Catija's words from Updating the Hot Network Questions List - now with a bit more network and a little less "hotness"!

I recommend each site have a meta discussion with guidance for moderators about when - if ever - a question should be removed.

So the question is as per the title. Now that our moderators have this facility, are there any cases where it should be used here?


I agree with Your Uncle Bob's points that controversial questions are not such an issue on this site (at least nowhere near the level they might be on, say, one of the religion sites) and that quality control is going to be the main reason for manually removing a question from HNQs.

Of course the formula - stated in approximate form here...

(MIN(AnswerCount, 10) * QScore) / 5 + AnswerScore
         MAX(QAgeInHours + 1, 6) ^ 1.4

...is supposed to take account of quality, in that it looks at how many answers a question has, what the question score is, and so on. So perhaps the only questions that should have to be dealt with manually would be ones where those metrics are obviously misleading in some way - for example, if someone has written a question that's unclear, and the 'answers' are in fact more like extended comments pointing out the issues with the question.

If it seems that a question has been well-received by the core community (e.g. picked up genuine upvotes before it goes 'hot'), I wouldn't imagine that there are many circumstances where it should be taken off the HNQ list manually.

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    One of the quality problems I've noticed is questions that get into the HNQ with a title like "what symbol is this?" or "how do I play this?". Having such non-descriptive titles in the HNQ isn't much use to anyone. Of course we could just edit and improve the titles instead of removing the questions from the HNQ :-) – Your Uncle Bob Aug 3 '19 at 23:01
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    @YourUncleBob, yes, I do sometimes try to edit titles when a question has got into HNQ - "If the title seems click-baity or doesn't adequately describe the question, edit it!" is also the advice on meta.stackexchange.com/questions/325060/… – topo Reinstate Monica Aug 3 '19 at 23:12

It seems to me that there is a very low threshold for questions to get into the HNQ. I've seen questions that were not well received and eventually closed get into the HNQ.

As much as we need the exposure (this site is surprisingly small for a subject as popular and universal as music-making) I'm not sure getting low-quality questions into the HNQ is good advertising. So instead of using the removal powers to avoid controversial subjects making it into the HNQ (which is not really an issue on this site), I suggest using them for quality control.

Do the mods have any say in what gets into the HNQ, or is it an automated process at SE level? I understand mods can now remove questions from it, but can they nominate questions?

  • I don't believe mods yet have any direct way to influence what goes on to the HNQ, but one of the things that's new is their ability to remove them. – topo Reinstate Monica Aug 3 '19 at 18:04
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    We have been able to remove them for some time, and use it as an alternative to just the basic "protect" function. It has been invaluable, as we get a lot of visits via HNQ that cause problems - the algorithm used to choose HNQ is not very useful for music questions – Doktor Mayhem Mod Aug 3 '19 at 18:47
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    @DoktorMayhem can you expand on what you mean by visits via HNQ that cause problems? – topo Reinstate Monica Aug 3 '19 at 18:52
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    @topomorto mainly: the upvotes loop cycle. The HNQ formula emphasizes the posts score, and HNQ visitors mostly have 101-rep from Association Bonus rep, which allows them to upvote (15 rep) but fell short for downvote (125 rep). – Andrew T. Aug 6 '19 at 5:56
  • @AndrewT. What problem would you say that causes though? Distorting the vote counts compared with non-hot questions? – topo Reinstate Monica Aug 6 '19 at 6:43
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    @topomorto I just hit the daily rep cap of 200 points by posting two simple answers to basic questions that got into the HNQ. It's almost impossible to get that level of attention or rep on this site with an answer that doesn't make the HNQ, no matter how much effort you put into it. As much as I enjoy getting invisible internet points, it does feel a bit... unfair. – Your Uncle Bob Aug 7 '19 at 18:16
  • @YourUncleBob oh sure, the highest answer to an HNQ is always upvoted disproportionately - it's one of the things that as I said here makes voting ultimately quite meaningless as any kind of measure of answer quality. Even so, most of those upvotes represent someone who appreciated and perhaps learned something from your answer - and HNQs attract users to look at other questions on the site too, so it's not a zero-sum thing. – topo Reinstate Monica Aug 7 '19 at 19:05
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    @topo - unfortunately a large majority of folks who upvote due to HNQ do not understand the topic, local site rules etc. So there is a major detrimental effect on quality - upvotes do not mean the post is any good at all. – Doktor Mayhem Mod Aug 10 '19 at 0:53
  • @DoktorMayhem If a question is clearly outside local site rules, then obviously it will usually be closed and not on HNQs - but I agree that there might be some borderline cases, such as the one I mentioned in my answer, where a question isn't ready for the big time and going 'hot' won't help it. – topo Reinstate Monica Aug 10 '19 at 6:43
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    "a large majority of folks who upvote due to HNQ do not understand the topic" - are you concerned about upvotes on questions, or answers? I don't really see how upvotes on questions harm the site, as long as they are on-topic questions; When it comes to answers, I agree that there's a tenuous relationship between number of votes and answer quality (often earlier answers get an unfair advantage), but I've not noticed that being significantly more pronounced due to a question going HNQ. Maybe that is just me not noticing! Are there many examples of ex-HNQs with bad, highly-upvoted answers? – topo Reinstate Monica Aug 10 '19 at 6:50
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    We have had some here, yes. And many more examples on other smaller sites. – Doktor Mayhem Mod Aug 10 '19 at 15:00
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    @topomorto Excessive upvotes for questions could be problematic if the question gives the wrong impression to new users about what sort of Q&A we're looking for. If a question is borderline off-topic, broad, vague, lacking information, badly formatted, ... then a lot of upvotes may suggest that this is a high-quality question. We're quite lenient on this site, but there's a difference between being prepared to answer an iffy question, and promoting it as an example. – Your Uncle Bob Aug 10 '19 at 15:41
  • @YourUncleBob I'm totally in agreement on the iffy questions - the ones where the community has raised concerns about the question being acceptable, and it's clear we're being nice and leaving the question open (although where a question is just badly-formatted, I'd prefer a quick edit to removal from HNQs). – topo Reinstate Monica Aug 10 '19 at 17:17
  • @DoktorMayhem I guess I'm struggling to think of many examples recently where a question has gone hot and an obviously, objectively wrong answer has gained a lot of votes. There might always be aspects of some answers that people might personally disagree with, but I don't think we would want a question to be removed from HNQs for that reason. – topo Reinstate Monica Aug 10 '19 at 17:48

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