I was curious but couldn't find any definitive listing on this. Is there an official list of sites excluded from Hot Network Questions somewhere?

Additionally, which sites are penalized from Hot Network Questions, to prevent the list from being dominated by that site?


2 Answers 2



Limited (by hotness score)

These sites can still contribute the same number of questions to Hot Network Questions, but their questions need higher hotness score to be selected.

Heavily (80% penalty factor)

Quite (45% penalty factor)

References: How is hotness score calculated at larger sites?, penalty factor per-site (higher value = smaller hotness score)

Limited (by number of questions)

Questions on these sites can still end up in Hot Network Questions with the same hotness score, but these sites contribute fewer than the default five questions at a time.

1 question at a time

Past occurrences

  • 7
    @Somewhat there is a blacklist of terms that keeps the most problematic questions from sites like Skeptics out of the HNQ. Commented Oct 17, 2018 at 10:22
  • 1
    @MadScientist where? Is it public? Commented Oct 17, 2018 at 10:59
  • 6
    @ShadowWizard The list is not public as far as I know, a few terms are known and there are some scattered meta posts about it, but not easy to find. This is one meta post that shows the existence of the list: meta.stackexchange.com/q/242047/151385 Commented Oct 17, 2018 at 11:01
  • @gnat I also couldn't find it on their respective meta, but I'd take Jon's meta post on Christianity and Shog direct statement on chat as the source of truth. I've also asked Shog to review this answer, but there's no comment on both sites. Commented Oct 25, 2018 at 20:52
  • see my fact-check at the Tavern: "I see 6 (six) Workplace questions in HNQ right now: #121410, #121411, #121512, #121499, #121395, #121407". I can't tell where Shog has got his idea but it certainly is not true
    – gnat
    Commented Oct 25, 2018 at 21:06
  • speaking of Software Eng it it harder to make such an overwhelming proof but if necessary I can invest some time and demonstrate that it isn't penalized either, it pops in HNQ frequently enough to gather representative set of examples. Maybe this can even be proven based on Glorfindel's database of hot questions
    – gnat
    Commented Oct 25, 2018 at 21:15
  • If I interpret Jon's chat message correctly, Workplace and Software Engineering are penalized more than Stack Overflow, not less (apart from the traffic factor).
    – Glorfindel Mod
    Commented Nov 10, 2018 at 12:21
  • 1
    @Glorfindel I interpret the value to be "reduced by", based on Shog's answer where he stated *0.2 (assuming SO: 1-0.8) Commented Nov 10, 2018 at 13:09

I'm posting this as an answer as this change worries me a great deal.

Not the fact that it happened, but how it happened.

Someone tweeted a complaint on Twitter about HNQ and didn't explicitly ask for anything to happen. This happened at 11:39pm (UTC).

40 minutes later, an SE developer tweeted back stating "Yes I agree, I've pushed a change to remove that site from the HNQ".

Twitter exchange

So, there's been a change to the site's behaviour in 40 minutes based on an external tweet.

If someone in my team pushed out a live change in that kind of time, they'd be hauled up in front of management and asked why the hell they were bypassing the change process.

Was this change discussed? Were the moderators of IPS informed up front? Or is this (as it seems to be), a rogue developer pushing changes out?

  • 10
    We have so far recieved no input about this. I know the moderators were informed after the fact (I don't know the timeline), and I know IPS meta hasn't had a post about it. I propose we hold judgement for now until staff had an opportunity to explain their reasoning.
    – Magisch
    Commented Oct 17, 2018 at 10:55
  • 14
    I won't call it "rogue developer", more like panic action, fearing the outcome if it won't be changed in that instant. Commented Oct 17, 2018 at 11:20
  • 45
    I agree. My main concern here is that a change went live seemingly within 40 minutes of the initial report. That implies that there wasn't much in the way of discussion/approval/testing before this was released. In my world, that's a bad thing. and I saw nothing in the twitter exchange that seemed to merit an immediate call to action.
    – user351483
    Commented Oct 17, 2018 at 11:29
  • 42
    And to put it into perspective, the HNQ and better ways to maintain it have been discussed extensively for years on Meta Stack Exchange, with the general takeaway from SE that there's allegedly no problem to fix and nothing to be changed in that regard. Commented Oct 17, 2018 at 16:05
  • 58
    I don't understand why this twitter user is even being paid attention to? Looking at the replies in the thread it's very obvious that they have no intention of actually being constructive, they just want to moan.
    – Pyritie
    Commented Oct 18, 2018 at 11:15
  • 18
    @Pyritie Yep, that tweet is definitely a case of someone is wrong on the internet. Maybe not moan, but score a point without doing any serious investigation. Well, that's Twitter.
    – Jan Doggen
    Commented Oct 18, 2018 at 12:26
  • 3
    You may want to add context that this is about Interpersonal Relationships being removed from HNQ. I was initially confused, as I hadn't about what happened.
    – Stevoisiak
    Commented Oct 18, 2018 at 16:57
  • 1
    @Pyritie it seems why they cared is because one of stackexchange's behind-the-scenes stakeholders saw the tweet and was worried: meta.stackexchange.com/questions/317011/… Commented Nov 12, 2018 at 7:09
  • 6
    That tweet has since been deleted. Has it been preserved somewhere, perhaps as a screen shot? I'm curious to learn what the offending questions were.
    – SQB
    Commented Mar 13, 2019 at 10:33
  • @SQB There's a screenshot in this other meta post. Commented Sep 25, 2023 at 15:56
  • @JohnGowers thank you. I remember having seen it since asking. Please flag this one for deletion as "no longer needed" after reading.
    – SQB
    Commented Sep 25, 2023 at 19:50

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