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Polling - how to do it?

Currently, Van2Shout just retrieves a new list of posts every X seconds, but this sounds like a horrible implementation!
When I thought about using techniques like long polling, there's also a lot of resources involved in doing that (saving the ID for every long-poll request, all that stuff...)
Long polling sounds like a solution for huge sites like mega.co.nz, but not like the perfect solution for those small vanilla forums, right? So what's the best way to keep the the shoutbox posts up to date?

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