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I have had a look at the twitter feed of Math.SE. Looking at the recent post, I only see questions with bounty.

According to this answer, the bot chooses which questions should be tweeted according to some kind of hotness score. The answer does not specifically mention bounties.

I would like to ask:

  • Is the hotness score used for twitter accounts on other (non-trilogy) sites too?
  • Do the bounties somehow contribute to the hotness score used in the choice of tweeted questions? Or are all questions with bounties tweeted?
  • What else contributes to the hotness score?
  • Are the hotness score used for twitter account and hotness score used for the network hot questions list two different things, or are they the same?

I am really surprised that several questions posted on this site in the last 24 hours were hot enough to get to network-wide hot questions list, but that still does not make them hot enough to appear in the twitter feed. This makes me a bit suspicious of the hotness algorithm described in the answer I linked above. EDIT: To include a specific example, both this question and this question are currently on the network hot questions list, but neither of them was tweeted.

Or maybe it is possible that this algorithm works well for sites with large traffic, but it should be a bit modified to work well on smaller sites too. When I look at ServerFault Twitter stream and SuperUser twitter stream, I see questions without bounty too. And there is plenty of them - quite in a contrast to Math.SE.

EDIT: When I look at TeX.SE twitter stream, I also see many questions without bounties.

I wondered whether it would be possible that Math.SE is special because questions with MathJax are not allowed in the hot question list. But since such appear in the twitter account, the presence of the MathJax in the title probably does not influence the hotness score.


EDIT 2: I was told the following information in chat:

  • The bot tweets once every 3 hours, so it has 8 tweets per day.
  • Bounties have the highest priority, all questions with bounties are tweeted.
  • If there are many bounties, the twitter bot builds a backlog of bountied posts waiting for their turn. While this backlog exists, no other category can be tweeted.

This would explain the behavior I described above. (There are probably more than 8 bounties on Math.SE per day on average.)

However, according the user who told me this: "It's all just my observations of what the bot does. I don't know if its algorithm is documented." So I will wait whether can be confirmed by somebody. But if these observations are correct, they would certainly answer at least my main question (the question in the title).


EDIT 3: To add to the previous observations, several non bounty questions have been tweeted recently on StackMath. I have mentioned as examples two questions which were on the network-wide hot question list at the time of writing this question. In the meantime one of them was tweeted (about 12 days after it was posted). The other one was not tweeted (at least not yet).

  • You can post your edit as an answer by the way.... – nicael Jan 9 '16 at 17:09
  • @nicael I do not think it should be good idea since I do not know whether the information I added there is correct. They are just observations, I guess just SE team or SE developers can confirm whether the algorithm really works in this way. – Martin Jan 9 '16 at 17:12
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    Normal's normally correct. – nicael Jan 9 '16 at 17:13
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The hotness score is the thing which pushes the questions to the Hot Network Questions list, that's unrelated to bounties. Basing on this score, i.e. when a question enters the HNQ list, the twitter bots are configured to tweet. The other thing which makes the twitters bot tweet is a bounty (in this case the tweets are prepended with "bounty offered:"), but only if the question wasn't hot previously.

Why Maths does have significally more bounty questions tweeted? Because 1) traffic 2) there're more questions which don't qualify as the hot questions and additionally 3) more bounties

The twitter bots are apparently configurable per-site. The Maths bot doesn't seem to tweet hot questions at all. But that's what most of the bots actually do.

  • I have edited my question a bit. Most important change is that I added the question whether the same hotness score is used for HNQ and twitter. If I understood your answer correctly, you say that these two scores are the same, right? – Martin Jan 9 '16 at 16:02
  • @Martin Twitter doesn't have a hotness score really, but once a question becomes hot in the terms of "Hot Network Questions", it's tweeted. – nicael Jan 9 '16 at 16:03
  • If that's the case, then is rather strange that both this question and this question are on the network hot questions list, but neither of them was tweeted. – Martin Jan 9 '16 at 16:07
  • @Martin then someone configured it not to tweet hot posts – nicael Jan 9 '16 at 16:11
  • @Martin dunno why would one do it... – nicael Jan 9 '16 at 16:11
  • Going to wait until someone comes and disprove me. – nicael Jan 9 '16 at 16:13
  • There has been criticism on the math meta in the past about the type of questions selected for the HNQ not being representative of the site so perhaps they requested the bot not advertise those questions. – casey Jan 9 '16 at 17:01
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A rather experienced user told me in chat that:

  • The bot tweets once every 3 hours, so it has 8 tweets per day.
  • Bounties have the highest priority, all questions with bounties are tweeted.
  • If there are many bounties, the twitter bot builds a backlog of bountied posts waiting for their turn. While this backlog exists, no other category can be tweeted.

This is not documented somewhere, it is only based on his personal observations of the behavior of the twitter account. (Which questions are tweeted? After a bounty is placed, how long does it take before a question is tweeted?)

My observations made after I posted this question seem to support those claims. (At the time when I posted the question, there were many bounties on math.SE. If the average was above 8 bounties a day, the above claims would explain why no other questions were tweeted. The number of bounties at that site dropped a bit recently. And now also some tweets other than bounties appeared on the twitter account. For some examples just look at the twitter account. But I linked to some examples also in the EDIT 3 in the question.)

Despite the fact that this does not seem to be in any "official" documentation, I tend to believe this explanation. The behavior of the twitter feed since I posted this question is consistent with these "conjectures" (for the lack of the better word).

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