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Over at Photography Stack Exchange, we have a biweekly photo submission contest on our main site. For awhile, the contest was just posted as a regular question, and in order to counteract the reputation boost I was receiving, I regularly gave away several bounties on the photo submissions. The presence of the photo contest on our main site definitely boosted our viewership, and we had lots of photo submissions, and the photo contests regularly hit HNQ, thus boosting participation.

But in an attempt to address some of the concerns about voting, "unearned" reputation boost, and the idea that our Photo of the Week contest questions were basically the glaring exception to what is usually considered a good question, I started making the PotW questions CW.

After making the PotW question CW, it seems the contests never make HNQ. Is that just a coincidence, or is it a consequence of marking those questions as CW?

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    At the time of this answer they were penalized... not sure if there's been an update since.
    – bobble
    Aug 26 at 17:33
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There are still feature requests out there that request community wiki questions to be excluded from HNQ. They never seem to have been implemented. As bobble pointed out in the comments, community wiki questions do seem to be penalized, which means that it may indeed be harder for these questions to reach the required hotness score to reach the list in the first place.

But, taking a quick peek through the last 3 photo competition questions, it seems these questions just don't get answers fast enough to get on HNQ, even if there is no penalty. Questions become eligible for HNQ after 8 hours, in my experience a question should at that point have at least a few upvotes, and one answer with a couple of upvotes on it as well. In case of the photo competitions, this and this did not even have a single answer before those 8 hours were up. In contrast, this one did have an answer posted about an hour after the question was posted, and it did end up in HNQ.

Since the calculation of the hotness score takes into account question age, it becomes increasingly harder to get it onto the list the older the question gets. So, community wiki questions can get onto the Hot Network Questions (after all, this one did), but they need quick answers and upvotes to get there.

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  • At the time this answer was written, the last 3 photo contests at PSE were Cats, Food, and Music. Not exactly inspiring or engaging topics (even though, as you note, Music did make HNQ). Contrast to Typography, which produced a lot more interesting submissions, more question votes, and hit HNQ within 8 hours. Bottom line, I had the tools to research my question before I asked it, but obviously didn't. =)
    – scottbb
    Aug 26 at 18:01
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As mentioned in This answer whether or not an answer is CW has no effect on it reaching the HNQ (unless that answer is outdated).

From what I can tell, there are three possibilities for why these newer questions aren’t reaching HNQ

  1. you changed something else about these questions that caused them to be disqualified (check the list I linked to earlier to see what might have caused it). This can be fixed by not doing that thing
  2. the newer questions haven’t been “hot” enough to make it to the HNQ. This one isn’t really a problem, just chance related.
  3. The answer I linked to earlier is wrong/outdated. This can be fixed:
    • create a burner account and ask all questions from that account (but don’t Mark them CW). This solves the problem of getting reputation that you shouldn’t.
    • Then, if you want the answerers to be able to reputation, you don’t have to do anything more.
    • However, if you don’t want the answerers to earn reputation, you can require them to mark their answers as CW (write that requirement into the question), and have a moderator (you can do it yourself in this case) make the answers that aren’t submitted as CW into a CW.

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