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We have just rolled out on meta some small cosmetic changes to the related questions in the right sidebar:

We have added the vote score to hopefully make the list more useful and also break it up visually. We've also added a little bit more margin between the questions.

We are on the fence as to whether this is an improvement or not, so please let us know if you find it helpful.

enter image description here

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    I'm suddenly very aware of the related questions. And also of my tongue in my mouth. Also breathing manually. Aaaaaaaaaaaah
    – Shog9
    Mar 19, 2013 at 17:53
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    That number is verrrry loud. I was actually meaning to suggest we separate duplicates from the rest of the "linked" bits in the Related sidebar though. IMO that's more useful than this
    – Ben Brocka
    Mar 19, 2013 at 18:02
  • linked questions look good as well. Although clicking on "see more linked questions…" brings "Your search returned no matches."
    – gnat
    Mar 19, 2013 at 18:06
  • Ah, one more reason to never look at the sidebar again (as if banner blindness wasn't enough).
    – yannis
    Mar 19, 2013 at 18:36
  • @yannis Do you mean to say that you think the addition of the vote score is worse than not having it ... or are you saying that the related questions is useless altogether?
    – Jeremy T
    Mar 19, 2013 at 18:48
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    The related questions section is awesome, and I can see how the vote score might be useful in very specific scenarios (i.e. hunting for dupes), but it's unnecessarily distracting when casually browsing the site. Don't know if it will bother me once I get used to it, but right now I'm already actively trying to ignore it.
    – yannis
    Mar 19, 2013 at 18:57
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    Perhaps a better way to factor in question score would be to simply make the related algorithm consider the score when sorting the questions instead of showing it (and if it already does, then make it a bit more important). +5 related questions should always appear before 0 scored, for example, even if the 0 scored are "more related" with the current algorithm.
    – yannis
    Mar 19, 2013 at 19:02
  • Is there supposed to be a color difference between questions with accepted answers and those without? I don't see any right now, and I don't have any known colorblind issues, but just wanted to make sure.
    – Troyen
    Mar 19, 2013 at 21:41
  • @Troyen No difference. We did have the green shading for accepted, but it was too much.
    – Jeremy T
    Mar 19, 2013 at 21:45
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    Okay, I'm about convinced this is a solution in search of a problem, so if anybody wants to defend the changes please step up.
    – Jeremy T
    Mar 19, 2013 at 21:48
  • The tooltip is wrong, it shouldn't be "votes" but rather "score" e.g. this one says "6 votes" in the linked tooltip but has actually 12 votes: +9/-3 totalling in net score of 6. Other than that, it's too big IMO as all others said maybe consider reducing the font size? Mar 20, 2013 at 0:03
  • After thinking this over, we've decided to keep the changes with a couple of tweaks: The list is going to be reduced to 10 items, where previously it was up to 25 and we're going to change the tooltip to read "Vote score (upvotes - downvotes). We will also look at working the scores into the sorting algorithm. I think most of the other concerns were aesthetic, and we will consider tweaks there based on further feedback.
    – Jeremy T
    Mar 25, 2013 at 18:40
  • @JeremyTunnell - I like the related links on the side, their presence helps in searching to look for caveats of similar issues. However, the change in text to explain how vote score is calculated is useless. It detracts from the score shown. It would be nice if it could simply have a message indicated if there was an accepted answer on hover. Please see this question: meta.stackexchange.com/questions/172630/…
    – Travis J
    Oct 17, 2013 at 17:36

4 Answers 4

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I have two major concerns about this change:

  • The list of related questions is VERY long.

Seeing a huge column of little numbers in boxes, in addition to the question titles, is very distracting. At the very least, cap the list at 5 or 7 questions.

  • I really don't think it's clear or intuitive what the numbers in the box mean.

I know there's a tooltip, but a lot of people don't use tooltips. I also got very confused by finding a tooltip that said "2 votes, with an accepted answer". First, why is it telling me about a metric that is not visible? Additionally, saying "2 votes" is technically incorrect. The question I clicked had a score of two - there were actually six votes cast (4 up, 2 down). (Note: there are a lot of other places on the network where we use "votes" and "scores" interchangeably. Those can be dealt with separately, but I can't find a compelling reason to continue that inconsistency with new features.)

Conclusion: My initial reaction is that this is not a valuable change.

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    solution for "too long list..." issue could be to present just 3-4 related questions, along with "see more related questions…" link (similar to how it was suggested for linked questions here)
    – gnat
    Mar 19, 2013 at 21:31
  • @Laura I'm with ya. I would assume "scores" in a "Related" section would pertain to relevancy. That's why I look at "Related." Instead, the scores measure perceived quality of question (and not even whether there is a solution). I'm not sure this addition adds any real value. Mar 20, 2013 at 19:53
  • @Laura - I agree that the list shouldn't span the entire height of the page. However, I am curious: did it originally say "with an accepted answer"? Because the new version is a lot more confusing. It says "Vote Score (upvotes - downvotes)" which is, well, completely useless. I am fairly certain that 99% of the stack exchange users understand vote counts and how they are calculated. I wish it indicated if there was an accepted answer because at least that would save the time of clicking, scrolling, and looking manually.
    – Travis J
    Oct 17, 2013 at 17:26
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I love this, but I'd like one thing changed: The ordering.

Can they please be ordered by a combination of relatedness and votes. A perfectly keyword related question with -10 isn't of much use to me. I want the partially related, +10 question first.

Also, for the list being too long? Just filter out questions with large negative vote counts.

And change the vote indication, like @Laura said above.

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While the information is useful, it's way too distracting, I think. There's not enough padding between the answer count and the link text, and there's a bug where the accepted answer class is overridden by the more-specific styling for the .answer-votes elements in the sidebar:

crowded, bugged related links

Dropping or muting the background colour and moving the answer count to the right would be preferable to me, like the following (although admittedly it's not readily apparent that the second answer count has the "accepted answer" colour, so that should be done differently):

   mocked-up changes to related links

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    We looked at putting the numbers on the right, but my main objection to that would be breaking convention from the rest of the site.
    – Jeremy T
    Mar 19, 2013 at 18:08
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    I'm not sure if that'd necessarily be a huge issue, but I could live with them being to the left as long as they were downplayed more than they are currently. The issue of course is that the related links are typically only helpful when the current question isn't, but right now they're immediately stealing focus.
    – Tim Stone
    Mar 19, 2013 at 18:13
  • I'm also now reminded that the answer count box is a different shade of grey than the one used for the user card, gah.
    – Tim Stone
    Mar 19, 2013 at 18:14
  • +1 right alignment pleeaaaaase. Only power users click on Related, or we wouldn't have so many duplicates.
    – user7116
    Mar 19, 2013 at 20:09
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What about including them in the text block, a la:

Related

1 Is It OK to Create a "Topic
Wiki" from several related
questions?

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