At smaller sites (up to 50-100 questions a day average) closing a question takes hours or even days.

  • As an example, this SO question has got 5 close votes in 15 minutes, while its twin at Software Engineering (previously known as Programmers) has been struggling to get 3rd vote for over 10 hours. "Twin" here means, same question has been cross-posted at both sites, is equally inappropriate at both (tool recommendation), has comments explaining the issue for readers and is downvoted rather heavily, to -4 / -6.

Given above, suggest to take into account when there is a solid evidence that question may turn out inappropriate for the site and exercise more caution about promoting such questions in the hot list.

Penalize smaller sites questions having 3-4 close votes - say, cut their hotness score by half or drop them off the list completely. This will increase chances for less troublesome questions to enter hot list.

Indiscriminately advertising questions that are on their way to closure, with only 1-2 votes left to go hurts site community morale and dilutes the Stack Exchange brand:

watching the 'hot network questions' leads me to think that several of the recent sites are gigantic broken windows of self-absorbed subjectivity... The questions are whiney, the answers are opinion...

Consider also disappointment and frustration of new users coming to sites to ask questions similar to ones advertised in the hot list only to discover that these are voted down and closed as inappropriate (broken windows effect).


  • Avoid tweeting bad questions

    we won't tweet questions with close votes

  • Reorder questions picked for hot list...

    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)

  • Better criteria for the hot questions list

    Weight Flags/Close Votes Against Questions... 30% of our hot questions over the past month all got closed, which is less than ideal, because we want the attention to go to good polished questions rather than works in progress... If close votes count against the hotness score, then we can vote to close while trying to improve the post, and not worry about it getting a dozen answers in 24 hours as the entire SE network flocks in.

  • 9
    "while its twin at Programmers has been struggling to get 3rd vote for over 10 hours" Not anymore... ;)
    – yannis
    Jul 31, 2014 at 19:20
  • 2
    @Yannis I hate you mods for breaking my nice experiments. :) If seriously, thank you!
    – gnat
    Jul 31, 2014 at 19:22
  • 2
    for a recent example: question with 4 votes down and close at #7 in the hot list, gaining lemming upvotes from all around SE network, fully exploiting The Trouble With Popularity. How does it feel like for community regulars who voted down and close?
    – gnat
    Aug 1, 2014 at 22:10
  • 1
    ...another recent example: 3 votes to close, 2 down, #19 (of 100) in the hot list with "32.619 hotness points". "...watching the 'hot network questions' leads me to think that several of the recent sites are gigantic broken windows of self-absorbed subjectivity" -- sure why would it be different when system works like that
    – gnat
    Aug 1, 2014 at 22:57
  • I like the idea, but the question might be asked: "Since we are talking about smaller sites, why isn't a pro-tem mod closing the question if the community already has 3-4 close votes on it?" In other words, the problem might not be so bad... assuming the pro-tem mods are reasonable judges of the question's worth Aug 5, 2014 at 10:00
  • 12
    @MikePennington this would essentially mean moderators have to carry a 24x7 watch on questions that may suddenly make it into hot list, along with getting enough close votes, this is not how system is expected to work. I am also uncomfortable with the idea of moderators intervening depending not on site community feedback (flags, chat, meta) but on not particularly relevant cross-network feature (hotness formula)
    – gnat
    Aug 5, 2014 at 10:30
  • 1
    There is already moderation. I think community must learn and grow on it's mistakes, what here is suggested is authoritarian approach where few people knows what's best and can shape new community in diligent little SE, will certainly save purity of site, but as a result, even with growing popularity you will not see new people becoming active contributors.
    – nes
    Aug 9, 2014 at 6:20
  • 4
    @nes observations show that hot questions don't really help site community grow, see: Can we track the positive effects of a popular question? It's more like "flash in the pan". Longer term observations at Programmers show pretty similar effect: "Tons and tons of people visited the site... but very few decided to stick around..."
    – gnat
    Aug 9, 2014 at 7:35
  • 3
    ...regarding community growth, it is also worth reminding that hot questions are simply not intended to help in that. Their only purpose officially stated so far is to show entertaining / interesting stuff, nothing else
    – gnat
    Aug 9, 2014 at 12:40
  • Why does it matter if a site is small? Bad questions are bad questions!
    – bjb568
    Aug 26, 2014 at 13:37
  • 5
    @bjb568 per my observations it matters indeed (check the example with "SO-Programmers twin"). I definitely won't mind if larger sites questions are penalized that way, I only don't expect this to make much difference. Think of it, inappropriate SO question at sidebar attracts eyeballs of, say, 100-200 users with close privileges at SO - how long would you expect it to hang in there before getting closed and wiped out?
    – gnat
    Aug 26, 2014 at 13:44
  • 1
    Does related #2 mean this is effectively implemented? 3-4 close votes drops the hotness by 60-80%, far more than the 50% drop requested. Oct 15, 2014 at 8:00
  • 3
    @doppelgreener correct. If the related #2 was implemented (at least in that part), there would be no need for this one. But it's status-declined wholesale and I "extracted" the part I frankly like most into this request
    – gnat
    Oct 15, 2014 at 8:04
  • 1
    related: Avoid sharing bad questions at Facebook - 'It is very "helpful" when a question on its way to closure gets 45 likes and 2 shares (many of whom probably have association bonus to vote up what they like / share)...'
    – gnat
    Nov 27, 2014 at 9:14
  • 3
    it's probably time to start paying more attention to smaller sites issues now that these have been proven worthy even to enabling display ads
    – gnat
    Nov 27, 2016 at 10:28

2 Answers 2


Additional reading for those thinking that advertising of close-worthy "entertaining" questions is harmless: The Trouble With Popularity

we discovered that these posts... truly start to drown out everything else on the site... it's too addictive and too easy, and in the absence of any moderation, the community would do nothing but add and upvote the easy, fun stuff. This is why community moderators have real power; they need that power to intervene, educate, and refocus the community's exuberance on more substantive content...

It is... sad to observe how mindless click-hunting obscures core values of our Q&A system.

One way to achieve what is requested here is to modify a step at which hot questions are shuffled to pick ones to go to sidebar.

At this step, questions with many votes to close could get "lower weight" in shuffling so that these will have less chances to be displayed at sidebar compared to less troublesome questions.

Performance wise, this doesn't look like a heavy load. The only noticeable difference from the way how things work now seems to be the need to additionally query small fixed amount of questions (100) to find out which of these have many votes to close.

Another option is for system to pick more than 100 (110, 120...) "candidates to the list" and then use data on close votes to decide which questions get to "final list" of 100. Performance load wise, this seems to be similar to the option discussed above.

  • 4
    however simple it is, I don't expect this (or any other solution for reported issue) to be implemented in foreseeable future, because its impact on Stack Overflow seems to be negligible. Substantial, direct benefit of proposed feature would likely be achieved only on smaller sites
    – gnat
    Feb 2, 2015 at 22:02
  • 2
    ...additional reading revisited: Recent Trouble With Popularity. "While these questions were open, they were widely advertised on the Hot Network List and gained relatively high scores despite piling on of close votes. All of them are now closed, but due to their high scores they present appealing examples for newer site visitors to try their luck asking similar questions. High scores send a fairly strong signal that those sorts of questions are welcome here..."
    – gnat
    Jan 2, 2016 at 22:02

This would be amazing for the Workplace.

We're frequently getting Hot Network Questions about some preposterous topic that will obviously get closed, but the HNQ drive by upvotes make it spiral out of control. Often times, these questions are sitting at 2-4 CVs when they enter HNQ.

It would go a long way towards mitigating the HNQ problem on sites like the Workplace if there was a penalty for pending close votes on HNQs.


You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .