Near Real-time Discussions (not chat) - Optimizing Features

As I mentioned earlier - we’re seeing a lot of continuous use of our forums with near-realtime conversations taking place (we’re up to over 1,000 messages a day typically now and most of them on the typical peak hour times).

I’m wondering if there are ways to modify the software to make near real-time discussions more fluid and engaging. For example - if you’re in a topic reading and responding - adding some features facilitate these types of discussions - for example automatically telling the people on that topic when someone else might be typing a response, and automatically showing the new posting immediately when the person completes it to all the people currently on the thread (correct me if I’m wrong here - but I don’t think the current forum software does this.

I’m not sure of all the features that make sense - but it really seems like there is an opportunity here to create a new type of discussion software that bridges chat and traditional forum software - for higher volume sites.


AFAIK polling happens every 30 seconds. If someone submits a post in a topic while you are composing a reply, that other post will be appended to the topic while you are composing your reply.

I’m not so sure a type of “another member is currently replying to this topic” message would be a good thing. I most certainly would not want a “your reply will be put into queue and be posted as soon as it’s your turn” to happen.

We have had a few “sessions” that went a lot better than they could have gone. The discussion flow is a bit disjointed similar to chat but IMHO not that bad.

You can see an example here

Not following here,

If I post a reply it will show up immediately with no delay this happens due to the long polling that is in place.

So only feature that is being discussed here is

“N people are typing replies” presence like feature, we discussed this in the past and are not huge fans. Maybe you can search for the old discussion.

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I can see where this might even be detrimental. “Oh, Sam is typing a reply. No need for me to”

True, there may be some redundancy. I have seen a few “Ah, ninja’d by ____” posts. But not all that many.


Will it come into the thread (above the edit window) even though I’m currently typing something?

It depends. If you are scrolled all the way to the bottom of the topic you’ll see it.
At least that’s my experience with desktop. I don’t know about mobile with its limiited view

yes, you can test all this out on

That actually doesn’t really work in real life - since when you’re at the last post and you click reply - the window opens and covers up much of the most recent post. Nobody would actually scroll down while they are composing a post.

So what I"m talking about here is a usability tested form of this feature where its actually usable. Ideally the page would auto-scroll as a new message is posted so that you can automatically see it as it comes in, even if you’re in the middle of composing a message.

In this way - you can adjust your post as need be while you’re still in the window.

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Autoscrolling can be mighty annoying, it interferes with reading. flashing stuff on screen (regardless of reading position) can also be annoying especially on active topics.

We optimise for reading here, so often avoid adding any kind of feature that actively hurts reading.


It works for me in desktop eg.

If a new post is made while I’m typing. I do see a change.
Admittedly, perhaps I do scroll down a bit more than others.

Yeah, plenty of room to see the posts pop in.

I can see that might be the case.

I wonder if there is another way to implement it such that you achieve the benefit without the negatives. Maybe not so much autoscrolling - but push up and then fade in the new post slowly. I"m not a UI expert - but just trying to figure out options to achieve the desired benefit.

I wonder if this is the typical model / use case. I tend to only scroll down so that I can read the full message - so the “reply button” is down near the bottom of my screen. When I hit reply - it covers the bottom part of the message I’m replying to - so I’m assuming any new messages that come in are going to be hidden under the reply box.

Twitter does something nice here where they pop up a little floating non modal box that lets you know new stuff is there. Gmail does it too with a slightly different non modal alert near the composer. That sort of thing might be nice.


Maybe we could try to increase the chances of the user having scrolled down far enough with a bit of simple trickery?

Currently, when the composer pops up, it covers the lower parts of the screen – making it more likely to cover the end of the last post. If we added an auto-scroll that (smoothly) scrolled down half the composers height, this would mean that the composer gets half its screen estate from the top, half from the bottom. To me, this makes sense from a UI perspective (it’s “fair”), and increases the chances of the first new post being visible.

It’s also familiar: At least iOS likes to do this auto-scrolling when the keyboard pops up.


I would probably trust Apple’s UI / UX department over twitters…

Added a “planned” tag here in particular for

For our next release we want to add a general method for “short lived” notifications. Eg, little bubble to inform you of stuff like:

  • Bob just replied to this topic
  • Bill just closed this topic
    (maybe) - Bob just liked your post on this topic.


Key is to have a general mechanism and UI for short lived automatically collapsing notifications.


For a real-time discussion I think new posts have to appear at the top.
So an upside down topic.

If you have an all day chat with over 1000 messages (like the OP) anyone joining has a lot of reading and scrolling to do or hit the bottom button.
Join right in with the ongoing conversation at the top.

Make an upside down topic work and put one one in everyone’s user profile page and call it say a “wall”? :joy: The emoji is joy …I thought it was crying buckets when I chose it …

Facebook messages work fine with an input box at the bottom and the conversation continues to scroll if the person you are speaking with is typing. Even old school chat rooms generally had the input box at the bottom with the messages continuing to float up. Perhaps it just becomes a user option on whether the messages should auto-appear or not.

Perhaps it would detect if you are replying at the very bottom of a topic, or inline to a previous reply. If I am replying inline to someone’s reply, then it wouldn’t scroll. If I’m at the very bottom of the thread, then yes, continue loading new replies as they come in.

This is way better than autoscroll! And works wheter you are replying in the middle or bottom! :thumbsup: