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I have just learned that Stack Exchange has changed the frontpage of all sites in the network for not logged in visitors at around midmonth of April, to optimize it to be attractive for people who are randomly visiting the site, via google for example. The list of questions presented is seemingly something like the actual months view, it features highly upvoted questions with the most views, or some kind of a hot list and closed or downvoted posts are left out. The 10 most popular tags are shown to represent what topics are popular on that site, and options such as chat and meta for example have been taken out.

I agree with the mathematicians who say that this might, in particular on smaller sites, not correctly represnt the focus, content and the community running the site as seen by the active users already there. And I agree that this new fronpage might be too static.

Specifically on Physics SE, changing the front page a bit would be appropriate and helpful because

a) The tag is prominently featured at the second position among the 10 most popular tags. This can new or otherwise not logged in users lead to wrongly think that it is a very good idea to come to Physics SE for homework help.

b) The list of questions presented does not correctly represent the topics and level of questions the community is interested in and the site can sustain, it is overly focused on rather popular science and non technical questions.

Other (smaller) communities may be not completely happy with the new frontpage for other reasons and like to edit it to better fit their needs and represent their community. So my feature request question is:

Can the fronpages of the individual sites in the SE network, as presented to anonymous or not logged in users, be made configurable by the local moderators (or even high rep, say 10k users) of the individual sites?

Specifically, I have in mind the possibility to exchange tags in the tag list ( should definitively not appear), and to exchange questions in the list of questions presented.

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1 Answer 1

I have my problems with some aspects of the new anonymous frontpage and have posted feature requests about that already, but I don't think per-site configurability is needed. These issues affect all sites, and solutions should be global. I also like quite a few aspects of the new frontpage, so I don't want to go back entirely.

The issue with the homework tag is just a symptom of a misuse of the tagging system. It is a meta tag, and meta tags cause this kind of problems. That is one reason why most sites got rid of them.

Your second issue is a consequence of voting behaviour that is common across all SE sites. Easier questions tend to get more votes than difficult ones. I think that votes should be somewhat deemphasized on the new frontpage, or at least the questions should be a bit more diverse. But again, this is not something that is specific to a single site.

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At Physics SE, many people (me included) need the homework tag to filter or grey out very basic homework questions, so it has its purpose and currently our site is really flooded by homework and very basic questions. This feature request I am asking about here could help us mitigating this flood of low level question by giving anonymous visitors no longer the wrong impresstion that we are doing mostly popular physics and homework help. The feature request is meant global such that each site can tune its frontpage. –  Dilaton Jun 6 '13 at 14:35
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@Dilaton On the one hand, you're saying that you need these (meta) tags so you can hide the stuff you don't like on the site, rather than fixing the problem — and then you lament that these popular (i.e. low quality) tags are popular making them more prominent and featured on the site. That seems backwards. –  Robert Cartaino Jun 6 '13 at 15:17
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@RobertCartaino we have high quality expert users who say they would leave the site, if they can not filter the low level homework questions out to better be able to find the questions they are interested in. Sure, we can detag the homework questions and delete the tag, but this by itself does not make the bad homework questions go away. It would only have the effect that nobody would be able to filter them out, which annoys and drives experts user away. We already have the situation that popular physics questions and non technical questions get the most votes and attentions, –  Dilaton Jun 6 '13 at 15:29
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whereas technical, higher levl, advanced topics questions get low views, sparse voted, often no answers (they sometimes almost tumbleweed), because the audience that appreciates such questions is not large enough compared to people interested in popular and basic questions. Depriving the experts that we still have of the possibility to efficiently filter out what they are not interested in would make things worse. –  Dilaton Jun 6 '13 at 15:33

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