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Should we have "Last seen" times?

+6
−2

Tracking when each user last logged in or last was active may be onerous but such information can be helpful in various ways, such as in deciding when to return to a post.

Edit

At least for the time being, the top entry in a user's Activity Table is for me an adequate alternative to a "Last seen" time.

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+3
−0

I think this information is useful. At least I personally would happy to see it available.

I would like to check how long ago user who asked a Q was on site.

Also, last seen doesn't mean real activity. One may stop participation for personal reason (for example, in protest against something) but keep tracking life in a community.

From that perspective it might be useful to mods to get users/members lists who is still active without real activity (so-called read-only mode).

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+2
−2

I would be inclined to argue against keeping track of "last seen" times; and even more so against publicly dispaying it.

From simply a legal perspective, there's the issue of the GDPR's requirement for data minimization. (See for example the GDPR, article 5 paragraphs 1(b), 1(c).) While one could argue that keeping some kind of "seen when" data for some reasonable amount of time serves a legitimate purpose for not-publicly-accessible logs, it seems more dubious that publicly displaying that data serves a legitimate purpose.

From an individual user's perspective, there's the issue that publicly displaying (and yes, to signed-in users only still counts as public when anyone can get an account with no significant barriers to access) the time when a user was last seen on the site constitutes an information leak about the person associated with that user account. Yes, it's a small leak, but it's still something that should be weighed against the benefit. If the benefit of what's being proposed is small, then IMO even a small information leak can be a significant mark against that proposal.

You mention the case of "deciding when to return to a post" as a benefit of displaying a "last seen" time. I don't really see the benefit here; certainly I tend to mainly keep track of what's going on on the front page, and visit posts that I'm interested in; if there's nothing going on, and I'm not particularly interested in the subject, then there's likely little reason for me to visit a post, whether or not the user who posted it has been "seen" (for some definition thereof) since some particular point in time. I fail to see how determining which user posted something, then check their profile, would improve the "decide whether to visit a post" workflow.

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