I understand that notifying the user that there are new answers for the current question is really important, but why doesn't the site provide "live" information also for new messages in inbox (comments, answers etc..) and for reputation change?


The notification bar would become too cluttered, and frequently ignored, if it popped up for every reputation change. The little envelope icon next to your username at the top of the page lights up for such changes, and useful changes on all sites highlights the "StackExchange" drop down link in the upper left, so those alerts are alreay provided, just not as obviously as notification bars.

  • But is it updated live? I didn't notice it, but it seems to me that it is updated only on page refresh. Why isn't it updated in real-time? Feb 15 '11 at 16:46
  • @Andrea - No, it is not, and the notification bar is only live updated when editing, so it's reasonably limited. Having live updates on every page would put an extraordinarily large burden on the server.
    – Pollyanna
    Feb 15 '11 at 17:04
  • I can imagine it :) But are there any measures of this burden? Any experiments in this direction? Quora does it, but I don't know if they have more computational horsepower behind their site. Feb 15 '11 at 17:38

I would guess it is lower in the order of importance and possibly more expensive to keep a live update of.


Getting answers to your questions is the primary use case for Stack Overflow, so getting notified of new answers is given the highest precedence. Comments and reputation are nice features of the site, but they're really only secondary to getting answers.

  • I win, Hi Bill :) Feb 15 '11 at 16:08
  • 1
    Hey @Ólafur. Good to see you back around. :) Feb 15 '11 at 16:09
  • Bored in class. Perhaps I should pay attention.... perhaps. Feb 15 '11 at 16:10

If you are interested in getting notification about your rep change have a look to Stack Apps notification tag; there are plenty of fancy app[s] developed for this specific purpose.

The cool thing of these apps[s] is that you can get rep change notification even without browsing Stack Overflow.


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