The 100 questions are selected for the "Hot Network Questions" list displayed in the sidebar of each site. These questions are designed to showcase other sites in the Stack Exchange network.
Those questions should act as ambassadors from that site to the Stack Exchange Network, but due to the way the questions are calculated, bad data points result in poor examples staying on the list for a long time.
A previous request to fix this problem was marked as status-declined due to technical issues, so this question is requesting to change the order of the list without increasing the resources required to implement it.
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.
The Stack Exchange Network Hot Questions are viewed by hundreds of thousands of eyes. Many people's introduction to an SE site is influenced by the hot questions they see attributed to that site.
If the questions that are selected are good ambassadors for that site, the influx of new users is positive. If bad data points get selected, new users will follow the example of the hot question which can overwhelm budding community moderation, having a negative impact.
Bad Data Points
There are two things that can cause problems with the current hot questions list:
- Ordering of "mature" questions in the list is driven by random bits of garbage picked by popular posts instead of answers with solid score.
- Close votes are not taken into account. Note how this contrasts to close votes impact in twitter bot.
The current formula increases 'hotness' as the number of answers increases, even if voting evidence (score) indicates that those answers are of low interest. Bad answers are not an indication of a good question, and should not be used to determine the hotness of a question.
Questions that have close votes are treated as if there are no close votes. Smaller communities with questions asked at times when users with privileges are not around may have questions that would normally be closed getting upvotes before the community can moderate and improve the question. Close votes should be counted against questions in that list.
The previous feature-request was declined because the proposed formula would increase the resources required to make the query, and that was preventing its implementation.
Approach proposed here addresses above concerns by providing only a modification to the calculation and not any change to the database structure and it is limited only to fixed amount of questions, to guarantee that performance impact is under control.
Propose that the same parameters as before be used to select the 100 hottest questions, but the ranking of those 100 questions should be re-ordered with the following conditions:
- Answers with a score lower than
(TopAnswerScore / 10) - 1should be discarded from the hotness calculation
- Close votes on the question should reduce the total hotness of the question by 20% (so a closed question would have a 0 hotness score)
This will prevent questions from sticking to the top of the hot list too long by accumulating bad answers, and allow a couple quick close votes to prevent a bad example question from being broadcast across the network.