544

This may sound like a 'first world problem', but I am quite easily distracted by the 'Hot Network Questions' sidebar, as I find them quite amusing and some of them quite intellectual

But where the problem lies is that, even at work, if I google something up and find a solution on Stack Overflow, to some random problem I am working at, I (always) get distracted towards them (Hot Network Questions), and end up reading the whole Qs as well as As of that respective question, and this is adversely affecting my productivity.

Any suggestion would greatly help.

7
  • related: Filtering “hot” questions
    – gnat
    Feb 24, 2014 at 7:42
  • 42
    Totally agree. This is both a complaint and a compliment; I've discovered more through Hot Network Questions in a few days more than I've learned from Wikipedia in years! On the other hand, it's really tolling on the actual work I get done. Feb 26, 2014 at 7:00
  • 51
    BTW, Hot Network Questions ruins rule #8 on the Joel Test Feb 26, 2014 at 7:04
  • 7
    I would like to be able to customise what is shown in the Hot Network Questions list. I want to block specific SE sites because, while some I find enlightening, others that have little value I nonetheless find too tempting to ignore. I guess I either need to build my willpower, or build a script... Feb 23, 2017 at 4:13
  • 1
    I understand wanting to block them when at work, but I don't get all the "they're a blemish on the website" guff. If it weren't for the hot network questions, there's a lot of other SE sites I'd never have joined and a lot of useful answers I'd never have contributed.
    – Pharap
    Aug 25, 2017 at 18:53
  • 1
    I would really like a setting that disables "Hot Network Questions" on all StackExchange sites. Blocking them one by one is tedious, and there are a lot of them that I legitimately end up on by Googling work-related things - StackOverflow, SuperUser, ServerFault, db admins, ubuntu, computer science, Ask Different (apple), Software Engineering, Unix & Linux, Raspberry Pi... Feb 6, 2019 at 16:54

17 Answers 17

134

No further need for self control or userscripts!

As of 11 March 2019 you can hide the HNQ list from the sidebar globally by visiting your preferences page and choosing "Hide Hot Network Questions", which appears in the "Sidebar" section.

Hide Hot Network Question preference on user preferences page

This was rolled out as part of a major update to the HNQ list behavior.

1
  • 4
    Now let us add this behavior for Hot Meta Posts, The Overflow Blog, and Featured on Meta.
    – Noumenon
    Feb 17, 2021 at 15:47
309
+50

Adblock - add the following filter:

stackoverflow.com###hot-network-questions

or, if you need to do work on other SE sites:

###hot-network-questions

Also, if you use uBlock origin, you can simply right-click the element and click "block element" to implement the above.

You can turn it off when you want to read them later :) Also, you need not block any other ads if you want to support SO. I'm off to get my productivity back, good luck!

33
  • 1
    ^ This is exactly what I did, but was reluctant on whether I should share it with others, you know the 'ethical grounds talk' about blocking ads and etc.... Mar 1, 2014 at 6:03
  • 24
    Yeah...you don't have to block the other ads though. I hope if SE requires us to experience the site in it's most ADD-susceptible form though, that we as a community have a discussion about the implications. Honestly I love reading them, I just can't during the day without potentially losing my train of thought.
    – Chris
    Mar 2, 2014 at 6:54
  • 2
    @wardha-Web for those who don't want to block ads, another option is to use a GreaseMonkey/TamperMonkey script.
    – elias
    Mar 6, 2014 at 19:46
  • 12
    Lovely, that Adblock filter suggestion worked a treat for me just now. Thanks, Chris, that's a source of growing irritation squashed! Mar 19, 2014 at 21:40
  • 1
    I find it sad that this is the only true solution, but this make your answer all the more valuable. Thank you very much.
    – M. Toya
    Mar 20, 2014 at 14:37
  • 4
    Thanks dude, this is exactly what I wanted. Welcome back, productivity!!
    – ashes999
    Mar 26, 2014 at 14:59
  • 25
    Thanks. It would be better to be able to switch off Hot Network Questions via your account settings, but this is a pretty good option.
    – Roly
    Apr 20, 2014 at 10:17
  • 1
    That's a wonderful wonderful tip. It never occurred to me that I could use Adblocker like this. I suspect that this will become more and more useful for a massive range of things.
    – Joe
    Apr 23, 2014 at 19:13
  • 4
    Excellent, this worked for me. And I've never even considered installing an ad blocker before now. The Hot Network Questions were just that distracting.
    – arlomedia
    Aug 19, 2014 at 20:02
  • 2
    Well... those wont be missed.
    – twiz
    Sep 10, 2014 at 20:09
  • 10
    I've been using this tip for the last few months. It's wonderful. I now find StackOverflow so much more productive and useful: I can actually go and get stuff done, rather than get lost in another random maze of browsing. When I stray on to a site where I haven't applied it, it's kind of a shock to see this distracting nonsense. I understand why the SE people think this is good for "growing communities" - but it's not great for the individual users. Nov 30, 2014 at 22:11
  • 3
    Can this be extended to also hide "Hot Meta Posts"?
    – becko
    Mar 23, 2016 at 17:39
  • 5
    @becko ###sidebar > .community-bulletin.module
    – Chris
    May 23, 2016 at 19:27
  • 1
    How do you get it to allow ads, but still block the hot network questions?
    – mjs
    Nov 16, 2016 at 12:44
  • 1
    As an ignorant pleb with no knowledge of how Adblock works, "Block an ad on this page" -> <Click hot network questions> did the trick for me (although you have to do it again every time you visit a different stack exchange). Sep 4, 2018 at 15:18
111
+50

I think some of the answers here that suggest "Have some self control!" miss the point.

  • Given: Seeing an interesting question automatically makes some brains trigger "work on that question" (umm, citation - you know if this describes you)
  • Given: Intentionally avoiding looking at that area, or even harder, stopping the "work on that question" process, once started, requires some quantity of mental resources
  • Given: mental resources are limited (for all of us) and very valuable (for many of us)

"Have more self control" is another way of saying "use some of your limited and valuable mental resources to do X".

Soo...why would you argue that StackExchange (StackOverflow is what I am on most often), that great boon to productivity everywhere (see StackOverflow about, which says: "Ask questions, get answers, no distractions") should force this distraction on all its users? If I want to be distracted, I'll go to Buzzfeed (I don't).

I guess the question comes down to: does SE want to prioritize the interests of its users, or prioritize "get more questions answered, even if it means being a parasite of mental resources like Buzzfeed"? It's a free site so I have no standing to argue that SE should prioritize my interests, but it's a question that needs to be answered.

(In closing: please allow users to choose to hide it.)

2
  • 10
    Yeah humans are deeply flawed - we are wired to be distracted. Once you recognise and work with that fact - you will have a better life and be more effective. This is certainly a situation where SE interests are deeply misaligned with users.
    – niico
    May 6, 2017 at 11:41
  • The hot network questions can also be a source of film spoilers.
    – Stevoisiak
    May 1, 2018 at 15:31
42

If you use Chrome but don't want to trust a third-party extension, you can roll your own pretty easily:

  1. manifest.json

    {
        "manifest_version": 2,
        "name": "Stack exchange styles",
        "version": "0.1",
        "content_scripts": [{
            "matches": ["*://meta.stackexchange.com/*", "*://stackoverflow.com/*"],
            "css": ["style.css"]
        }]
    }
    
  2. style.css

    #hot-network-questions { display: none; }
    
  3. Open chrome://extensions/, enable "Developer mode", click on "Load unpacked extension" then select the folder containing the 2 files above.

7
  • 10
    Great if, like me, your employer blocks access to the Chrome Extensions store.
    – rleelr
    Jun 7, 2016 at 11:21
  • 6
    Thanks for this, it has the added bonus of quickly introducing the user to how to set up one's own Chrome Extensions. Jun 7, 2016 at 17:33
  • 1
    Great ! How to do it efficiently for every websites of the stackexchange network ? Aug 8, 2018 at 15:09
  • 3
    @Marine1 For a start, add "*://askubuntu.com/*", "*://*.stackexchange.com/*" to matches.
    – Noumenon
    Aug 8, 2018 at 23:46
  • 6
    Not so great if, now like me, your employer blocks Chrome developer extensions as well...
    – rleelr
    Oct 22, 2018 at 8:37
  • 3
    @rleelr Lol, two years later. Keep us posted, and godspeed. salutes
    – Jake Reece
    Nov 1, 2018 at 19:43
  • Would it be easy to extend this to be active only at certain times of day? Or to be easily switched on and off?
    – Ceph
    Jan 13 at 13:56
33

Check out this Stylish script, https://userstyles.org/styles/146704/undistractify-stackoverflow-enhanced

It hides chat rooms, network questions. Anything distracting.

The advantage of using this over adblock:

This allows for easy toggling.

enter image description here

4
  • 1
    Updated this. The old user scripts are not working anymore.
    – tinker
    Apr 19, 2016 at 3:02
  • 5
    Since January 2017, Stylish has been spying on your internet history. robertheaton.com/2018/07/02/…
    – Tim Iles
    Jul 3, 2018 at 11:47
  • 2
    The Stylus extension could be used as a replacement to the now spyware-enabled Stylish. It is a fork of Stylish and contains the same Undistractify StackOverflow style.
    – André
    Dec 24, 2018 at 8:46
  • Thank you, Hot Network Questions is an abomination and this is probably the easiest solution I've encountered.
    – Roly
    Jan 12, 2019 at 16:05
31

For those who use GreaseMonkey or TamperMonkey, you can easily create a user script:

// ==UserScript==
// @name       Hide Hot Network Questions 
// @namespace  http://CHANGE.TO.YOUR.WEBPAGE
// @version    0.1
// @description  Hide Hot-Network-Questions in StackExchange sites
// @match      *://*.stackexchange.com/*
// @match      *://*.stackoverflow.com/*
// @match      *://*.superuser.com/*
// @match      *://*.serverfault.com/*
// @match      *://*.askubuntu.com/*
// @match      *://*.stackapps.com/*
// @match      *://*.mathoverflow.net/*
// @exclude    *://chat.stackexchange.com/*
// @exclude    *://chat.meta.stackexchange.com/*
// @exclude    *://chat.stackoverflow.com/*
// @copyright  2012+, You
// ==/UserScript==

(function(){
    var bar = document.getElementById('hot-network-questions');
    if (bar) bar.style.display="none";
})();
3
  • 11
    Using Stylish with #hot-network-questions { display: none } might be even more effective. Mar 7, 2014 at 0:16
  • 2
    My productivity is saved!
    – Noumenon
    Mar 30, 2014 at 1:05
  • 2
    @IlmariKaronen That should be an answer Sep 30, 2014 at 8:30
14

One new chrome extension to rule them all. It also hides other annoying sidebars like chat!

Plus point, chrome extension allows for easy toggling.

Simply awesome!

https://chrome.google.com/webstore/detail/sidebaroverflow/lhieihmjhlbhpjkamdjfjldcapnmhddp?hl=en

enter image description here

5
  • Looks kinda promising, is the extension available for other browsers? Apr 7, 2016 at 5:21
  • i don't think so. I didn't do a search though.
    – tinker
    Apr 15, 2016 at 9:32
  • 1
    Update: this doesn't work for superUser. Only for stack overflow. BIG minus point. Now, I'm using Stylish script posted in another answer.
    – tinker
    Apr 19, 2016 at 3:01
  • 1
    One nice thing about this extension is the source is available here: github.com/ShivanKaul/SidebarOverflow Aug 30, 2017 at 19:52
  • This quadrupled my productivity :D No more "oh I know the answer to this one and I bet everyone else is wrong" Oct 13, 2018 at 2:58
12

You can use a user stylesheet on Mozilla browsers (SeaMonkey, Firefox, Camino). It does not require any installed extensions.

Open the userContent.css file (create if necessary) in your profile folder's chrome directory, and paste the following:

@-moz-document domain(stackexchange.com), domain(stackoverflow.com), domain(serverfault.com) {
    #hot-network-questions {
        display: none;
    }
}

You will need to restart the browser for any changes to take effect.

The userContent.css file is tucked away inside the profile folder, which is a bit tough to find.

You can follow the instructions for SeaMonkey or for Firefox on the Mozillazine wiki, or here's the short version:

  • ~/.mozilla/seamonkey/******/chrome/userContent.css (Unix)
  • %APPDATA%\Mozilla\SeaMonkey\Profiles\******\chrome\userContent.css (Windows)
  • ~/Library/Application Support/SeaMonkey/Profiles/******/chrome/userContent.css (OS X)

where '******' is your profile's name plus a random string. You know you are in the correct directory if you see the file userContent-example.css there.

4
  • I can't use Firefox extensions so this solution is ideal, and seems to work fine.
    – nekomatic
    Dec 19, 2016 at 16:48
  • This should be at the top. Apr 4, 2017 at 13:24
  • For me, this required a restart of Firefox, but then worked great! Sep 21, 2017 at 19:32
  • 4
    The chrome directory has to be created as well. In current version (60.0), on Unix, the file has to be in ~/.mozilla/firefox/***.default/chrome/userContent.css May 25, 2018 at 18:01
10

Blocking the Hot Network Questions is one of the features of Stack Overflow Extras (SOX).

After installing, you need to apply some settings. This is the one:

enter image description here

7

I've written a Chrome extension to hide/filter the Hot Network Questions list. It hides all questions by default, or you can specify a whitelist or blacklist of sites and keywords you'd like to see.

You can install it from the Chrome Web Store or check out the code on GitHub.

1
  • reposting from this thread which was closed as a duplicate
    – Jeremy
    Mar 12, 2018 at 14:24
5

AdBlock Plus (for Chrome) offers a simple solution. Just click on the extension's icon, click Block Element and then select the Hot Networks area with the mouse (it will light up when you hover over it). That's it! The job is done.


PS - After you click the box with your mouse pointer, ABP will open a popup window where the blocked elements will be listed -

meta.stackexchange.com###hot-network-questions
meta.stackexchange.com##.module.tex2jax_ignore

Just change the first line to

###hot-network-questions

and that will implement the fix to all SE sites.

2

For Safari, I searched for "CSS" on the Safari Extension page at Apple. I noticed Quickstyle.

After installation of Quickstyle, I followed the instructions like this:enter image description here

And the Hot Network Questions disappeared!

Thank you Ilmari Karonen for the tip.

2

If you don't have access to Chrome extensions and need to use Internet Explorer, (for example in a corporate environment) you can create a user stylesheet (save this as a .css file):

#hot-network-questions {
  display: none;
}

For Internet Explorer, go to Tools > Internet Options > General > Accessibility. Click the check box for "Format documents using my style sheet". Browse to your style sheet and choose it. Then click OK and relaunch the browser to apply the styles.

Style sheets can be installed for other browsers via these instructions: http://webdesign.about.com/od/userstylesheets/a/aa010906.htm

1

For FireFox, there is the UnHot addon which should do just that. unhot logo

Just install it to hide them.

I programmed it

1

Here's a simple solution verified for Safari that

  • does not require any add-ons
  • probably should work cross-browser

When on the site in question

  1. Quickly open console from browser using keyboard Cmd-Option-C (altho you get more window than nec.)

  2. Enter the command $("#hot-network-questions").hide(); ~ thanks to previous answers

    • IF: it’s the first time you are using it

    • ELSE: up-arrow to issue the same command issued previously

Console log history stays intact with Safari restart

1

I have uBlock Origin installed in Firefox but never created any custom filters for it previously.
Inspired by @user1993 I now have the following rules (uBlock icon > Open the dashboard > My filters):

stackoverflow.com###hot-network-questions > ul > li:has(div[title="Programming Puzzles & Code Golf Stack Exchange"])
stackoverflow.com###hot-network-questions > ul > li:has(div[title="Role-playing Games Stack Exchange"])
stackoverflow.com###hot-network-questions > ul > li:has(div[title="Science Fiction & Fantasy Stack Exchange"])
stackoverflow.com###hot-network-questions > ul > li:has(div[title="Movies & TV Stack Exchange"])
stackoverflow.com###hot-network-questions > ul > li:has(div[title="Puzzling Stack Exchange"])
stackoverflow.com###hot-network-questions > ul > li:has(div[title="Arqade"])
stackoverflow.com###hot-network-questions > ul > li:has(div[title="Worldbuilding Stack Exchange"])
1
  • 1
    Just done this myself. It's unfortunate, though understandable, that cosmetic filters such as this can't be made global. But a quick copy-paste and change stackoverflow to stackexchange in one set will cover all other SE sites as well.
    – AakashM
    Oct 17, 2018 at 9:05
1

Anti-distractor for StackExchange is another extension you can use which allows you to hide all of the following:

a checkbox-list of things you can hide from the stack exchange sites

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