According to Grace Note♦ here, the "front page" of a site filters out some questions:

The "home page" of a Stack Exchange site will filter out all questions that fall below a certain threshold. This is -4 score for main Q&A sites, and -8 for Meta sites. This is because the home page is meant to highlight quality content, so that a brand new visitor will see good stuff.

This happens on all tabs on the front page, including active. Isn't this a problem though? How are we supposed to see new activity on downvoted questions?

  • If a question is downvoted quick enough, it falls off the home page before people see it. I know that some people only use the home page. While I don't know the exact number of people like that I noticed that here on Meta SE sometimes questions get downvoted and drop off the home page before they get enough close votes and when this happens it takes much longer for the question to be closed. I've seen this happen on other sites, where the threshold is much lower since they are main sites. It's just disheartening, especially because I also sometimes see this happen with spam and I don't like seeing such questions stick around.
  • Heavily downvoted questions that are edited don't get any attention, even if the question is perfect now.
  • On the flip side, a heavily downvoted question that is vandalized will not get any attention.
  • New answers don't get any attention. If people don't vote, good content can't "float to the top" like it should.

And probably most importantly:

  • New activity (both edits and answers) on downvoted meta posts will be missed. While downvotes indicate an idea is bad, many of these posts are official messages from Stack Exchange about changes that they're making. As a result, this isn't something that people would not want to see activity on. In fact, this situation happened on dozens of meta sites simultaneously when the new designs were launched (and on most of those sites people expressed how confused the disappearance of the downvoted meta post made them).

I understand the desire to not show "garbage" to new users visiting the front page, at least on main sites. But I don't think it makes sense to not show these posts to users with some rep (or even an account) on the site. On meta sites, users tend to at least have some stake in the site, so I'm not sure it makes sense to optimize for showing brand new visitors good stuff.

  • It stops showing up at a score of (I believe) -8 on metas. Nov 26, 2017 at 21:38
  • @benisuǝqbackwards Thanks, that helped me figure out why this is happening (it's actually not a bug). I have edited to address this.
    – Laurel
    Nov 26, 2017 at 22:02
  • 1
    I often browse the /questions page directly which does show heavily downvoted questions, sorted by activity as well. This way I can notice edits to "bad things", and I'm sure that many other regulars are doing the same. So "Heavily downvoted questions that are edited don't get any attention" is just not true. Nov 27, 2017 at 8:33

3 Answers 3


That's right; the main page is meant to highlight decent content. The vast majority of visitors to a site aren't regulars; they're the people coming from Google, the people following a link from a tweet, and so on. They don't know much about SE. If they see a bunch of junk on the main page, they'll conclude that we're low-quality instead of realizing that there's a whole curation process that we follow (close/reopen, edit, requests for clarification, etc).

The "questions" link in the left nav is there so that you can see all questions that have come in recently, including the bad ones. You can sort this view by newest to see just the new questions or active to see everything that's been bumped:

screenshot of filters

You ask: what if one of these questions gets edited and fixed -- nobody will see that and remove downvotes. You'll need to draw people's attention to the question in that case. You can do this on your site's meta or in chat. I've seen both approaches on the sites I'm active on. Tell people why you think it's worth another look, what's happened since it was downvoted off the front page, and in my experience, people will take a look. If they agree with you they can vote; if they disagree, they can tell you what's still wrong. Either way, you're getting people to take another look and help rescue the question.

It's best to only do this for questions that deserve rescuing. If all you did was fix some typos and the real problem is that the question is way too broad or unclear or whatever, there's nothing to see yet. Focus your efforts on posts that are likely to benefit the site.


There are two problems here: the UI design and (if I'm truly being honest) me because I didn't really understand the system when I suggested I change it.

The real answer is that the feature I was suggesting already exists. The active tab does show heavily downvoted questions; I just wasn't looking at the right active tab, which is under questions > active:

I knew that there were two active tabs, but I never understood the difference before.

Obviously, this means that the feature I originally requested doesn't make sense. However, I think that changes are still necessary because the UI is confusing. I counted, and there are 13 different lists of questions on your average site (e.g. ELU), 15 on Mathematics SE, and 17 here on MSE. Two of these lists show active questions (where one filters out downvoted questions), and two of them are identical as far as I can tell (questions > unanswered and unanswered > votes).

Something the (retired) New Nav on Stack Overflow did right was to simplify everything into one list of tabs instead of three (home, questions, unanswered), letting you pick and choose which tabs you want to see. Here was my setup:

None of these tabs filtered out heavily downvoted questions (which likely made it all the more confusing on sites without this navigation).

Unfortunately, Custom Question Lists, which is the successor to the retired New Nav, doesn't actually change the home page.

  • Heavily downvoted questions that are edited don't get any attention, even if the question is perfect now.

I think heavily downvoted questions are those that were posted in a very poor state. They can be redeemed by improving them, but I think the advantage on visibility should go to well-thought out questions that are well-received at the outset.

  • New answers don't get any attention. If people don't vote, good content can't "float to the top" like it should.

I think it is fine to answer poor questions, but what we are seeking is great Q&As, so any time I choose to answer a poor question, I accept the risk that it may not get visibility, and may even be deleted along with the poor question.

My advice is to try to always post great questions at the outset, and not rely on them being improved later either by other users or yourself. There is a way back for such questions but that road is far rougher than the smooth road that great questions receive.

  • though meta being meta, it could be a great but unpopular post. Or a mediocre but unpopular post. With awesome answers. The really terribad ones end up... going somewhat more terminally invisible. Nov 27, 2017 at 3:38
  • @JourneymanGeek I'm not sure that a great question should ever be too unpopular, if one simple guideline is followed i.e. use the question to describe in a non-partial way the issue only, and leave a self-answer to provide the solution when you think you have one. While the answer may get heavily downvoted, it should not drag down the question, and your unpopular idea being thus quarantined is easily deleted, if so desired.
    – PolyGeo
    Nov 27, 2017 at 3:59

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