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I understand that the numbers (circled in red) are calculated based on some sort of complicated algorithm (as described by Jeff Atwood in this post).

My question is why are these displayed in the first place? When I first saw them, I thought they represented the total number of votes the question has received... it took me some digging to discover that they are actually calculated using a complex algorithm based on a number of various factors.

To the average StackOverflow user, isn't displaying these numbers a bit confusing and kind of pointless? It seems like it is something that should be kept internal to the user. Sites such as Google and Flickr don't display numbers that reflect the numeric score/rank associated with search results, so why should StackOverflow?

Maybe we should replace these numbers with the question's site icon instead?

enter image description here

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It's the question's hotness. –  Yannis Jun 20 '12 at 21:26
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@YannisRizos, yes I know. Read the first sentence of my post lol –  Alex Lockwood Jun 20 '12 at 21:27
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How would you know that the hottest question currently is more than twice as hot as the second one? ;P –  Yannis Jun 20 '12 at 21:31
    
@YannisRizos, I'm not sure... the numbers aren't very clear to begin with. Is relative positioning the reason the numbers are included in the first place? –  Alex Lockwood Jun 20 '12 at 21:36
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Well I don't know what the reason is, I can only imagine. Anyway I'd prefer if they were replaced by the site's icon... –  Yannis Jun 20 '12 at 21:37
    
Yeah! I think that would be a lot better too :) –  Alex Lockwood Jun 20 '12 at 21:44
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+1 to using the site icon instead, for two reasons: 1) consistency with the other tabs within drop down (all sites, inbox, notifications) and 2) so you can tell at a glance more easily the context of the question (eg. multiple questions in your screenshot could be from any one of a number of sites, but you have to read the tiny domain name below to know rather than just getting the info from your peripheral vision). –  Alconja Jun 21 '12 at 1:04
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I agree with adding the site icon, but I disagree with removing the hotness number. When something goes 400+ hotness, it should stand out as it currently does. –  Mysticial Jul 1 '12 at 19:40
    
Maybe a °C would make it somewhat clearer that is an "idea" of hotness rather than votes –  Richard Tingle Sep 19 '13 at 20:57

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