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When a question gets into the "hot questions" list, it obviously starts getting many more views as many people are just browsing "hot questions" and viewing questions there. This results in a snowball effect that questions already in the list are getting many views just because of being in the list, and subsequently more up-votes compared to other questions, which keeps them in the list etc.

Is this issue somehow handled in the formula that determines what questions are included in the list? For example, does it differentiate between views coming from a link in the list and views from other pages?

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The "snowball effect" is only bad if it happens to a poor-quality question. (which it does quite often, but not as common as before since I think people are starting to hold back their upvotes in such cases...) –  Mysticial Apr 30 '13 at 15:32
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Related: How does Stack Overflow calculate the number of views in a question? and an answer by Jeff about viewing one's own questions –  Pops Apr 30 '13 at 15:33
    
@Mysticial while snowball effect in views is really quite harmless, a similar effect in answers does quite a lot of damage per my observations. "My particular concern is the poisonous effect these mis-answers have on questions, making interesting and well presented problems look the same as non-constructive popularity contests..." –  gnat Apr 30 '13 at 15:45

1 Answer 1

To directly answer your question:

Is this issue somehow handled in the formula that determines what questions are included in the list?

Yes, there is a time-decay factor.

The formula for the hotness score is given in this answer. (Note that it's quite out-of-date, and I'm aware of several tweaks to it since.)

Notice that the age-decay factor is polynomial with order 1.5. Since this is non-linear, it inherently prevents any question from sticking to the top of the "hot questions" list (aka the "multicollider") forever.

(They can still stay there for a long time. Just not forever.)

For example, does it differentiate between views coming from a link in the list and views from other pages?

No, there is no distinction between where the views come from.

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