Sometimes I get questions on my Stack Overflow front page, and I don't understand why. I mainly use the site in the , tags, with some light activity added recently.

Today, I've got plenty of Android/Java questions on the front page, but also some that I just don't understand. For instance, this one, and this. One is tagged with , the other with . I've never used these tags, so what makes them appear?

I know about the Tag Future Report, but mine doesn't show anything related. I even browsed my profile's tag listing, but it turns out I've never asked or answered a single question for any of the three.

So my question is, why are they there? I don't browse ASP-related tags, and I don't use Dynamics CRM at all, so no action there either. It can't be based on being a "popular" question, because they both have zero votes and low views (at this time).

The questions aren't even topically related to my main tags as far as I can tell. Is there some sort of question scanning algorithm that lumps things together even with differing tags?

  • See blog.stackoverflow.com/2010/11/stack-overflow-homepage-changes for some details. Not sure how up-to-date that still is.
    – Bart
    Sep 27 '13 at 14:21
  • Thanks. I knew this info had to be somewhere, I just couldn't find it on MSO. Exactly what I was looking for, assuming it is up-to-date. I'd be interested if anyone knows of a more recent change.
    – Geobits
    Sep 27 '13 at 14:22
  • Geobits: kevinmontrose.com/2013/05/22/your-future-on-stack-overflow might be more recent (/cc @Bart).
    – Matt
    Sep 27 '13 at 16:24
  • @Matt An interesting read, and it explains more about the Tag Future feature. Like I said, though, none of the tags in question show up there.
    – Geobits
    Sep 27 '13 at 17:31
  • 1
    @Geobits: See this comment; SE throw a few random questions in there.
    – Matt
    Sep 27 '13 at 17:35
  • @Servy Thanks for the find, I couldn't find it searching(the title is pretty vague). The answer is pretty outdated, though, according to the blog post Matt linked. Should I just move my answer over there?
    – Geobits
    Dec 19 '13 at 16:12
  • @GenericHolidayName Meh, the blog is generally the most discoverable answer to the question, unfortunately one cannot close as a duplicate of it. There are lots of meta questions that are essentially duplicates that just link/quote the blog. I just picked a duplicate at random. Note that this is the "interesting" tab, not strictly the homepage, which is likely why you had trouble searching for it.
    – Servy
    Dec 19 '13 at 16:14

I don't like "unanswered" questions in my profile, so I'll sum up some details from the links in comments. Thanks to Bart and Matt for the pointers to them.

It's mostly tags...

From Kevin Montrose's post, you can see a general overview of how they select what tags to show you.

  • Only counts tags used on more than forty questions total
  • Only counts tags on questions you answered, not questions you ask
  • Only counts tags where you have at least three answers
  • Your tag history is mixed in with the site's history
  • Some tags imply others, like [jquery] and [javascript] or [android] and [java]
  • Users can be grouped based on activity
  • Your initial answers weigh heavily in your grouping
  • Ignored tags are ignored, favorite tags are considered

You can see the tags it thinks you'll be interested in on your Tag Future Report. For me it seems like a pretty spot-on representation.

... but not completely

As noted in the replies below the post, a number of random questions are thrown into the mix. This could be seen as a good thing or a bad thing:

  • Not using random ones could narrow a user's scope; they might not learn new things
  • Too many random ones would be a waste of time; users may truly not care about them

Personally, I think the ratio they're using works out pretty well. There aren't so many that I get bothered by it, but I occasionally see something interesting.

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