There's an existing proposal to let moderators opt-out questions from HNQ: Allow mods or gold tag badge holders to prevent question from being on hot network questions list

I would like to add: there is a category of heated questions that attract debate, often rude debate, lots of comments, a suspicious mix of upvote and downvote, and occasionally a meta question asking how to discuss the question better, that should not be picked up at all.

This has definitely come up on Academia.SE (meta: Why are we challenging the premise rather than answering the question (question on potential sexist remarks)?) and also tends to come up on workplace.SE. Academia.SE has also opened a discussion on whether it benefits the community as all. Questions that are not only hot but very polemical - in the above case the presence of sexism was contentious - should not appear in the sidebar. It hurts communities when they do.

The hot questions needs to be less blunt. You should not put the spotlight on something that is only "hot" because it is "heated". And this can happen upstream in the algorithm rather than relegating it to moderation.

The algorithm should watch out for signals like downvotes in addition to upvotes or high comment volume to tell apart "hot" from "heated." Machine learning is not magic but I think isolating the signal here is a use case for offline ML analysis to write business logic against. Some communities have this problem worse than others; perhaps more aggressive HNQ-suppression logic should be deployed there, and softer logic elsewhere.

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    Related: meta.stackexchange.com/questions/284929/… – StrongBad Dec 5 '16 at 23:33
  • @StrongBad thanks. Pretty related; not quite a duplicate because, on some thought, we need a topic focusing on the "heated" question problem. – djechlin Dec 5 '16 at 23:35
  • I can't see why not duplicate. The idea of a moderator only tag is just one kind of "allow moderators to prevent question from being on HNQ" – Shadow Wizard Dec 5 '16 at 23:40
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    @ShadowWizard maybe the algorithm should not be picking up heated questions at all, in the first place. I can just post about that if it's more helpful. My instinct was to frame around the problem though and get to what IMO is the heart of the matter, that the rudest questions have a way of making it to the top. – djechlin Dec 5 '16 at 23:42
  • @ShadowWizard okay, I did exactly that. – djechlin Dec 5 '16 at 23:46
  • somewhat related: Why is “incest” a blocked word for the hot list? "Questions containing terms which may be entirely on-topic for a given site, but which are potentially traumatic or risk meaningful distraction to others are blocked..." – gnat Feb 24 '17 at 6:46
  • djechlin, your link under "academia.SE has also opened a discussion..." looks confusing because it leads to this very question at MSE. Did you by chance mean some other discussion, at Academy meta? I found one that looks related: Has Academia Being Featured in Hot Network Questions Improved the Community? – gnat Mar 6 '17 at 20:56

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