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I'm seeing a tendency in this SE: the questions we land on the Hot Network Questions (HNQ) list tend to be closed (either as too broad or duplicates).

We know from Meta some details about HNQs, see:

Basically, catching questions are more likely to land in the HNQs list than technical or intricate questions.

Also, the more a HNQ stay in the list, the more views it gathers (and this is a feedback mechanism, that's why some questions stay for days in the list). So it's a good mechanism to bring views (and new users) to a site.

Thing is, closed questions are removed from the list. Therefore we are loosing a bit of exposure having these questions closed (and having a question from a site penalizes other questions from the same site incrementally).

Is there something we can do to take advantage of HNQs to help the site prosper? Or is this just one more detail that applies specifically to the CV community?

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    $\begingroup$ (1) Simple question gather attention, since many people are able to answer it. (2) I guess, people often open the "possibly off topic" question to cast votes, so low-quality questions get the attention at the beginning. I can't see any problem in here. $\endgroup$
    – Tim Mod
    Oct 27, 2017 at 12:21
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    $\begingroup$ @Tim neither do I. I'm trying to think of a strategy around the HNQs to improve the site exposure. $\endgroup$
    – Firebug
    Oct 27, 2017 at 12:23
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    $\begingroup$ You know why CodeGolf lands many HNQs? They have a question playground (the "sandbox"), so users can improve the puzzles (and pre-formulate their answers). When the question is posted, there are several answers ready to be posted. The number of answers improve a question "hotness" (capped at 10). $\endgroup$
    – Firebug
    Oct 27, 2017 at 12:24
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    $\begingroup$ I think our site has already 'caught on'. We have been growing steadily for a while; I don't think we really need any extra help from the HNQs. In general, it wouldn't hurt, but I think getting a lot of exposure for low quality questions (eg, too broad) might well hurt. We already get too many poor questions. $\endgroup$ Oct 27, 2017 at 12:54
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    $\begingroup$ Similar issues occur in a number of other stackexchange sites -- it's often poor questions in one sense or another that tend to be popular enough to hit the HNQ list $\endgroup$
    – Glen_b
    Oct 27, 2017 at 12:59
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    $\begingroup$ IMHO, some of our worst threads were on the hot list. They drew attention from people who were wholly unqualified to answer--but tried anyway--and resulted in voting that did not reflect the quality, accuracy, or insight of answers. I therefore would suggest that this sort of "exposure" might not be something to be desired. $\endgroup$
    – whuber Mod
    Oct 27, 2017 at 14:28
  • $\begingroup$ Consider this question: stats.stackexchange.com/questions/310119/…. It has stayed in HNQs for three whole days already and has attracted a good bunch of attention (50 upvotes, 3k views, 4 answers, even what we might describe as a canonical answer). This is good propaganda for our site. Other good questions have been asked in the meantime and also before that one, but didn't achieve HNQ status. Can (should?) we act on that? If we could guarantee our best becomes HNQ we'd also mitigate what @whuber described $\endgroup$
    – Firebug
    Oct 30, 2017 at 12:06
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    $\begingroup$ The one you link to is one of the better questions to end up HNQ. But to be honest, my personal impression is that for every quality CV question that ends up HNQ, there are five to ten that are low quality. I fully agree with @gung and whuber that the traffic these HNQs drive here is not helpful. (Incidentally, I have seen similar things happen with HNQs at Academia.SE, where I used to be active.)... $\endgroup$ Nov 2, 2017 at 22:02
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    $\begingroup$ ... Overall, I'd be happier if the HNQ were killed off completely. It's not a Good New Questions list, not by any stretch of the imagination. The few gold nuggets in the big steaming pile of cr*p unfortunately are not worth the steaming pile. (And recently, it seems to have been taken over by IPS. Which may say something about the kind of people that frequent SO. And I guess I should be happy that every IPS or PCG HNQ takes up one slot that might otherwise showcase a gleaming piece of you-know-what from one of the serious sites, and I'm not using scare quotes around "serious" advisedly.) $\endgroup$ Nov 2, 2017 at 22:06
  • $\begingroup$ Yeah, one can only hope. But in the meantime the HNQ exists, and will keep showcasing bad examples from our community if we do nothing. If we could set up an email feed of CV HNQs maybe we could speed up the trial of these questions, and close the bad ones faster. Unfortunately I have no experience with that. Has anyone tried something similar on other sites? $\endgroup$
    – Firebug
    Nov 3, 2017 at 12:06
  • $\begingroup$ This question was in th HNQ list: stats.stackexchange.com/questions/312119/…. I think it is an interesting question. $\endgroup$ Nov 6, 2017 at 18:23
  • $\begingroup$ We've been getting a stream of good (and technical) questions into the HNQ lately. Did we become more observant or is this just my personal bias? $\endgroup$
    – Firebug
    Nov 7, 2017 at 12:33

1 Answer 1

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I think the fact that poor questions often end up on the Hot Network Questions list may be taken as a given. Indeed, I've had more than a few fairly ordinary answers become popular because they were on questions that hit the list, while (clearly) much better answers on other questions sometimes struggle to get any upvotes at all.

So what to do about the fact that many of them close?

Here's some thoughts

  • a question that should close should still close, so we shouldn't hesitate because it's HNQ. Similarly, less than stellar answers should get the usual actions -- comments, edits, and where necessary downvotes and so forth.

  • however, a closed question can often be improved (and may sometimes reopen as a result), so where we can salvage or improve a question we should do so.

We could perhaps keep an eye out for the questions that may be more likely to hit HNQ (topical, superficially easy to answer, inviting opinion etc) and take action on them as quickly as possible; some may be forestalled but at least the ones that get there anyway have a better chance of being less terrible.

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    $\begingroup$ I concur with your opinion here Glen, and I've been trying to preemptively spot HNQ-"worthy" questions before they hit the HNQ list. I suppose we all keep an eye on CV questions already on list when they appear on the sidebar, so perhaps these are non-issue. The effort should be on preventing bad questions from reaching HNQ status, or keeping it too long. $\endgroup$
    – Firebug
    Nov 8, 2017 at 15:36

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