Making a better “Nearby and Online” list

Making a better “Nearby and Online” list
February 8, 2017 Soda360

A couple of weeks ago one of us went to Mexico and looked at who’s nearby on the app. The app showed a lot of people, but very few were currently online around there (Playa del Carmen) and the next few were from other cities around, then everyone else showing was from Florida. Not so useful. That’s one reality many of our users from sparsely populated areas are experiencing daily, and one that triggered a rethink of our Nearby list (also called Nearby and Online on the website).

Our goal was to make it so that when looking at who’s nearby, you get to see a meaningful first page of results. We’d rather like to see members that were online 6 hours ago but are close to us, than see those that are online but 150 miles away. The reasoning here is that people that have been online a couple of hours ago are still “active” users, so engaging with them will in most cases lead to a fruitful retroaction, perhaps not immediately but in the hours that follow.

If you’re in a more populated area (or, we should say, an area that has a more of our members), the problem doesn’t really exist and we’ll continue to show you those who are currently online. But as there’s less people online at a given time in one area, we’ll automatically include members that have been recently online. What is considered “recently online” is a fluid concept and is determined by how many users visit the site/app regularly in one area, and how many are online right now in that area. The system then includes members that have been away for a couple of hours, or up to a few days (no more than a week). We call this SmartResults.

It’s also possible that SmartResults shows up for you at 5AM and doesn’t at 5PM, since the number of members currently online in your area is factored in and fluctuates throughout the day.

SmartResults is always enabled on the app (in the Nearby tab). On the website, it will be enabled if there’s less than 15 people currently online in a 30km (18mi) radius from your location, and you have the option to switch back to the Online Only list. We’ve also updated the “Last Seen” field on the list of members so that it shows the hours since last online instead of days.

Availability

These changes are available immediately.