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I just noticed a particular MSE post today on a topic I care about that was posted almost a week ago, which I entirely missed before. I'm a pretty avid MSE user, and this happens quite rarely to me.

This particular post was created by an SE employee, and is essentially the final answer to this meta post, which is the 10th most upvoted MSE post with a bit more than 900 upvotes right now. So it's kind of an important post, and on a topic I care about, but I still missed it entirely until it was linked in a comment somewhere else.

The reason I missed it is because it's heavily downvoted. This means it's hidden from the frontpage entirely, drastically reducing the visibility of the post. In particular the negative score removes all visibility a question usually receives from being bumped due to edits, new answers and bounties.

Many of the recent heavily-downvoted Meta posts by SE have been featured manually, which grants them a lot of visibility beyond the particular meta site. This masked the problem pretty efficiently, but it is more of a workaround, and one that isn't applicable to all situations.

Voting means something different on meta sites, and not every downvoted question should be hidden from view. Closed and downvoted questions can certainly still be affected by the usual rules on the frontpage, and that should cover the vast majority of questions that actually have a purpose being on the frontpage. But open questions should be displayed on the frontpage on meta sites even if they're heavily downvoted.

  • Is the reduced threshold for hiding questions from the homepage (-8 vs. -4) not enough? – Sonic the Reinstate Monica-hog Aug 20 at 16:19
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    @SonictheAnonymousWizHog the post is at -34, so no, it's not enough – Mad Scientist Aug 20 at 16:21
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    Not even the first time this has happened. Remember the new theme announcements? ELU meta created an announcement for the announcement but this doesn’t allow you to see that there are updates on the question, such as new answers. – Laurel Aug 20 at 16:30
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    Can you think of any non-employee-authored, heavily-downvoted posts that would've been worth seeing? – Shog9 Aug 20 at 16:37
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    @Shog9 probably not, but I wouldn't rely on my memory for this – Mad Scientist Aug 20 at 16:39
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    @Shog9 If there aren't (m)any, can't we make it so that heavily-downvoted questions show on the homepage if they were posted by a user with the staff bit? – Sonic the Reinstate Monica-hog Aug 20 at 17:16
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    @Shog9 agree; however, that involves the staff member to be willing to do that. For the aforementioned post, in particular, and other post candidates, in general – it would be useful to give visibility regardless. Now, my only option to increase post visibility – was to add a bounty, which has very limited effect. – Anton Menshov Aug 20 at 17:47
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    If the goal here is only more visibility for employee posts, then might as well just make that the request, @anton. – Shog9 Aug 20 at 18:04
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    @Shog9 this particular post wasn't featured, and it was a post where a negative reaction could easily be anticipated. This creates a situation where not featuring can look like trying to sweep the topic under the rug, a solution that doesn't require manual intervention avoids this entirely. – Mad Scientist Aug 20 at 19:07
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    @Shog9 employees can manually feature the post, which puts it on the community bulletin on every site on the network, possibly pushing out other featured posts. I'm not saying that's good or bad, but I've already seen one flag asking us to unfeature a post because of the effect it was having elsewhere, so as people look at data (what do "featured" trends look like and how often do employees post questions anyway?), it's something to keep in mind. – Monica Cellio Aug 20 at 19:15
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    Just to be clear: MSE-featured posts do not "push out" anything on other sites, @Monica. Whatever would be shown on a per-site bulletin without any MSE-featured posts is still shown with them. Details: meta.stackexchange.com/questions/130621/… – Shog9 Aug 20 at 19:17
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    Thanks @Shog9! Good to know. (I declined that flag anyway, but now I can do so with even more confidence.) – Monica Cellio Aug 20 at 19:18
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    @Shog9 posted the alternative suggestion with smaller scope. – Anton Menshov Aug 20 at 21:24
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    @shog9 I've encountered a handful just after being back on MSO for three weeks. The active meta community has entrenched the "downvotes are for disagreement" mantra causing posts that need visibility to be lost. For example, It was only on a lark that I saw this issue a user had: meta.stackoverflow.com/questions/388668/… because it had been downvoted into oblivion. We shouldn't hide users's problems through downvotes on meta sites. – George Stocker Aug 21 at 13:13
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    @shog9 Here's another example after using the workaround suggested by the answer in this post: meta.stackoverflow.com/questions/388714/… I'm not sure a moderator would have seen that if they weren't on the front page when it was asked. It was downvoted very quickly (-27 currently). – George Stocker Aug 21 at 13:15
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I agree with this proposal, but until it is implemented, there is an easy workaround that I almost always use:

Instead of accessing the homepage of each site, browse the /questions path. If you sort by "active", you will see edits/new answers on downvoted questions.

After a while your browser will remember the correct path, and autocomplete it when you type the URL.

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    The SE mobile apps also don't hide downvoted questions on the main page. – Sonic the Reinstate Monica-hog Aug 20 at 17:15
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    I usually navigate SE by hamburger not raw URL, and here on meta I try to scan for questions that got pushed off the front page each day. If you're already current on the front page then searching for score:..-8 is probably more efficient. – Monica Cellio Aug 20 at 19:17
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    @MonicaCellio' Then click on the top left hamburger, and then "questions" in the menu. – user000001 Aug 20 at 19:19
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    Sorry, that was shorthand -- add is:q to the query to skip the extra step. (You don't want to find all the downvoted answers, after all.) – Monica Cellio Aug 20 at 19:21
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+50

As a moderator on Stack Overflow's meta site, I agree with this proposal.

Users come to us with their support issues, and due to the reasons why people downvote:

  • posts that are a little salty (wouldn't you be salty if your question was just closed and you didn't understand why and no one were there to help?)
  • posts they disagree with
  • posts they feel don't 'show enough effort'

We're losing support requests to the blackhole of downvotes on meta.

If Stack Overflow wants to be more welcoming, that does mean having an avenue for people to get their questions about how Stack Overflow works answered -- and that can't happen if those posts are being downvoted out of sight. I can point to at least 5 different occasions recently where due to downvotes I had to find the questions through other means (seeing the Meta Comment archive on chat, for example).

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