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I am curious if anyone thinks that maybe having moderators (or multiple moderators) be able to filter out questions from the "Highest Voted Questions" is a good idea. This might be a duplicate or not that important, but one day I clicked it for serverfault. Number 1 is:

"Coolest Server Names"

Sure it is fun, but I feel like maybe that gives the wrong impression of the site.

Might be good for meta too, because you could filter out things like "Official FAQ" and make sure the top questions are things like "Jon Skeet Facts" ;-)

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Hey, the FAQ being the top post used to be my shortcut to finding the blasted thing before it got easier... twice. –  Grace Note May 28 '10 at 13:31

3 Answers 3

I guess that Kyle is imagining a scenario like:

New user has some question, tries Google get a Stack Overflow link, follows it and find several good answers laying out the pros and cons of different approaches. Our hero goes "Cool! I want to be a part of this!". So, he opens an account---and desiring to be a good contributor---searches for the "best" content because that is an exemplar of what he should strive for and finds...

What he finds is stuff that is completely secondary to the real mission of this site. Heck, it's secondary to what brought him to us, but it has been judged "best", right?

This is a very real problem.

However, I am uncomfortable with the proposed solution. Screwing around with the search for political or ideological reasons a bad precedent.

Alternate proposal

Provide a "Best Of" link that goes to either

  1. a standard search, or
  2. the results of a DB query that can't actually be replicated from the search box

which has been crafted to select mostly highly voted technical material.

This page could optionally have a link to a more general "Best Of (Including Fluff)" list if desired.

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That scenario is spot on for what I was thinking. I probably should have spent more time on describing the problem, and left the solution open ended. Thanks dmckee. –  Kyle Brandt May 30 '10 at 16:20

In terms of serving the mission of the site, perhaps the "Highest Voted Questions" including some of the more subjective and less 'answering' question is detrimental. It does provide a poor impression of the site.

However, it is an accurate depiction of the community, which is what forms the site. Filtering out questions that are highly voted from the highest voted questions is betraying two people: the visitors who are not seeing what is actually the highest voted posts, and the users who did get those high voted posts not being properly attributed.

Regardless of whether a person thinks a certain question doesn't mesh with the purpose of the website, it does no one any good to obfuscate the hard numeric data on the grounds of soft subjective data. This is akin to taking the top 10 scorers in a school, but deciding to filter out Alice because she is disruptive in class.

If her academic merit places her in the top 10, then as long as she is a part of the school she has a right to be on that list regardless of her behavior. Likewise, as long as a highly voted question remains on the website, it has every right to be counted in a metric for the highest voted questions.

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Hmm... I do think you have a good point. However, one caveat to this for serverfault is that most of these votes might have come from when a question was on stackoverflow and got moved.... –  Kyle Brandt May 28 '10 at 13:32
    
The more I think about it, since it not the first thing a user would see, I think I might agree with you. –  Kyle Brandt May 28 '10 at 13:40

You can filter questions like these by adding the fun tag to your ignore list (or your interesting list, depending on your point of view).

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nice to know, but I am thinking about people new (or newish) to the site. Maybe it is unlikely that people would even see or get it if they are new. However, if they did get it, and go to it to get an idea of what the best the site has to offer is? –  Kyle Brandt May 28 '10 at 13:29
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+1 And actually, maybe default filtering of fun would be more of what I was thinking about. –  Kyle Brandt May 28 '10 at 13:38
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@Kyle: It's arguable what "the best the site has to offer" means. I wouldn't feel comfortable filtering out some of the highest-voted questions from a list that other people see. If we don't want those questions to appear on the site, then the community needs to vote to close them. –  Bill the Lizard May 28 '10 at 13:40
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I don't have anything against those questions. I guess you are right that "fun" is part of the site and that hiding it could be bad. What I meant to by "best to offer" is "Expert Answers", although as you pointed out, that is just what I meant. –  Kyle Brandt May 28 '10 at 13:47
    
@Kyle: I think most people would agree with that definition. I certainly do. I think allowing people to filter out the fun questions from their own lists is better than doing it for them by default. (This might be partly due to my own bias. I would hate to seem hypocritical for having a hand in filtering out fun questions when I'm just as guilty as anyone of asking them. I'd be okay with it if it were up to a community vote, though.) –  Bill the Lizard May 28 '10 at 13:58

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