I’ve never thought of doing it because never heard of anyone implement it.
Though this can be very useful in certain environments where the main website is able to display the number of online mods!
e.g. if some Company or Group (e.g. lineageOS) uses the community forum as a means of providing technical support, a number being displayed on their front page may be helpful for someone looking for urgent support regarding their device.
This also comes with negative impact for the person who is being displayed as online (people sending DM, tagging unnecessarily and misdirecting requests etc. ) hence, Instead of using the profile of the person, number of online users seems like a better idea.
But why Users? users may or may not be helpful as not everyone has the same set of skills and knowledge and that may prove dangerous sometimes.
Hence, This totally depends on the usecase of the community and how do they think they’d benefit out of it.
It is distracting. If I need presence information for a person, I’d use an instant chat solution. I try my best to not distract my site visitors, so they can get on with their day and hopefully leave my site and do something interesting AFK.
vBulletin used to do this (prob still does) with “x users currently online” at the bottom of the homepage. As a user I hated it, esp because my timezone often means that not many people are online. It felt like hanging out in an empty room.
I’m interested in your potential use case @meglio.
Paired with other widgets to show stuff like the latest posts on Discourse it would be a great way to bring life to a WordPress site, and make the two feel like more of a cohesive whole. The existing wp plugin is great, but there are still a lot of gaps between the two.