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I've read about how hot questions are calculated, and it appears to be a constantly changing number, since it deals with time since recent activity. But is this hotness rating ever recorded anywhere for posterity (or data mining)? Can I, (or perhaps someone with more rights than I,) look at a certain question and see when it was hot, in the form of a graph or something? Similarly, is the highest hotness achieved by a question recorded, and can metrics like the "highest hotness ever achieved" be determined?

If this ever-changing number isn't stored anywhere, consider this a feature request!

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3 Answers 3

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I'm not aware of any page where hotness is archived. Hotness is constantly changing, so this would be an expensive record to keep! It also doesn't seem very useful.

However, you can use /questions/greatest-hits (ex. on Game Dev) which is a decent proxy for hotness. It records anonymous feedback and view counts, but it uses its own formula, which is not the same as the hotness formula.

If you're just looking for good questions, though, I'd rate /questions?sort=votes (Another link to Game Dev) as a better indicator of quality. /greatest-hits is more about popularity on the internet at large, while votes are indicators of what Stack Exchange participants think about the questions.

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Greatest Hits sound like the closest thing to what I'm looking for, thanks! –  dlras2 Jan 4 '12 at 14:48
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No, these values are not currently made publicly available through the site, the Stack Exchange data explorer or the data dumps.

I imagine the reason is because hotness is ultimately time-based; as time goes by, the hotness of a question ultimately degrades.

Because of this, how do you determine what point in time a questions "hotness" should be stored?

You'd have to capture it for every change in a parameter that can change hotness. For most of the parameters, this probably wouldn't place that much load on the server to calculate on-the-fly for a single request (aggregated over all the requests that Stack Overflow gets, however, that's a different story).

What could be happening is that all of the components for "hotness" of a post excluding time are calculated beforehand and stored on the post. If this is the case, I'd make a request for that to be included in the dumps and data explorer, and then you can fill in the rest depending on the points in time you are looking at.

Regardless, you have all the components referenced in the "hotness" calculation in the data explorer (and I imagine in the data dumps as well). You could definitely calculate the values if you want, but I imagine it will be somewhat computationally intensive.

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But is this hotness rating ever recorded anywhere for posterity (or data mining)?

No this is not recorded, in fact, we do not store historic view counts, so we could not even re-build the lists at a particular point in the past.

If this ever-changing number isn't stored anywhere, consider this a feature request!

To what end? What problem are we trying to solve?

The ability to reconstruct a "hot" page as it was 3 months ago seems to me to be a solution looking for a problem.

We are constantly looking for better ways to surface interesting questions and answers, however storing historical "hotness" would not serve us well here. We do not care that a question was hot some time 99 months ago cause it was linked on redit - or happened to be really popular.


Also, the only bit of information we do not have a historic log of in the db is page views. We decided that the sheer amount of data this would generate is not worth the gain. Even in a very conservative rate we would be looking at over a million rows per day to store historic page views.

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