The HNQ is a hot-button issue but I think it's safe to say that the way the HNQ visitors interact with a site can often be problematic. This question on preventing "drive-by upvotes" from non-regular users seems to indicate some consensus on that at least. Another suggestion was in: Breaking the HNQ feedback loop on bad questions. Since it's clear that HNQ is here to stay, I'd like to suggest a change that I believe would help balance the entertainment value of the HNQ against the negative impact it currently often has on questions that are featured there: open questions followed from a HNQ link in read-only mode.

A purely technical request for such a read-only option has been suggested before but got less than 100 views and little traction. As mentioned on that question Reddit implements a similar system called "No Participation" and I envision this working in much the same way:

Users who follow a link from HNQ to a different site open that question in a non-intrusive read-only mode and have to take some kind of action to disable that mode before they can interact with it (comment, vote or flag as based on the usual reputation requirements). That action could take a number of forms and could for instance have a site-specific text that briefly explains the culture of the site and the standards it has for answers.

I'm not suggesting a particular form of implementation here as there would have to be support for the general idea first, both from meta and presumably from SE. I assume there'd be some UI coding involved but this has the advantage of not touching the reputation/privilege system at all.

  • What if, instead of this, mods could view a list of questions on their site that have been HNQ'd in, say, the past week, so can easily go through to check for issues? There's also the "posts with notable activity" list, available to users with mod tool privileges, too.
    – Jason C
    Mar 6, 2017 at 19:22
  • 2
    @JasonC We effectively already have that but it does nothing to address the problems HNQ causes and the only thing mods can really do about HNQ is prepare to spend a lot of time cleaning up the noise.
    – Lilienthal
    Mar 6, 2017 at 19:28

3 Answers 3


Like I've said before limiting people from participating in questions in the HNQ only treating the symptoms and not the actual problem. Sites need a way to tailor what goes on the HNQ. If the site can get a chance to review and approve (or disapprove) a question that is a eligible HNQ before it reaches the HNQ list, it will be much better.

Likewise, users should be able to remove questions from appearing in the HNQ similar to protecting questions that attract too much low/bad quality answers without closing it. This "heat shield" would prevent the question from showing on the HNQ because they are too hot to handle for the site they originated on. The actual mechanic for this should go through review as it will be a pretty powerful effect and should only be used when needed.

  • 2
    While this would prevent low-quality questions from taking over the HNQ to the extent that they do now which also makes it hard to "fix" them, it doesn't stop some of the other issues HNQ causes. Most problematic from a Q&A standpoint are the disproportionate votes on early answers and whatever 1-2 answers happen to be top-voted at the time it reaches HNQ. From site/community/moderation standpoint the amount of comment noise that HNQ generates is also often an issue, particularly on "soft topic" sites.
    – Lilienthal
    Mar 6, 2017 at 19:25
  • 2
    @Lilienthal I'm from music SE trust me I know the effect it has, but at the same time I want new people to come and participate on the site. Making the HNQ have good questions that reflects the site is much better then a blanket "no one new can participate and/or has to jump through several hoops to do so" which a lot of proposals about the HNQ turn into.
    – Dom
    Mar 6, 2017 at 19:31


I sometimes visit questions from the HNQ sidebar and would like to be able to upvote, downvote, comment, edit, and everything else without making any extra action.

I do agree there is a problem with some questions getting "too much attention" this way, but think the solution is not to block the users from performing actions, or making it harder for them to do those actions. This will only frustrate the users and harm the usability of the HNQ as a whole.

  • 5
    The HNQ losing some usability is, in my view, a small price to pay to increase the quality of the questions featured there and avoid having them devolve into noise. This could be tied into site/network rep to avoid affecting established users but that adds another layer of complexity. Sadly "HNQ is problematic but [this] isn't a solution" seems to be the common consensus on every proposal surrounding it along with the idea that HNQ should be fixed at the root.
    – Lilienthal
    Mar 6, 2017 at 14:08
  • 1
    @Lilienthal I agree, to some extent, and wish I had a better solution. Mar 6, 2017 at 14:10
  • 1
    Perhaps there should be a discussion thread "How can we 'fix' the HNQ?" instead? A search hasn't turned up anything like that.
    – Lilienthal
    Mar 6, 2017 at 14:16
  • 1
    @Lilienthal it might be too broad. I won't vote to close it myself, but others might. Mar 6, 2017 at 14:16

First, let's get some things straight. To start with, current implementation of HNQ is a disaster. Even SE team indirectly admitted that when they practically disabled this feature at the main site in the network (Stack Overflow).

Another thing you need to realise is that they aren't going to change anything in HNQ no matter how you try. Recent incident at Workplace when gang of sock puppets exploited HNQ to troll the site shows this quite clearly.

When the abuse was discovered SE team did nothing about HNQ. They simply deleted troublesome questions (ignoring effort put into good faith answers by site regulars).

Due to vast difference in scale smaller sites can't complain as loud as it was back then when Stack Overflow suffered the same pain. You just can't make them perceive it as problem as painful (and thus worth addressing) as it was when Stack Overflow had it.

If you were a regular user you hardly could do anything to help. Site regulars are too much outnumbered by careless passers-by to make any difference. But as a moderator at the site you seem to be most active, here is what you can do to help.

Whenever you notice a question from your site in the sidebar, go there and protect it. You wouldn't be the first doing this - Physics.SE moderators follow this approach and another moderator told me in chat that some other sites do that too.

Granted this way wouldn't help against troublesome upvoting from entertained visitors armed by association bonus. But it at least would prevent piling useless repetitive "answers" that are so popular at Stack Overflow (and that are so much against quality norms at your site but posters don't care because they've learned posting habits at a totally different site).

For the sake of completeness there is an ancient guidance that recommends against proactively protecting questions. But you can ignore it because it was invalidated by SE team when they introduced totally proactive "super protection" that prevents Stack Overflow questions from sticking in the hot list.

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