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For the first time, my question got buried instantly (8 views, 1 upvote).

At the time I really needed the help (now solved, unfortunately not via SE), the bounty option was two or three days away.

So after going through this post, editing, getting more views, another upvote and even an answer, I still wasn't happy. Not because OP deleted his answer, but because my question got buried repeatedly.

The combination of similarly affected users and the growth of the site itself results in a vicious circle.

On big sites - like Maths and SO - this could elegantly be taken care of by adding another "active" questions pool, to which the active posts would be distributed evenly (depending on time).

I believe that this would benefit both askers and answerers, as the overall hecticness would be reduced.

  • How would this proposed "other active questions pool" be different from the existing active questions page? – murgatroid99 Jan 14 '15 at 23:39
  • @murgatroid99 Only by name. – 355durch113 Jan 14 '15 at 23:39
  • So you're proposing having 2 active questions pages, and with each activity a question would go to exactly one of them? Why exactly 2? Which one should be the front page? – murgatroid99 Jan 14 '15 at 23:43
  • Instead of splitting the questions randomly, wouldn't it be better to do it by topic (say, on Math algebra goes to one list, analysis to another, etc)? At which point... you invented tag views. – user259867 Jan 14 '15 at 23:45
  • @murgatroid99 Doesn't matter, the one that comes first alphabetically, for instance. Because that would halve the speed. – 355durch113 Jan 14 '15 at 23:49
  • @Fundamental I don't know the numbers, but if the number of users with no or less viewing restrictions is higher than the number of "tag viewers" (and I suppose so), than that's why. – 355durch113 Jan 14 '15 at 23:51
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    Umm, not sure what you're trying to say. Why would you want there to be two front pages? What would that achieve? – Doorknob Jan 14 '15 at 23:55
  • @Doorknob Questions get more attention, as they are distributed along with the answerers. @ Fundamental Also you don't depend on your tag being popular. – 355durch113 Jan 14 '15 at 23:59
  • If someone is only looking at one active page, they have a 50% chance of seeing your question. It doesn't seem likely that that would bring more attention to it. – murgatroid99 Jan 15 '15 at 0:00
  • @murgatroid99 That's only true if you assume that questions on the front page receive 100% attention. And that's not the case precisely because the one front page is fast as hell. – 355durch113 Jan 15 '15 at 0:03
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    I didn't say anything about attention. I guess more accurately: there is a 50% probability that the question will not show up in their feed at all, in which case they will definitely not look at it. If this has any chance of working you need to explain why a feed with half of the questions going by half as fast is better than the current system. – murgatroid99 Jan 15 '15 at 0:06
  • @murgatroid99 A question is visible longer to (potentially) more people, as they can switch pools. Also for basic questions (which form the majority), the longer attention of say half the people is more effective, as the chance of double answers is smaller, while there are still enough watching who can answer it. – 355durch113 Jan 15 '15 at 0:25
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    So you're basically saying that the front page should randomly be split into two pages? That would do... absolutely nothing, if I'm understanding this correctly. Why would you want to require people to have two front pages open instead of one? – Doorknob Jan 15 '15 at 0:39
  • @Doorknob Could you at least elaborate a bit (maybe even answer)? Basically, all you do is say "that's wrong". The point is that new questions wouldn't get buried as fast, and that if the audience splits, there will still be enough people who can answer. For example: on one page one question catches the eye of 10 people, while another remains unnoticed, getting buried quickly afterwards. On two pages that unnoticed question has more time to be noticed by say half the people that eventually go away form that question which first catched their eye. – 355durch113 Jan 15 '15 at 3:35
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I don't think you realize the question volume of Stack Overflow. A 2nd active page would do nothing. With approximately 10,000 new questions per day, that comes out to an average of about 7 new questions per minute. Couple that with about 11,000 new "answers" per day (rough estimate based on the new answers, assuming a large number of deletions) and a virtually limitless number of edits that bump posts, a second active page would keep a post on the first active pages for just a few extra minutes.

This is why Stack Overflow's front page is not an "active" page. Instead, it is replaced by the "Interesting" page, which customized for you based on your preferences and habits on the site.

You can find the details in Stack Overflow Homepage Changes

Here’s how it works. Starting with a list of the last 3,000 active questions:

  • drop questions containing any of your ignored tags

  • drop closed questions if you lack the reputation required to vote for reopening

  • drop questions scoring -4 or lower

Next, apply the following score formula to the remaining questions:

your interesting tags              +1,500 per interesting tag, up to +2,000 total

your top 40 scoring tags       maximum of +1,000 per tag (scaled), up to +2,000 total

question score                      +200 × score, up to +1,000 total

total answer score                 -200 × score, up to -1,000 total

number of answers               -200 × answers, up to -1,000 total

number of views                    -15 × views, up to -1,000 total

question last activity date       -1 × (seconds / 15)

Count it all up and take the top 90 by score.

The idea behind it is to present interesting questions to potential answerers, not give the more crap to read.

This is all being replaced with a new "recommended" tab, but that algorithm that populates it is still a work in progress. You can read more about it in Feedback requested: New "recommended" homepage, phase 3 - algorithm tweaks

Question quality plays a major role on Stack Overflow, so it is important to highlight the good questions to help separate them from the garbage. Questions that are not of good quality are quickly buried.

At the same time, the breadth of Stack Overflow's scope also results in a lot of active questions that are not important to me because I have no interest in the particular language, so it is important to also suppress those questions. Why waste valuable screen space on sometimes I don't care about.

and even this is not good enough at times, which is why Stack Exchange is working on a new recommended front page. You can read the details in Feedback requested: New "recommended" homepage, phase 3 - algorithm tweaks

If you have specific concerns about it, you can express concerns about that algoeithm there. Now if the Math is starting to move too quickly, on its Meta site, you can suggest they move to a different version of the front page as well to help highlight good questions that are interesting to you and people who would be able to answer your questions.

  • I guess I shouldn't have brought up SO. Thank you for the insight. – 355durch113 Jan 15 '15 at 16:02
  • @Grantwalzer like i said in the last paragraph, if you think a specific site would benefit from the "interesting" home page, then bring it up on their meta site for discussion. There is probably a point in which the site moves fast enough due to question volume that it might help, especially if they cover a large topic (like Math) – psubsee2003 Jan 15 '15 at 16:04
  • I'll see how bad it gets :) – 355durch113 Jan 15 '15 at 16:09
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This may seem a bit tangential but I think We're working on a new stat to help convey the reach of your posts here has some valuable information worth reading.

I think you may be viewing the Stack Exchange network as a place designed simply to get your questions answered by having them seen on the/a front page and then responded to.

The bigger picture is building a library of answers that can be discovered and taken advantage of without needing to ask a new question. That enables the Q&As here to reach a much bigger audience.

I think good questions will be quickly found by potential answerers searching for them by strings and tags, and so for me focussing on question quality (body, title and tags) is much more important than trying to have it on a/the front page.

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