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Sometimes multiple questions from one site could be chosen to show on the HNQ list.

This looks rather ugly, especially when this list is truncated to 5 or less questions - it feels as if the system tries to shove a particular site down your throat.

enter image description here

(for readers who may feel it's minor, a while ago a whole site was removed from HNQ after having pair of their questions repeat like that)

In order to estimate how frequently this is happening, I ran a little experiment. I picked a particular page that listed 5 questions in the sidebar and made a couple page reloads to observe how shuffling works.

16 cases of my 50 sampled reloads displayed me repeated sites. This seems a bit too many and I suggest taking measures for this to happen less often.

Another angle to look at this is a matter of consistency. System introduces specific limits for repeat sites in source hot list with the purpose to ensure broad representation of sites in SE network. This request proposes similar limitation and can be viewed as an effort to maintain intended variety to the part of source list that goes to sidebar and is supposed to be most viewed by end users.


One way that comes to mind, if we want to make it with minimal changes and risk, would be to "pre-select" a higher amount of questions, say, 5-10 more that we want to be displayed in the sidebar and, if it contains repeated sites, questions from that site could simply be removed from the list, up to the mentioned extra amount in the pre-selected list.

This is not quite waterproof but I would still expect a noticeable improvement over what we have now, especially in the cases where the final list is small and repetitions feel most annoying.

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  • 1
    if the maximum number of same sites is limited to 3 you could at least force them on positions 1, 3 and 5 so they are not next to each other.
    – rene
    Mar 9, 2019 at 9:16
  • 2
    @MSOGA based on past experience I tend to be rather pessimistic about expectations like that
    – gnat
    Mar 9, 2019 at 20:24
  • 5
    @gnat I can smell the sarcasm all the way to my place, thousands of kilometers from Norm. Wonder how you missed it, lol. Mar 11, 2019 at 7:39
  • (sort of update) after recent changes announced here I re-run the experiment with 50 page reloads to check if there was maybe some significant side effect and it looks like there was no big impact: this time 10 cases of my 50 sampled reloads displayed me repeated sites
    – gnat
    Mar 13, 2019 at 8:49
  • Over on Mi Yodeya we call it hot stuff
    – Dr. Shmuel
    Mar 17, 2019 at 22:34
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    (for readers who may feel it's minor, a while ago a whole site was removed from HNQ after having pair of their questions repeat like that) Having two questions on HNQ wasn't the reason for its removal though, was it? Jun 6, 2019 at 14:32
  • @Mari-LouA have you checked the referred link, and in particular screen shot. There was exactly two of three questions from IPS on it and if there would be just one then I bet the site wouldn't be blocked
    – gnat
    Jun 6, 2019 at 14:37
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    It was the titles, used as a pretext to attack SE. If there had been two questions from SuperUser, SF, RPG, Puzzling or Worldbuilding nothing would have happened. Jun 6, 2019 at 15:00
  • @Mari-LouA that's for sure. But my point is, if only one of troublesome titles was from IPS staff simply wouldn't dare to block the site from HNQ
    – gnat
    Jun 6, 2019 at 15:08
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    We have no way of knowing. But having two questions in HNQ wasn't the cause of its removal. Jun 6, 2019 at 15:12
  • @Mari-LouA we interpret the events differently then. Per my observations this was the only reason for removal and I can not even imagine how it could have happened if that infamous screen shot had only one IPS question in it
    – gnat
    Jun 6, 2019 at 15:38

1 Answer 1

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+350

Since the per-site limit is now five and the hot list contains 100 questions, the list must contain entries from at least 20 different sites at any point in time. (Probably more, as not every site that has hot questions will have five of them.)

Most of the time, from casual observation, the sidebar HNQ list contains 20 or fewer questions, though I just saw a list with 24 so that's not perfect. However, I think it's close enough for this proposal to work: for the list shown on sites, as opposed to the full list, don't show duplicates from the same site. Show 20 or so hot questions from different sites; someone who clicks through can still see the five each from HNQ-heavy sites, but we don't need to over-promote them on the shorter lists. In that rare case where the code wants to show more than 20 hot questions and there are only 20 sites with current hot questions, either truncate the list (20 ought to be enough) or allow repeats. I expect this is a super-rare case, so whatever's easiest is probably good enough.

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  • per my observations SE folks seem to be currently experimenting with even smaller per-site limit of three questions (and it feels good so far) - meaning that we may eventually end up with parameters guaranteeing over 30 different sites present in hot list at any time. This would make job of dropping repeated sites from sidebar even simpler
    – gnat
    May 14, 2019 at 13:42
  • What's wrong with seeing two good/great questions from the same site on the HNQ? Why is this "bad"? Jun 6, 2019 at 6:16
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    @Mari-LouA it comes across as a little greedy; if there are only 20 or so slots and 175 sites, and one of the purposes of HNQ is to introduce people to content they wouldn't have otherwise seen, then having more variety on the short list is beneficial. Your question might be better directed to the OP. Jun 6, 2019 at 14:21
  • I left a comment b/c it appears you agree with the OP …don't show duplicates from the same site…. IMO, it's better to have two good questions from a single site than 10 mediocre questions from 10 different sites. Jun 6, 2019 at 14:36
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    Who judges mediocre? Communities are of different sizes (meaning different "native" vote counts and views), but that doesn't mean their content is less valuable. Jun 6, 2019 at 14:37
  • Did I say that smaller sites shouldn't count? But according to SE the best way to judge quality is by numbers. Number of upvotes, number of badges, number of views, number of answers a question generates. I have seen really great questions on EL&U miss out on HNQ because they lacked upvotes and answers that were upvoted by only a few core members. Jun 6, 2019 at 15:16
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    Then I don't understand why you object to something that increases site variety. Yes, the HNQ formula is still problematic, but at least with site quotas we're not preventing some sites from ever having a shot at it. Limiting the short list is the same principle as limiting the full list to 5/site. This isn't the place to address the formula in general; this question and my answer are about one specific adjustment to how we present HNQs. Jun 6, 2019 at 15:20

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