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I noticed that the question 'Isomorphism class of the zero module is not a set' on Mathematics SE was removed from the HNQ by a moderator, but curiously there is no entry in the timeline for when it entered the HNQ.

I went through the following related posts here on Meta SE, and it seems that the tool to remove a question from the HNQ is activated once a question has entered the HNQ at least once, and remains activated for up to 72 hours:

But, can it also be used to pre-emptively remove a question from the HNQ? If not, why is there no event created in the timeline of the linked post on Mathematics for when it entered the HNQ?


Perhaps I should add that I am aware that certain other restrictions also prevent a question from reaching the HNQ (or kick it out if it's already there), such as MathJax in the title, or closure. So, while I chose a broad title for this post, perhaps unwisely, my interest is in how the moderator tool for removing a post from the HNQ was able to be used without it entering the HNQ in the first place, apparently.

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2 Answers 2

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Yes and no.

As you can see from the timeline of this question, I was able to remove this very question from the Hot Network Questions (for science), even though 1) it wasn't hot at the moment 2) Meta Stack Exchange does not even have Hot Network Questions. The option to remove this question from HNQ was not shown in the mod menu, but it's rather easy to mock the call to the server, and apparently there is no server side check (other than me being a moderator here). That may be a .

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As @AndrewT noticed, sciencing this is even easier on other sites. The option is already shown (even for questions younger than 8 hours old) but disabled:

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It's rather easy to enable this option via the developer tools of your browser and the call to remove the HNQ is made. (On Meta Stack Exchange it required me to write some rather simple jQuery.)

These two options are just possible ways this could happen; I have no idea what actually happened. What is curious is that the removal happened 8 hours minus 4 minutes after posting the question, because a question can only become hot 8 hours after posting.

It would be rather hard to check whether the question actually reached HNQ status even while the corresponding timeline entry is missing, but coincidentally, I have a script running every three minutes which downloads the complete Hot Network Questions list. I checked the results for November 18th but I could not find it, so I assume it never hit the list.

Do moderators have the ability to pre-emptively remove questions from the HNQ?

Not by design, but there are a couple of ... not-always-appropriate ... options which make sure a question does not reach HNQ status:

  • Close the question (but regular users can do this too)
  • Edit the title so that it includes MathJax or certain keywords (but regular users can do this too)
  • Delete the question
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    Interesting that you were able to remove even this question from the HNQ. Perhaps it's a bug, or perhaps Asaf has some hitherto unknown skills. :) Dec 2, 2021 at 9:47
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    I mean, isn't jQuery just applied mathematics? :-)
    – Cody Gray
    Dec 2, 2021 at 9:49
  • Why every three minutes? Isn't the whole list only calculated every 15 minutes, resulting in your list having 5x duplicate data? Dec 2, 2021 at 18:17
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    @SonictheAnonymousHedgehog if Shog9 says it's refreshed every three minutes, who am I to question him?
    – Glorfindel Mod
    Dec 2, 2021 at 18:39
  • Ah, so the 15 minute is per-site, and sites are on different 3-minute intervals of the 15 minutes? Dec 2, 2021 at 18:41
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    The mod in question answered just now that they were just testing if preemptive removal was possible and they would have anyway removed it since they answered it. Dec 2, 2021 at 19:56
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The only way I know of to prevent a question from reaching HNQ is closing it.

And yes, moderator can do that.

So while the answer to the direct question is a "no", since the ability to remove a question from HNQ is relevant only after the question is already there, there is other way for a moderator to prevent a question from reachin HNQ in the first place. (By closing it.)

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    True, closing a question would count as a pre-emptive action, but I'm specifically asking about the moderator tool, whose usage creates an event in the timeline of the post. Dec 2, 2021 at 9:37
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    Before mods were given the tool to remove questions from the HNQ it wasn't unusual to block a question by editing MathJax into the title. Sometimes the MathJax improved the title, but I've also seen a mod edit invisible MathJax into a title...
    – PM 2Ring
    Dec 2, 2021 at 10:54

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