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After searching for how to turn off 'Hot Network Questions' I see that debate over this topic has been raging for years. Threads have repeated and on-going replies with users posting their frustrations at looking to remove it.

It is extremely surprising that there is still no option to do so. Why is this?

Like many others, I find Stack Overflow a useful resource for professional programming and statistical issues, but this time is much less productive than it should be because of this section, and frequently turns me off Stack Overflow and makes me look for other sources first, where I won't be distracted by, for example, philosophical debate (from the interesting to the ludicrous, they're still a distraction and often not appropriate for work) or this week's Game of Thrones spoilers.

I realise this is a repeat topic, but there seems to be a large body of users who are against the Hot Network Questions sidebar, at least in its current implementation, and there does not seem to be a clear justification for why it remains like this.

  • Edited to clarify distinction from previous question 'what is the goal of "Hot Network Questions?" (although this also seems unresolved); I think the specific issue that I and a lot of other users have is that they are an unwanted and inappropriate distraction when trying to use Stack Exchange for work purposes.
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    Spend any amount of time on the web and you learn "ad blindness". (Which is why a lot of sites are making their ads more and more obnoxious.) It's a list of simple links, in the right sidebar, and under other, more important, information. You find that distracting? – ale Sep 7 '17 at 14:37
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    What is the justification to spend dev hours on removing a feature that only a small body of the total user population seem to have trouble with ignoring. Why do I have to live with a less amusing site because some users lack a bit of self conrol? – rene Sep 7 '17 at 14:39
  • @rene IMO it would be worth spending some time on the option to at least filter the list and not see questions from specific sites, as this really annoy quite many users. But agree it's not worth it to make a feature to totally hide or remove the list. – Shadow The Princess Wizard Sep 7 '17 at 14:45
  • Yes, I do find it distracting, and I'm clearly not the only one. It is very hard to force yourself to not read something, especially when it is in line and flows alongside the content you are seeking, and one sentence is more than enough to distract, especially from relatively detailed programming questions. – user8500124 Sep 7 '17 at 15:11
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Non official reply, i.e. my own personal take on this: this is something Stack Exchange finds useful for the network as whole, kind of internal advertisement.

So same way they don't give users the option to hide the actual advertisements in the sidebar, they also don't give option to hide that internal advertisement which comes in the form of Hot Questions.

Good or bad? Well, it's good for the company, in the long run, in my opinion. It makes sure lots of users visit sites in the network they would have never visited otherwise, and few of those users then stick around in those sites and contribute.

That said, I do agree there are downsides to the Hot Network Questions, biggest of those is causing low quality answers and out of propotion votes on the Hot Questions and their answers. While this is a big downside, it's stil only "collateral damage", and the overall result is still better.

  • I agree that there seems to be some company level push for the Hot Network Questions to remain, but the lack of a clear official response or justification despite the on-going and unresolved issues people bring up feels rather against the ethos of stackexchange. I suppose we won't know if it's good for the company or not. Maybe, if it wasn't to become something like reddit, but then, reddit exists for that, and even reddit sensibly limits irrelevant distractions across sub-reddits. – user8500124 Sep 7 '17 at 14:39
  • @user8500124 they probably don't want to irritate those who are irritated by this more than necessary, not sure though. As for making SE be like reddit it won't happen, the HNQ is pretty minor in the UX, lying silently in the right bottom part of the screen. It's not in the front, and note also that inside question page there are only 5 Hot Questions displayed unless there is lots of scroll. – Shadow The Princess Wizard Sep 7 '17 at 14:43
  • I'd say overall result is 100K clicks a day, a big cash cow (per what I learned from Nathan Tuggy in referred discussion it's over 5% of total SO visits) – gnat Sep 7 '17 at 21:06

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