While answering my own question, I took a look at Hot Network Questions section to the right.

I found there:

So... What does it exactly mean, that question is hot? How can one-point-scored question become hot?

EDIT: I found this question, of course. But it deals with technical details of an algorithm of determining, if a question is hot. I'm asking directly, without technical details, how can a one-point scored question be treated as hot? So, I don't think, that my question is a duplicate of mentioned one.

  • 2
    I have noticed this too in the past few days; normal looking questions on the hot list. I know that there are per site weighting functions; perhaps those smaller sites have been heavily weighted. Commented Mar 31, 2014 at 10:33
  • As I said before (without getting into any details): a one-point scored question shouldn't appear on any "hot" list, under any condition -- that's how I'm looking at this. I might be wrong, though.
    – trejder
    Commented Mar 31, 2014 at 10:40
  • 1
    I'm enclined to agree. Although if it had a +500 answer I might make an exception Commented Mar 31, 2014 at 10:42
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    A one-point-scored question can become "hot" when it has an answer that accumulated votes relatively fast. The views are also factored in. Not sure if 176 views in a day is a lot for SciFi though.
    – yannis
    Commented Mar 31, 2014 at 11:15
  • 1
    @Yannis The views were removed at some point for performance reasons, I doubt they put them back in the formula. Commented Mar 31, 2014 at 11:48
  • Is this not a duplicated question? With all the linked and Related questions list at the section to the right.
    – Bolu
    Commented Apr 3, 2014 at 8:07
  • @Bolu I have reedited the question title to better suit, what is actually asked here (see also conclusion in Łukasz 웃 L ツ answer) and why it isn't -- in my opinion -- a duplicate. Does this satisfy you?
    – trejder
    Commented Apr 3, 2014 at 8:21
  • 1
    @trejder, I have no problem with this is not marked as duplications by the community (and I don't have enough rep. to do so). My comments above is more like a question to other users who have viewed your questions and don't think it is a dup. For me, there is nothing new in Łukasz 웃 L ツ answer, but I can only stand for myself. And you don't need to satisfy me :)
    – Bolu
    Commented Apr 3, 2014 at 8:30
  • @Bolu I did a quick check on all the answers I found, to not to produce another duplicate, but found no direct answer on how one-point scored question can become network hot. That's why I asked, but I understand, that this could be treated as duplicate. I didn't mean to offend you in any way, just wanted to answer your doubts! :]
    – trejder
    Commented Apr 3, 2014 at 8:35

3 Answers 3


Well, there were some tweaks:

The core of the formula (without the site-based degrading or traffic scaling) is:

(MIN(AnswerCount, 10) * QScore) / 5 + AnswerScore
         MAX(QAgeInHours + 1, 6) ^ 1.4

as well as traffic adjustment:

We make a per-site traffic adjustment so SO does not dominate the entire list

So, as I said in the comments, the score is multiplied by a factor, that is dependent to the traffic (number of people coming every day) of each network

So yes, theoretically, if that tweak for Science Fiction&Fantasy is high enough, and the question is young, it could be 'hot' based only on AnswerScore.

Please note: that formula could be updated to decrease the weight of QScore and increase the weight of AnswerScore, and that tweak could be undocumented to preved hot questions hacking.


One more answer, from my own point of view.

The term "Hot Question" brings to mind questions like this one, which can safely be labeled the hottest question ever to be posted on Stack Overflow. Intriguing puzzle, astonishing discovery showing excellent research. Well done.

However, we can't expect steady stream of such questions. Stack Exchange sites are like forests, with trees more or less of the same height, with some bushes hiding underneath.

Once in a while, there will be a tree bit taller, maybe sticking out. It's a healthy and steady tree.

Those are the hot network questions. It is rare to find real diamonds even in that list, most of them are cheap gems. Each of those questions is usually better than most of the other questions, but not outstanding by itself.

The simple principle is: if the question got upvotes and got answer(s) which also got upvotes, then most chances are that it's not a bad question. In the very least it's interesting enough to draw those votes so let's take it out of the forest and feature it.

All the above applies to all sites in Stack Exchange network: each site and its own agenda, its own topics, judged by its users base who can vote and answer.

Back to technical matters, the questions in the sidebar are chosen randomly from list of total 100 hot question that can be accessed directly [here][1]. That list is ordered by the "hotness points" calculated using the formula mentioned in this answer and you can see the points for each question as a tooltip:


(The points used to show in the old top bar hot questions tab but not anymore, that tooltip is the only way to see the points value as far as I know) [1]: https://stackexchange.com/questions?tab=hot [2]: https://i.sstatic.net/pWebn.png


Well, there are only a limited number of parameters that Stack Overflow can use:

  • Numbers of votes on the question - it can be (-100) to (101). I would count this as 201 votes.
  • Number of comments
  • Number of likes on the comments
  • Number of answers
  • Number of votes on the answers
  • VIP users - If a user has a high rate of popular answers/questions, it might be wise to make an assumption that his contribution to the question will make it hot.

I think that Stack Overflow use all, or part of those parameters in some secret (or not) method to calculate the hot questions.

From personal experience I can tell you one thing: Most of the time I find it interesting to read the hot questions.

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