When this legendary answer appeared on Science Fiction & Fantasy SE, it was over four years after the question had originally been asked. In spite of the epicness of the answer and overwhelming response (possibly the best ever on that SE), it should have been totally impossible for the question/answer to hit the HNQ, since the HNQ formula divides by a product of the age of the question.
However, SF&F SE moderator Rand al'Thor says this question was indeed in the HNQ due to the epic answer.
I thought of the story as soon as I saw the post in hot network questions. Now I am lamenting not having seen it in the unanswered section.
The user has since clarified:
Here's the data I can provide: When I saw the question in HNQ, I was on Win7 and using Internet Explorer 11 (only browser allowed on work computer at the time). I saw the question in the HNQ section on the right-hand side. At the moment, that section looks like this for me. It's right underneath the Linked and Related questions lists. I was probably on either Puzzling or SuperUser since those are the two I frequent the most. I was definitely not on the root SE site.
- Was this question really in the HNQ after the answer was posted?
- If yes, was it manually added* to celebrate the epic answer?
- If yes to #1 but no to #2, how was it possible?
I have tried to use The Wayback Machine to research this, but the records seem incomplete for the relevant time period. The problem seems to be that the the second, third, fourth page etc. of the front page aren't cached frequently enough to give detailed results. I've also gotten this weird message saying "No questions found", further complicating research.
* = I have never heard of a question being manually added to the HNQ, but if this question was actually there after the answer, I can't really think of any other explanation. Unless I have misunderstood the math somehow.