Whenever I click on Anyone's profile to check if available(online) or even my profile,it doesn't show correctly. When I click on my profile it should show online, but it just show last seen a random time ago

  • $\begingroup$ See Jeff's answer at meta.stackexchange.com/q/70232 You're probably a ninja or a time traveler. $\endgroup$ – Chair Jan 23 at 16:59
  • $\begingroup$ None of them,I am a new contributor. So this question is a duplicate,should I delete it?I didn't understand the answer,is that a bug? Or a missing feature of showing online? @chair $\endgroup$ – user212727 Jan 23 at 17:09
  • $\begingroup$ I don't think there's any problem since the duplicate is on a different site, and it may be nice to have our own copy around here. So don't delete it yet. We'll see what other people have to say. I've already flagged it and asked a moderator to add a status-by-design tag, to show that this is a known phenomenon and that Stack Exchange developers believe that it's how the system should work. That link contains a (vague IMO) description of why you see that strange time (the time traveler bit was a joke :P) $\endgroup$ – Chair Jan 23 at 17:11

The "last seen..." counter is updated at periodic intervals a few minutes apart, as documented in this answer and this one in the Mother Meta. (Basically, continuously checking every second whether every SE user ever is active would be an excessive load for the Stack Exchange servers.) As such, it is expected to be an imperfect measure.

If you observe large deviations, then this might be more interesting. However, the amount of quantitative detail in the data that you've reported,

it just show last seen a random time ago,

is not enough to say anything other than "yeah, this is just by design".

  • $\begingroup$ But If it will show so much time difference than it will not show a good use $\endgroup$ – user212727 Jan 23 at 17:27
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    $\begingroup$ As I said "so much time difference" is meaningless unless you mention hard, quantitative numbers. $\endgroup$ – Emilio Pisanty Jan 23 at 17:32
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    $\begingroup$ (... and, ultimately, if what you're saying is "the software provided by Stack Exchange is less useful than I wanted", then you should take that up with the Stack Exchange developers at Meta Stack Exchange. We (this site's community) don't have any control over that functionality.) $\endgroup$ – Emilio Pisanty Jan 23 at 17:33
  • $\begingroup$ @TheBroly because users don't want to be stalked $\endgroup$ – Andrew T. Jan 24 at 4:58
  • $\begingroup$ I feel it will be useful to know if someone was online or not when we are waiting for a reply. If the user was not online and we don't know it,we will wait for long time for a reply $\endgroup$ – user212727 Jan 24 at 9:52
  • $\begingroup$ @TheBroly The counter is largely accurate, with deviations in the few-minutes range which are considered acceptable by the design team. Unless you're able to explicitly document higher discrepancies (say, above half an hour), then it's completely pointless to keep banging on about this. $\endgroup$ – Emilio Pisanty Jan 24 at 11:11
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    $\begingroup$ @TheBroly Knowing someone was online 1 minute ago doesn't guarantee that they'll be back soon, and seeing that they've been away for a year doesn't reliably indicate that they'll be back any time. I don't see a convincing/reliable correlation between the time a person was last seen online and the likelihood of getting a reply. $\endgroup$ – Chair Jan 24 at 11:26

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