This is a question for the community at large.

I've been fascinated by the HNQ list for a while now and this question has pushed me over the edge to create an HNQ list monitoring and logging tool (for purely academic purposes).

Currently for each question on the list at each sample I'm planning on capturing:

  • The obvious stuff:
    • Question ID, site, etc.
    • The official hotness value (it's reported in the tool tips on the master list).
    • First and last time seen on the list (implicit in the recording of sample timestamps).
  • The parameters of the core formula:
    • Question Score
    • Answer Count
    • Total Answer Score
    • Age in Hours (/ Creation Date)

Additionally I'd also like to capture some extra data for the purpose of running simulations of alternate algorithms (with limits, of course, since I'm only sampling questions that actually are on the HNQ list). Right now I'm thinking:

  • Up/down vote count per question.
  • Individual up/down vote count per answer.
  • View count.
  • Some suggestions from chat:
    • Number of close votes.
    • Close vote times and question closure time (if it ends up closed) (this does require me to track questions for some amount of time after they leave the list).
    • Protection status.
    • Question comment count.
    • Per-answer comment count.

All of the above are captured per sample to allow an easy look at changes over time. We also have the benefit of some additional data being recreatable through SEDE queries if needed, which isn't ideal but can fill in gaps if certain things are missed that we want to see later.

My question for everybody here is: What else should I capture? I'm taking requests. What might we care about for simulating alternate score algorithms? What might we care about just because we're curious? All suggestions welcome.

  • 1
    if possible, I would consider additionally capturing close votes on questions and delete votes on answers
    – gnat
    May 7, 2017 at 18:13
  • 1
    Hah, my suggestions are so awesome, there are no answers yet.
    – M.A.R.
    May 7, 2017 at 18:54
  • 3
    You don't need to scrape /hot:see my attempt at loutish-rod.glitch.me and here is the code: glitch.com/edit/#!/loutish-rod?path=README.md:1:0 it uses /hot-questions-for-mobile
    – rene
    May 7, 2017 at 19:17
  • 5
    Something that you should track but is not available is the integrated annoyance caused to site regulars. May 7, 2017 at 19:33
  • @dmckee integrated amount of annoyance at a site of SO size turned out sufficient to force SE team effectively turn HNQ feature off at this site (do you remember meta drama about croissants?:)
    – gnat
    May 7, 2017 at 20:00
  • @rene Now that is convenient. Thanks for that.
    – Jason C
    May 7, 2017 at 20:47
  • 1
    Why is this community wiki? May 8, 2017 at 14:36
  • @MonicaCellio I requested cw right after I posted it because I felt it was more poll style and wasn't even sure if it was a great question to be asked here, and I also felt any rep gained didn't really reflect meta-y stuff. I dunno. I might be totally wrong, and that could've been a mistake. I don't really want to debate it or make it a thing. Now I just feel self-conscious about it. Adam Lear disagreed in chat. But I had already made the flag. Then it got converted. I think it's fine. Maybe. I don't know, or care. I need an adult.
    – Jason C
    May 8, 2017 at 14:45
  • 1
    Jason, I wasn't trying to make anybody feel bad. I was just confused by the post-answer status change. I didn't write my answer with community editing in mind; it's my opinion/suggestions, provided as input, and not meant to be the beginnings of a canonical answer. So I don't know what to do with that now. May 8, 2017 at 15:02
  • 1
    I guess this is the next best to Please open the Hot Network Questions to auditing via the Data Explorer.
    – E.P.
    May 25, 2017 at 13:32
  • 2
    I suppose it's time to start working on this. Hope to have it up and running by the end of the week.
    – Jason C
    Jun 5, 2017 at 13:33
  • @JasonC Did this end up working in the end? Or is rene's version the best we have at the moment?
    – E.P.
    Aug 11, 2018 at 11:29
  • @E.P. Rene’s is the best because I’ve neglected se for a realllllly long time now, because I’ve actially been doing good at focusing on work for the past year. I have userscripts to update, too. I’m sure, as usual, at some point I will enter my usual 2-3 month long procrastination phase again and spend 23h/day here, though, lol. Sorry!
    – Jason C
    Aug 16, 2018 at 1:36

3 Answers 3


These are all great suggestions for properties of the hot questions themselves. Can we also capture useful information about the sites from which the hot questions come? I have two suggestions:

  • Total number of questions asked "recently" and how many answers they have. I'm not sure what counts as recent, but question age is a factor in hotness and my goal here is to understand what proportion of a site's questions are coming to HNQ and how close the "near misses" are. (This tells you whether small changes in the algorithm, including throttling, are likely to produce significant effects on that site.)

  • Disposition of previously-hot questions. Did they (or their answers) get closed, protected, downvoted (unlikely), or deleted? This might tell us whether something intrinsic to the question caused it to lose hotness or if it just aged out.


Related to my own feature request Encourage active users to edit Hot Questions, especially titles, I think it'd be good to record editing stats: number and extent of edits relative to other events. E.g.:

  • do questions get some touch up after their first answer comes in?
  • do mods delete a bunch of answers, add protection, and then rewrite the question?
  • do edit wars ensue over titles?

And so on.

  • to readers - please don't let bounty auto-selection trick you, I myself intended to award it this way because I think it is valuable to track editing stats and it has not been proposed for HNQ monitor before. I just somehow missed notification that bounty is over and because of that did not award it manually
    – gnat
    May 20, 2017 at 15:54

To a certain extent who is asking those questions/answers might be useful. There have been a few cases where specific users ask ... somewhat contrived questions to game the HNQ systems, and I for one would love to know what proportion of the HNQ lottery I or other users are winning ;)

For similar reasons, being able to filter per site would be nice, though it is something that's probably should be core functionality.

  • related? What's the story with this user
    – gnat
    May 14, 2017 at 9:57
  • More selfishly, I sometimes wonder if certain classes of my answers tend to get HNQ more - I'm certainly not going to adjust the way I answer to them, but I'm curious May 14, 2017 at 10:04

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