I have deep issues with the 'Hot Network Questions' containing questions from the religion sub-sites. This is not because I dislike questions about religion, nor because I think these sites have no place on the network in theory - they do. The reason I am annoyed by these Q&A's is that the quality of highly upvoted questions is often extremely low, and questions that are out of scope (since they are about reality) are not deleted.

Obligatory examples: All answers have been upvoted and are popular, I did not rotten-cherry pick:

  1. Q How to cure black magic and evil eye?

  2. Q Were the Nephilim in Genesis 6 aliens?

  3. Q Can I believe in evolution and still be a Christian?

  4. Q Does sorcery/black magic exist today?

  5. Q What evidence exists for post-Biblical miracles?

  6. Q What does the Bible have to say about dinosaurs?

I imagine questions, and answers such as these would be deleted on any other StackExchange site. Would I not be told 'reality' was not in scope if I asked a question on scifi.stackexchange.com like "I hurt my head running into a brick wall on King's Cross station, what did I do wrong?".

The level of answers at the sub-sites specifically for religion is very low, especially the answers that turn up in the 'Hot Network Questions' list. I propose removal of these sites from the network, as they do not fit the quality standards for SE. Alternatively, I would like to filter out these sites from the 'Hot Network Questions' list.

Addendum There is a related question under Filter "Hot Network Questions" by excluding sites, a denied feature request for personalizing a filter for hot network questions. While that would have solved my issue, the fact that it wasn't implemented means my issue is unsolved, and my wish for a resolution to jarring questions on the Hot Network Question list remains (and in this case it's not just the low-quality floating up as usual, but actually especially jarring for the non-'experts' of religion.SE).

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    I don't think any quality issues are caused by the religiousness of the site topic. Some of the crappiest answers reside on Stack Overflow. They get upvoted. Heavily. – John Dvorak Sep 3 '14 at 18:29
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    "I propose removal of these sites from the network, as they do not fit the quality standards for SE." - It is not really your job to request removal of sites you're not interrested in. I don't believe in any kind of religion, but you know what, I don't run around those sites so much either. Likewise am I absolutely unable to judge if those questions/answers you listed actualy are low-quality at all. Neither is it your job to hide them from anyone's eyes. If you don't like those sites, then well, don't visit them and don't click those Hot Questions. – Christian Rau Sep 3 '14 at 18:42
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    @ChristianRau A user can request any SE site to be removed from the network; there's nothing wrong with making such a request. Whether it'd be acted upon is another matter. – user259867 Sep 3 '14 at 18:44
  • @Thursday Ok, that may be, but the argumentation presented in this question doesn't seem to reasonable to me. That aside, I'd propose removing StackOverflow, since 99% of the questions there are plain crap. ;-) – Christian Rau Sep 3 '14 at 18:58
  • The questions on StackOverflow are on topic, sourced and referenced appropriately, or voted down / deleted. A question about reality would not be allowed on SO for not being in scope, and even removed on scifi.SE. They are allowed on <religion>.SE and upvoted. This is a flaw. – Spork Sep 3 '14 at 19:01
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    I disagree with it being called a duplicate of a denied feature request about 'taste'. This is an objection to quality. Mad Scientist's answer is better than calling this a duplicate (namely: don't sweep it under the rug if it's bad). I will delete the suggestion of filtering out as a solution if so desired. – Spork Sep 3 '14 at 20:19
  • @Spork meta.stackexchange.com/a/194495/165773 – gnat Sep 3 '14 at 20:22
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    @gnat thanks. Incorporated as your post suggested. – Spork Sep 3 '14 at 20:33
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    The solution proposed in the duplicate question - a custom user script - solves this question as well, and further answers the question by declining to add a feature that blocks certain sites from the list. As far as I can tell this is a duplicate - there's a solution there for those that need it, and the request you ask for is denied. – Pollyanna Sep 3 '14 at 22:24
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    The fact that you call out all religion sites generically and not by name, suggests that it is religion you want filtered from your hot questions list, not simply poor quality sites. There are certainly some religious sites that are generally higher quality than some non religion sites. Intolerance and bigotry aren't good foundations for a feature request. – Pollyanna Sep 3 '14 at 22:28
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    Au contraire, the only reason I used the generic term is to not be called a bigot. My question examples were generic and sourced from several sites. It's very unfair to call me a bigot for not calling out specifically the names of the sites I present an issue for: my sources are clearly linked to Christianity, Judaism and Islam. I did not take any from Hinduism, and I don't even know of any others! – Spork Sep 3 '14 at 22:42
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    And again, you show that you are targeting religious sites only. I don't see you complaining about any other sites of lower quality, and there are many. You are clearly targeting religion, and not quality. You shouldn't be claiming you are only concerned about quality when it's obvious that this is not actually your main concern. – Pollyanna Sep 3 '14 at 22:53
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    Adam, I would definitely target Sci Fi if a question such as the one I described ended up in the hot topic list. When arqade has 'Are there dinosaurs?' I don't blink, it's not about reality. There are no other sites I target because no other sites are jarring to me. This is a compliment to SE not a detriment to my question here. I am not a bigot to religion - I am pointing out a specific set of questions that are jarring to me, I have read through and found interesting many Q&As on the religious sub-sites, not all questions suffer, just a larger percentage. – Spork Sep 3 '14 at 22:58
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    Only found this today, but related: meta.stackexchange.com/questions/171551/…. – Spork Sep 4 '14 at 10:16
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    @ShadowWizard It might satisfy the request, but the conversation around this request is/should be different than the one it was closed as a dupe of. Excluding sites from entering the list at all because of perceived low quality is very different from "let me hide stuff I personally don't find interesting". – Laura Jan 8 '15 at 15:02

Looking away is not a solution to quality problems. If the content is as terrible as you say, the sites should be either fixed or removed entirely. The hot questions list is a tiny source of traffic overall, most of the traffic comes from search engines. Removing sites from the hot questions list only hides the problem from SE users, it doesn't fix it.

That said, I don't entirely agree with your assessment of the site quality. My impression is that there is a huge difference between the religious sites. There are some sites that allow rather crappy content, but others are trying to keep the whole thing pretty tight. I don't think we can judge all the religious sites equally.

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    To me the questions like 'Do giants exist today?' on <religion>.SE attract my attention much like an SO question like 'Does the curly brace belong on the next line?'. The latter would get deleted. The former is perfectly fine and receives upvotes. Is that not a quality flaw? – Spork Sep 3 '14 at 19:04
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    There are certain posts that I would strongly object, e.g. creationism questions answered by creationists pretending to be scientific. The religion site I'm most familiar with, Christianity.SE, evades the problem by only allowing questions about doctrines. Questions about Science are simply off-topic, that is enough for me. My personal opinion is that all religion sites need similar rules to be viable. – Mad Scientist Sep 3 '14 at 19:08
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    there's a set of some upvoted and answered questions here: christianity.stackexchange.com/questions/tagged/science. Many could be added to my original post. – Spork Sep 3 '14 at 19:17
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    "Some commentators (such as the Institute for Creation Research) have suggested that Leviathan (otherwise a Hapax Legomenon) in Job 41 is a dinosaur" received 9 upvotes. christianity.stackexchange.com/questions/9918/…. – Spork Sep 3 '14 at 19:20
  • @Spork Most of them are either closed or asked from a doctrinal point of view. The others can be flagged and closed. It's not perfect, but also not the end of the world – Mad Scientist Sep 3 '14 at 19:20
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    if you are willing to define the Christian term 'Most' as <25%, your statement about the 'science' tag would be correct. – Spork Sep 3 '14 at 19:21
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    @Spork but you'd be ok with questions about giants that come from RPG or SciFi or Arqade? "Not interesting" may be equal to "religion" for you, but that's far from global. – Monica Cellio Jan 7 '15 at 21:34
  • @MonicaCellio You are seeing what you want to see. The fact is there is a huge difference between 'are there still giants in Middle earth the game as described in the Silmarilion' in Arqade.SE or 'are there still giants on Earth as described in the bible' in Christianity.SE. That has nothing to do with 'interesting'. – Spork Jan 8 '15 at 10:18
  • So the rest of us are seeing what we want to see, but you are seeing "the truth" and that's not just you seeing what you want to see? Ok then -- bye. – Monica Cellio Jan 8 '15 at 15:01
  • Those statements are not exclusive and don't complement to the whole of truth. But by all means, feel free to leave. – Spork Jan 8 '15 at 17:38

If you have a problem with the quality of questions on the sites, consider participating in them and helping the community define the quality. If you aren't willing to participate in the community affected,you can hardly tell them what they should consider valid and invalid, and you certainly can't deny them promotion on and access to the hot network questions list.

If you can show that the sites are bad, and that they harm the network due to their quality, then you should instead be asking that they be closed. Consider reading the area51 FAQs and the relevant posts on here if you want to form an argument that the sites don't belong on the network. I suspect you'll have a hard time proving your case, but that's really the only way to remove them from the network recommendations engine.

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  • Instead one could argue that if I suffer from creationism I should battle creationism, and not a SE site about it. I think that's a silly argument to make. I would not have a problem with people discussing 5000 BC dinosaurs if it were not on the hot network questions list. You are arguing that I should move a mountain to solve a problem with a few heaps of dirt (and telling me I will be unsuccessful in moving that mountain in the same post. How rude.) – Spork Sep 3 '14 at 22:35
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    @Spork as far as I can tell, your problem can be expressed as follows, "I disagree with the topic discussions of certain valid Stack Exchange websites. Because I disagree with those topics, I would like it if these topics were blocked for everyone." You are essentially trying to convince us that your personal biases are universally objective, valid measures of quality, then saying that the network shouldn't tolerate topics that don't meet your definition of quality. Unfortunately your arguments aren't convincing to me, and apparently to others. – Pollyanna Sep 3 '14 at 22:46
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    Your current request will certainly fail. I believe I've suggested the only possible course of action, then indicated what I thought its chances of success were. I'm sorry if you find my answer more rude than helpful, but I'm trying to help you understand the network a little better. I'm no one of consequence here, though, so please do take my observations with a grain of salt. – Pollyanna Sep 3 '14 at 22:50
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    That is an unfair interpretation, seemingly biased towards your personal opinion - not mine. I pose that bad content is voted upon disproportionately positively on these specific SE sites. This naturally leads to them ending up on the Hot Topics. Since this disproportionally happens more often for those sites, I request those sites be removed from that list. (bad content analogy: if I run into the wall on 'King's Cross station, I can't find 9 3/4. What am I doing wrong?' posted on SciFi) – Spork Sep 3 '14 at 22:53
  • I do not mind, of course, receiving the suggestion that the answer to the other question does in fact solve my problem as you have pointed out. I'll grease up that monkey then. – Spork Sep 3 '14 at 22:53
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    "consider participating in them and helping" -- what makes you think this will solve the issue? I ask because I tried that at two sites and it just doesn't work (see eg penalize hot questions having 3-4 close votes). Hot questions simply reward bikeshedding too much and ignore site community too much, only site like Stack Overflow can handle this (more or less, remember "croissants" question?). At smaller sites I haven't seen that active participation helps – gnat Sep 4 '14 at 7:34
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    @Spork some say, hot questions dilute the 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, and the voting ... oh the voting. I try to resist the 'reality TV' temptation to click on hot questions on these sites, but every so often I fail..." – gnat Sep 4 '14 at 7:36
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    @Spork I would argue what you describe is not necessarily a problem with those sites, but with the Hot Network Questions feature in general. Really, bad questions ending up in the Hot list and staying there for exactly the same reason that they're magically "hot"? That is not exactly news, and this happens on many sites, and I guess (even if not know) most probably also on ones you would not deem overall low-quality (or at least not only on religuous sites). That aside I for myself cannot really see a general prevalence of religuous sites in the Hot Network Questions. – Christian Rau Sep 4 '14 at 7:41
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    "Because I disagree with those topics, I would like it if these topics were blocked for everyone." - And exactly that's the point. A personal filter for the Hot Network Questions? Sure, everybody's free to only see stuff he finds interesting. But filtering those sites for everyone just makes no sense when the quality arguments are as subjective as presented here. – Christian Rau Sep 4 '14 at 7:47

Sorry to say that, but you have the following three options:

  1. Ignore the sites you consider bad (you can surely hide the post from the Hot panel by some simple script).
  2. Start participating there and improve them (it would be really nice and in long term appreciated work).
  3. Get to know the sites, become a reputable SE member and then try to convince other people that the sites should be removed (good luck with that). Note that forcing the questions to be hidden to all users is not listed here.

With the option 2, I speak of a personal experience; I thought that a couple of sites is bad, tried to participate, rage-quitted, observed the sites for a while, tried to rejoin with the idea to improve them, realized that they are not as bad as I thought, but still tried to improve the attitude there and other things.

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