just the OP of the question. I think that alone would already be good, since the OP is supposed to be the one most interested in real-time updates. That could give some indications to the SO/SE team to gauge if it is feasible to switch this feature to all the visitors of the post, or maybe just to registered visitors, or maybe even visitors with more than x rep.

However, I'd don't think real-time typing like Wave is necessary. That would put further strain on the servers, is extremely more difficult to implement, and I don't really like others seeing my answers before I'm happy to commit them! I would end up drafting them in a text editor before posting! :)


+1 for everything but 3), I'd prefer that as

3) Answers after being posted or edited. But no live-typing, that is to invasive IMHO.

  • 1
    It would be nice to see a "someone (not identifying) is currently responding to your question" – inspectorG4dget Nov 21 '12 at 20:51

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