Last seen date updates with no other obvious activity (eg. posts read)

I’ve been trying to get a glimpse into engagement of users by peeking at the admin/users page every now and then. (I may post a larger topic on this sometime soon).

One thing I’ve noticed is that the last_seen_date for a number of users updates occasionally without any other change in activity.

It bumps them to the top of that list, and then I have to kind of mentally filter them out as I’m looking for trends in behavior for people who have engaged recently…

What should I make of this?

Do they just have a tab open somewhere on the home page somewhere?

I guess they are just browsing the latest page and didn’t found anything interesting to jump in.

I have a lot of this in my community (enterprise) and it’s tricky, but normal.

In that case, I feel like a missing metric might be something like last_activity_date or last_post_date which would only update when a post was read…

I may very well be misunderstanding, but doesn’t last_post_date already exist?

That’s the time the user last created a post.

I want to know when the user last read any post on the site.

“Reading is Fundamental.”

And while reading time and number of posts read are reported the time the user last read a post is not reported.

Read a post via email notification or on the site? And how do you tell the difference!

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Don’t the number of posts read or reading time metrics suffer from the same issue? I think they still add value… no?

Posts read in last hour may be interesting, may be doable via data explorer

OK, well regardless of the feature request hidden in here for another timestamp to be updated when a user reads a new post, I’m still curious - what currently triggers last_seen_date to be updated?

As far as I can tell…

Any request that requires user authentication (so pretty much all requests) has the ability to update the last_seen_at value. There are some notes:

  • Message bus polling requests are explicitly excluded.
  • The users last known IP address is updated at the same time.
  • Not updated if the user is suspended
  • Not updated if the user is not “active” (i.e. not activated via email confirmation)
  • Not updated more than once per minute.
  • The actual update occurs via a background thread, so might not be immediate - but quickly done.


I finally installed the data explorer plugin and have been able to start getting better visibility into some of these engagement metrics I was looking for that have more to do with reading activity.