Wednesday, August 05, 2009

Another New Feature

I seem to be in a mood this week of working on features I actually dislike. First the blacklist, and now a "who's online now" list.

Have a pressing need to know if someone is on Atlas Quest right now?! If I've said it once, I've said it a hundred times: There is no such thing. You see lists like that on other websites, I know, which is probably why so many people want to see it on Atlas Quest, but unless someone is in the chat room and their browsers are pinging Atlas Quest every single second (well, every other second--I slowed down the pinging to help alleviate the load on the AQ servers), I can't really know who is actively on the site. Actually, even the chat rooms are imperfect. I know I've been in them in one window while surfing a completely unrelated website in another window. Not to mention that the list in the chat rooms could be two seconds out of date even with the faster Internet connections. (It could be even more out of date with slower connections.)

People who aren't in chat rooms--it's even harder to tell if they're on Atlas Quest or not. I can only track the last time their browser hits the AQ server. If five minutes go by without any additional hits, what's that mean? Maybe they're reading a long post or solving a challenging cryptogram? Or maybe they've moved on and are checking their stock portfolios on another website. Or maybe they shut down their computer and are watching television.

The point is--there's no master list that's actually accurate of who's online now. Never has been, and never will be. So keep that in mind. And given the fact that some people might not want others to know when their online, they can hide that information if they so choose. I'm notorious for turning off those annoying status icons on my Yahoo account. Mostly because people seem to expect an immediate reply if they think I'm online, and I rarely do that. I reply when I'm good and ready to reply. ;o)

For me, the list serves two very useful purposes. One, I can monitor how much activity Atlas Quest is getting and how close it's getting to capacity. And two, as an admin, there's a link available to me that allows me to force a member to logout. Until now, I didn't actually have an easy way to do that--a feature that would have been useful during the rare attacks by spammers. For the rest of you, it doesn't actually serve much purpose except give you another thrill by 'spying' on others.

Anyhow, to view a list of members who have recently been on Atlas Quest, check out the Online Members page. It only includes people who have logged into Atlas Quest--unless they've logged in, there's no way for me to know who it was. The "age" column does not represent a person's age--that's how long it's been (in minutes) since the last time the person has shown any activity on Atlas Quest. Someone who's age is 10 minutes means they haven't registered a hit or clicked on anything in Atlas Quest for 10 minutes. Maybe they're solving a cryptogram. Maybe they left the website. Maybe they took a bathroom break. We may never know. =)

If you click the "logout" button and actually log OUT of Atlas Quest, you will be dropped from the list immediately. Technically, you could still be surfing the website anonymously--but for the purposes of this list, it only shows logged in members rather than every single person surfing the site.

If you'd rather not have your presence known, you can opt out of the list from your privacy preferences.


Liz Henderson (Hendel D'bu) said... would seem like the list should be who isn't logged into to AQ! lol!

Why do I need this, again? lol!

Bobguyman said...

Now when are you going to announce the 'moo!' button? ;)

Thanks for the great new feature =)


Liz Henderson (Hendel D'bu) said...

Hey, I just saw the moo button on one of my posts...I think you of all people would want the moo button. :-)

Anonymous said...

How do we access this neat feature from "My Page"?


Anonymous said...

I'm wondering why you would create this feature if you don't like it? It is your website after all...

Marissa Dupont said...

Yes, please explain the "moo" button! :)

jamilo said...

Anonymous at 6:21, you asked why Ryan would add the feature if he himself doesn't like it.

I think I may know the answer, please correct me if I'm wrong, Ryan said this feature helps him when he needs to log someone off himself. And, also, he often adds things that people ask for, even if he doesn't agree with the feature. I like this about Ryan and think that others do too.

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