If we were to update the list automatically the page would be a total mess on a busy forum as topics would have to move around every time a new post comes in.
You do have a point there.
However, you could still do it in a Facebook-esque style:
When a reply is made to an existing topic (or a status, on FB) is made, do nothing (or alternatively, only update the reply count & "X posted Y minutes ago" snippet)
When a new topic is made, add it to the top of the list
List every topic in order of most recent reply (current behaviour)
@nik This was the board I tested it on. 😆 I'm not sure if @julian can shed some light on this as something isn't right with your experience and I'm not sure what would cause these things to happen. It's not your build of NodeBB, it's not one browser or the other as it happens on both Desktop & Mobile, the only thing left is your internet connection, but I don't know whether xhr-polling or websocket issues would cause it.