Thiings are looking so much better right now. Thank you.

Right now, by looking at the tin (my connection sucks and I can't open every one)

  1. Hidden features of Google -- list of X
  2. What is your most-used web application? -- poll
  3. Returning from a method with implicit or explicit "else" or with a single "return" statement? -- poll(ish) / religious war
  4. How do I do a Barrel Roll? -- okayish, driven up by the barrel roll internet phenomenon?
  5. What should a developer know before building cellphone apps? -- poll
  6. What are some programming games that are out there? -- poll
  7. can we pass arrays as arguments to functions by this syntax, under upcoming c++0x standards ? -- looks fine on the tin
  8. Tools that every Do-it-Yourselfer must own -- list of X
  9. How does implicit typing make code clearer? -- religious war
  10. Date Ubuntu was installed? -- sounds like a question I'd love to read the answer for!

Well, the overall effect is horrible. The guys on chat inform me that "Hidden Features of Google" is closed, locked, caged, drowned, teared apart, etc., and yet is right now the network's business card to new users, advertisers and venture capitalists...


The hotness ranking may be accurate and good at measuring hotness (still, why are closed questions listed at all?!), but it's failing to bring up the quality, expert questions StackExchange is all about.

  • 1
    I was convinced the barrel roll question was a joke post, but it got upvoted so much....
    – Pops
    Commented Aug 6, 2010 at 18:08
  • 3
    @Popular Joke or not, it's actually a legitimate question. We have no strong grounds to remove it unless we start to get plagued with weak questions.
    – Grace Note StaffMod
    Commented Aug 6, 2010 at 18:20
  • @Grace, I know, I eventually read it. I never said it should be removed. (Okay, on second read, I can see how my original comment might look like "I was convinced [it] was a joke [even after I read it]"; this was not the intent.)
    – Pops
    Commented Aug 6, 2010 at 18:24
  • Umm, it's most used web app that's locked.
    – Macha
    Commented Aug 6, 2010 at 22:22
  • 3
    Well, the top Q right now on SE is How can I tell if a corpse is safe to eat?. Tell me that's not the most awesome "business card" possible...
    – detly
    Commented Aug 11, 2010 at 5:32
  • 1
    @detly It could be better, if it came from cooking.
    – Ocaasi
    Commented Aug 11, 2010 at 8:58
  • @Ocaasi - if only.
    – detly
    Commented Aug 11, 2010 at 10:26

5 Answers 5


We had a discussion about this last night in the moderator chat room with David Fullerton, if you have any suggestions on improving the algorithm than please do so.

My first 2 cents would be to take out closed questions and perhaps even community wiki questions.

Also we should let the community suggest a sample of excellent questions, much like we had during the proposal phase, only now based on real questions (per Joel's request).

Also I think it would be a great idea to have this as a question on stats.SE to have them come up with an algorithm that will help us recognize 'good' rather than 'hot' questions.

Update: though I see things improving, it still seems closed questions aren't filtered out!

  • 1
    Can you not sort by hits from Google after you filter out questions that are closed, cw or have "too many" answers?
    – badp
    Commented Aug 6, 2010 at 21:34
  • 3
    You could increase the weight of down and close votes for the ranking algorithm. If, say, at least 2 people voted to close, chances are that it is not such an exemplary good question that you want it on that page. Same with down votes. You might "lose" some legitimate questions this way, but front page space is limited and there are many questions to choose from, so it doesn't matter if some questions get wrongly excluded.
    – sth
    Commented Aug 8, 2010 at 12:31

That they're listed on the SE site base shows new users unfamiliar with the Q&A model what type of questions are so hot right now you're icing your gonads to temper.

It sets up a bad example of the question types that are supposedly wanted and cured by the giving community.

Leads the fresh kills to come along, ask similar and then pout when summarily closed as off-topic, not a real question or subjective/argumentative.

Broken glass everywhere.


Any selection of the most active questions is going to be inherently biased towards generality and popularity. It's the nature of expertise that few people have it. The most active questions on any site are going to be those that don't require much of it. This will include broad, fun, accessible, discussion questions, humor, memes, and entertaining trivia. Inherently. Some of it will be stupid. It's almost guaranteed that they won't reflect "the best" of any site. (A possible exception would be active threads which pit experts against eachother in intense debates).

Rather than focusing on most active questions, the algorithm should focus on questions with specific answers. The easiest way to do that would be cutting community wiki questions out of the algorithm. Another option would be excluding questions with too many comments. I know that's a bit controversial, but most of the stuff that is reputable on these sites happens in an answer.


Bear in mind we're still tweaking the question selection algorithm.

So what you see, is very much a beta at the moment. Don't take the question selection right now as gospel.

(and note even the OP has changed his question to indicate that things are better since he originally posted it)

  • I know. Joel asked for feedback on twitter, so I'm giving mine :)
    – badp
    Commented Aug 6, 2010 at 21:31
  • 7
    Are you saying the prominent link at the top of all the sites shouldn't be working just yet?
    – random
    Commented Aug 7, 2010 at 0:34
  • 2
    I would like to point out that the #1 example question at the moment is How can I tell if a corpse is safe to eat? from gaming. :)
    – Pekka
    Commented Aug 11, 2010 at 9:43
  • Some of the sites are---IMO, of course---ill conceived, so the questions selected from them are bound to be so-so
  • The list appears to be driven by activity, which means that (as always) the popular chaff will make up a lot of it. There is no beating the bikeshed effect.

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