TL;DR When votes of 20... 30... 100 users clearly indicate that only one or two answers are popular, it does not make sense to pretend that other answers are popular too.
In current version of “network hot” questions formula (
AnswerCount * Qscore) *, all answers up to 10 are assumed to equally contribute to question "hotness score", including even those downvoted into oblivion.
Suggest discarding answers when there is a strong evidence that these do not provide good data points for question popularity, such as answers with score less than 1/10... 1/20... 1/100 * * * of top voted one.
Note that hotness formula "specification" * assumes exclusion of the answers that are not considered "good data points". An example of this is a justification for discarding accepted answers:
Note that accepted answers weight not at all in hotness. This is intentional, as I feel accepted answers are a fine social contract, but not a good data point for question or answer quality.
As far as I can tell, indiscriminate inclusion of low score answers in questions having lots of views and votes also goes against another underlying assumption in formula "specification":
one assumes... there will be a lot more voting on the answer
Suggest to discard answers having score * less than
- This way, answers at -2 or less are ignored when question has answers with non-negative score. When some answer reaches score 10 (qualifies for Nice Answer badge), formula would start discarding answers with negative score. When there is an answer at +20, formula would ignore those having less than +2, when there is an answer at +100, it would ignore those scoring less than +9, and so on...
Negative impact of counting low quality answers is closely related to popularity of MultiCollider* and Hot Questions sidebar* which use hotness score to arrange list of "hot questions"* displayed to Stack Exchange users.
When SE users visit the questions from the top of sidebar (previously from collider), some of them choose to add their answers to it. Since this audience involves hundreds users, amount of answers brought intro question could quickly increase by 5, 10, 20...
By indiscriminately counting these answers into hotness score (even when voting evidence suggests opposite), formula pushes impacted questions closer to the top of sidebar, which in turn brings more visitors, who in turn add their answers, which in turn push the question even higher at the sidebar and so on, and so on, over and over again, creating a positive feedback loop * of uncontrolled artificial increase of the hotness score.
This uncontrolled hotness growth in turn blocks a time decay mechanism "embedded" in the formula (
MAX(QAgeInHours + 1, 6) ^ 1.4), which in its turn also contributes to positive feedback loop mentioned above.
A popular question quickly acquiring 9/10 "noisy", low interest answers, can stand on the top of sidebar for hours, even when the number of really popular answers remains the same, nor there is a substantial increase in the number of views (several hundreds views from sidebar do not come close to thousands views that come when question becomes fairly popular from outside of Stack Exchange).
Discarding answers proven to be "insufficiently hot" would allow for more efficient functioning of time decay component of the formula.
The last but not the least, contribution of under-scored posts into "question hotness" (which in turn blocks intended time decay) forces questions with multiple low quality answers stick for a long time at the top of the sidebar, making wrong impression on what kind posts are welcome at Stack Exchange.
This makes it look like good questions are those having many meh answers, the effect that is amplified by these questions being highly visible to sidebar audience - hundreds and thousands of SE users. Misguided users spread acquired attitude further into other questions and answers, posting stuff that follows what they saw at the "cool" ("hot") questions.
As far as I can tell, this jeopardizes the very idea * of making an Internet a better place.
Please stop counting proven low score answers in hotness formula. Please roll the dice fairly, let user voting and time decay contribute to hotness score as intended. Please promote to sidebar audience less brain-damaging content to learn from.
Update. Functionally limited, but performance-friendly alternatives of this feature request: