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Since one of the purposes of the SE sites is to make the internet better, and in many ways the window to the internet is provided by the various search engines, wouldn't it be an idea to "hide" heavily downvoted questions from the search engines?

This is already done for the front page of the main SE sites (as discussed here), so it would be a natural extension of the community's efforts to keep the quality up.

Also, I am aware that you don't have to actually hide a page from the search engines, you can just ask them to not index the page.

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Not sure how I feel about this, due to the rare case where a downvoted question has a great answer (we even give badges for that). Anecdotally I've never had a downvoted bad question show up when I'm searching for problems, either. –  Ben Brocka Jul 7 '12 at 16:54
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Here's one of those exceptions: stackoverflow.com/questions/3905734/… –  Mysticial Jul 7 '12 at 17:20
    
@BenBrocka You're right that those cases do exist, and my proposal will make it more difficult to unearth them. My personal view is that that is a reasonable price to pay, but I can see how people have different thresholds here. –  Monolo Jul 8 '12 at 10:40
    
@Mysticial Interesting example you found there. However, since this question has been closed as "not constructive", I honestly don't think it is the best example of SO material that should be indexed in Google for the benefit of mankind. Quite the opposite, even, but let's not get into a discussion of specific posts. –  Monolo Jul 8 '12 at 10:52
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I have had closed questions show up in search results, sometimes even at the top. –  Travis J Jan 7 '13 at 9:59

1 Answer 1

Quoting one of the comments above:

Not sure how I feel about this, due to the rare case where a downvoted question has a great answer (we even give badges for that). Anecdotally I've never had a downvoted bad question show up when I'm searching for problems, either.

I think that is a valid concern, so I suggest that the indexing algorithm take into account the aggregate score of the question + answers, weighted in favor of the question. That way a -10 question that has an answer with a score of +30 still gets indexed, whereas a question with -10 and no answers doesn't.

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If a question that isn't a duplicate is asked that receives an answer with a score over 5, the question can generally be fixed to match the answer it received, so I'm in favor of examining the answers, views, etc as well. –  Tim Post Jan 7 '13 at 10:44

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