It's been almost two months since some major changes were made to the Hot Network Questions (HNQ), including a timeline event when a post hits HNQ, a (configurable) maximum number of questions each site can have at a time in HNQ, posts ageing out of HNQ and moderators being able to remove questions from HNQ.

The last paragraph of that announcement states:

We know that there's still work to do but these changes will address the most immediate needs and give us the information we need to make changes in the future that are based on data rather than anecdotal evidence.

I'm wondering if some of this data has already been collected, and can be shared. Are these changes are already having some noticeable effect; have they actually changed anything since being implemented? Did these changes, for example, lead to differences in the number of questions on a site that hit HNQ, the time these questions spend on HNQ, site traffic, or perhaps even post scores? Is there a number of people who have used their profile settings to turn off HNQ entirely, and is there any decline in traffic as a consequence?

  • For a recent update of the changes see: meta.stackexchange.com/a/327213/282094 --- For an answer which is pretty close to a duplicate: meta.stackexchange.com/questions/326343/… (the data has only been collected since Feb 2019). --- To see your own HNQs there's Rene's query at Data.SE which could be a starting point for gathering your own answer. – Rob May 7 at 18:42
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    @Rob Different question than that second link entirely. This is asking how sites are doing on the HNQ... that question is about a specific user. We don't track that, we do have ways of seeing this by looking at link clicks... and Glorfindel has a lot of data that we didn't track until recently, so we do have some historical info on which posts were on the HNQ. – Catija May 7 at 18:46
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    The closeness is that SE only recently started tracking, so asking for the data doesn't offer enough historical difference to draw a conclusion. Resorting to rewriting Rene's query or asking Glorfindel for historical data is helpful, but in the case of Glorfindel it's a 3rd party offering and not from SE (which is presumably the source origin requested). – Rob May 7 at 19:21
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    consider editing to ask for more hard data about these recent features - how many users turned off HNQ in their profiles, how many sites set custom question limits and title filters. With regards to custom limits, I haven't made my mind whether to count IPS or not: per my reading of their meta they rather firmly decided on 1-2 questions limit, but since they are still blocked from HNQ, does that disqualify them as data point – gnat May 8 at 8:48
  • @gnat IPS will definitely go back with 1 question soon(ish). I don't know if I should add anything about the number of questions, as there's already a separate question on that here. I'll add IPS there once we're back on HNQ. – Tinkeringbell May 8 at 9:19
  • @Tinkeringbell IPS is not of much interest to me, more like a tricky case of whether to count them or not. But I really would like to know if there were (other than IPS) sites that used available options to set custom titles filters and custom question limits – gnat May 8 at 10:22
  • @gnat IIRC there were a few other sites, such as Workplace and Christianity. Don't know, though. – Sonic the Bracketed Hedgehog May 11 at 10:05
  • @SonictheInclusiveHedgehog AFAIK none of these has custom limits on number of questions. You probably mixed it with obscure manipulations with hotness score on these sites (which by the way totally failed to do the job at Workplace) - it's discussed in more details here – gnat May 13 at 9:31

Let's start off with this SEDE query showing the number of times the ♦ moderators have used the ability to remove a question from the HNQ list. It has been used about 120 times in the past 6-8 weeks; more than half of it by the Mathematics mods, but to put things in perspective (thanks @BillyMailman), they only remove about 10% of the questions which hit the HNQ list.

SEDE query results

  • That's a lot of questions removed from the HNQ. My gut is telling me that can't be right, but I don't know enough about Mathematics to say that for certain. Maybe someone, ideally a Mathematics mod, could shed some light? – Wrigglenite May 8 at 8:41
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    @Wrigglenite here is a list of affected questions. – Glorfindel May 8 at 8:49
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    And here should be the same list, but with the ones that weren't removed left in, to give a better idea what proportion are being removed (not as many as the 75 suggests; they get about ten Hot posts a day, on average) – Billy Mailman May 8 at 12:36
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    @BillyMailman good idea, I'll add a ratio column as well. – Glorfindel May 8 at 12:37
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    @BillyMailman it's worth keeping in mind that Math.SE folks have (and use) yet another way to drop questions from HNQ - by editing MathJax into their titles. This can be roughly estimated by counting how many of their hot questions contain two dollar signs in the title – gnat May 14 at 13:20

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