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As of recently, moderators have the ability to remove a CR question from the HNQ list.

There are times when the hotness formula selects a question that a site would rather not have featured. Up until now, the only recourse that was available was to close the question (which may be appropriate anyway but isn't ideal when done purely to manage traffic), or to do nothing. We're putting the power in the hands of our moderators to remove questions that don't set a good example for their sites. I recommend each site have a meta discussion with guidance for moderators about when - if ever - a question should be removed.

I think this is great news, as a number of gray-area posts have made it to the HNQ before, and more will likely happen again in the future.

IMO posts that don't reflect the high quality of the site, that aren't examplary specimens of what a great CR question looks like, should be kicked off the list - the idea being, we want to use the HNQ to drive traffic, yes, but not at the cost of examplifying poor questions that happen to get a few votes and answers in a short amount of time.

What do you think? When should moderators use their powers to move a question out of the HNQ list (knowing it can't get back on afterwards)? Should moderators intervene at all?

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  • \$\begingroup\$ How do other sites handle this? Is there a specific reason moderators got this ability in the first place? \$\endgroup\$ – Mast Mar 12 at 13:23
  • \$\begingroup\$ The linked question doesn't explain much. It states "In general, we recommend that you exclude questions that attract negative attention to your sites, that is, questions that are controversial, start large amounts of debate or arguments or even edit wars.", which gives a policy. But if that's the policy, what do we need this question for? It will be a case-by-case basis anyway. Or do you suggest a policy? \$\endgroup\$ – Mast Mar 12 at 13:30
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Mast I'm pretty sure it will be a case-by-case basis, but we might want to think of some possible scenarios in which we would want to remove a question from HNQ. \$\endgroup\$ – Simon Forsberg Mar 12 at 13:35
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Mast I recommend each site have a meta discussion with guidance for moderators about when - if ever - a question should be removed. -- that's all there is to it. It's a discussion, to discuss. I remember a certain bad "optimize redundant if-else" post that went HNQ and got votes beyond measure for no reason at all other than hitting HNQ. The question wasn't close-worthy bad, but gray-area enough to set the wrong impression of what it is that a good CR question looks like. That kind of thing. \$\endgroup\$ – Mathieu Guindon Mar 12 at 13:53
  • \$\begingroup\$ If you got a link with that, that could be the start of a good answer. \$\endgroup\$ – Mast Mar 12 at 13:54
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    \$\begingroup\$ @SimonForsberg To answer that, I think we would need to reflect on what past scenarios have we needed to remove a question from HNQ for? Are there any common ones, or is it case-by-case? Personally, I trust all of our mods (including yourself) enough to make those judgement calls, HNQ isn't exactly a "critical" thing. If one gets removed that the community felt shouldn't be, well...that's life. Things happen. I don't see a need to legislate this too far. \$\endgroup\$ – Der Kommissar Mar 12 at 14:29
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    \$\begingroup\$ Not an answer although trying to form my thoughts into one. My only concern is if the tool is used without any quality guideline. I hate php - bam. beginner - No HNQ for you. (The latter is a tag that often has both bad questions and HNQ questions) Will this be our guide for what is allowed to stay? \$\endgroup\$ – bruglesco Mar 12 at 16:32
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What do you think? When should moderators use their powers to move a question out of the HNQ list (knowing it can't get back on afterwards)? Should moderators intervene at all?

Well, I think you really nailed the point with (emphasis mine):

IMO posts that don't reflect the high quality of the site, that aren't examplary specimens of what a great CR question looks like, should be kicked off the list - the idea being, we want to use the HNQ to drive traffic, yes, but not at the cost of examplifying poor questions that happen to get a few votes and answers in a short amount of time.

Absolutely! HNQ is an advertisement for the site, whether the site wanted it or not. When something hits HNQ, traffic jumps, and people look at that as an example of what is considered "good" for the site. Not to self-advertise, but this question was first posted on Electrical Engineering, hit HNQ, answered by several folks, and then migrated to Mechanics. The question we have to ask ourselves: how much of that do we want?

I don't recall HNQ being much of a problem, but a new tool on the mod-belt is a good thing. I personally think it's 100% a judgement call of our moderators (after all, if the community wants it gone, we would likely VTC or ping a mod to migrate it, depending on what is appropriate). We elected the mods, we trust them, so, personally, I think it's just fine to let them do their job and make the call as to whether a mod should manually remove it or not, without closure. I think our guidance there should be "you are a valued member of the site too, do what feels right."

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I'm not sure I agree with giving the green light to what you've posted:

IMO posts that don't reflect the high quality of the site, [...], should be kicked off the list

\$\therefore\$ HNQ should only contain high quality questions.

You have also said 'poor' and 'grey' post shouldn't be on the HNQ.

we want to use the HNQ to drive traffic, yes, but not at the cost of examplifying poor questions

[...]

a number of gray-area posts have made it to the HNQ before, and more will likely happen again in the future.

This leaves me to question what you think should be on the HNQ.

Below is my understanding of the quality spectrum of questions:

  • High quality question.
    One that has little to no problems. (I.E. Good description, well defined code)
  • Medium quality question.
    One that has some problems. (I.E. Good description, but we don't have the entire context surrounding the code)
  • Low quality question.
    One that has a lot of problems. (I.E. Poor/no description, code is missing context.)

Below is my understanding of the 'topic' spectrum of questions:

  • On-topic.
    One that is undoubtedly not off-topic.
  • Grey question.
    One that may or may not be on-topic depending on how flexible you wish to be with the close reasons.
  • Off-topic question.
    One that isn't on-topic on Code Review.

You've explicitly mentioned 'grey', 'poor' (low quality) and 'high quality' questions. But I'm not sure I understand what you want to remove and don't want to remove.

If a grey high-quality question were posted, Function to print command-line usage for a program meta, and we start a discussion saying it's grey should it be on or off the HNQ?

If an on-topic medium-quality question were posted1 should that be allowed on the HNQ? (What you've said I interpret to mean no it should not.)


I think off-topic and low quality questions should be removed from the HNQ bar. This is as promoting these actively harm the site.

Since medium quality questions are the norm, I think, promoting these won't harm the site. And so what is the reasoning for removing these?
This will mean people post more medium quality questions. However we can improve the quality of these independently from HNQ. Some questions can be fixed by editing the question to improve wording, other questions you can comment requesting the missing information.
And so I think improving the average of the site is how to fix this.

A question being on-topic doesn't say anything about whether the question should or shouldn't be on the HNQ bar. As the question could be low or high quality.

It's hard to say whether a grey question being in the HNQ is unquestionably bad for the site.

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    \$\begingroup\$ It's hard to say whether a grey question is unquestionably bad for the site. - if the answer to "do we want more of those?" is "meh, better not", then hitting HNQ is likely more harmful than beneficial. Odds are, most questions worth eyeballs are good questions with a positive score, and achieving HNQ wouldn't be bad. But it's happened before, that an "ok" question went out of control after hitting HNQ, and that sends the message that great CR questions look just like that, and that's wrong IMO. \$\endgroup\$ – Mathieu Guindon Mar 12 at 18:05
  • \$\begingroup\$ A question being on-topic doesn't say anything about whether the question should or shouldn't be on the site. -- uh, off-topic questions shouldn't be on the site, what am I missing? \$\endgroup\$ – Mathieu Guindon Mar 12 at 18:06
  • \$\begingroup\$ @MathieuGuindon Do you think that the example I gave of a grey high-quality question doesn't deserve eyeballs? Also, I have defined the terms I use to reduce ambiguity, it seems like you're using 'grey' as both 'low quality' and 'grey' in my answer. Something being two things at once makes it hard to know what your meaning is, hence my answer. \$\endgroup\$ – Peilonrayz Mar 12 at 18:18
  • \$\begingroup\$ @MathieuGuindon Ah I use "site" rather than HNQ. My bad. :) \$\endgroup\$ – Peilonrayz Mar 12 at 18:21
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Peilonrayz FWIW I trust our mods to make those decisions, because they all have experience here, and care about the site. Obviously we want questions in HNQ, but we only want good questions in HNQ. If a question makes us look bad, or makes our standard-of-quality look low, I think it should go, and I trust mods to do that. \$\endgroup\$ – Der Kommissar Mar 12 at 21:06
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    \$\begingroup\$ @DerKommissar I too trust that the mods will try to make us not look bad in the HNQ. I know they want what's best for the site like most high-rep users. However the OP doesn't inspire me with trust that they'd do it a way I'd agree with. Removing average questions from HNQ because they're not 'high-quality' is one such thing. \$\endgroup\$ – Peilonrayz Mar 12 at 21:28
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Peilonrayz I think the question was meant to gauge what type of "guidance" we offer the mods, and personally, I think we have mods that are not only intelligent enough, but also invested in the site enough to make the right choice without guidance. The community isn't huge, we keep things pretty tight, so if a mod does accidentally blow one away we will have more than ample opportunities to suggest changes to the guidance, but I'd rather not get strict with it too soon -- let us see how it works first. \$\endgroup\$ – Der Kommissar Mar 12 at 21:31
  • \$\begingroup\$ @DerKommissar I don't see how my answer is anymore 'strict' than Mat suggested in the OP. I saw what I think is a couple of error with the general cases Mat presented and want to make sure that the mods have thought about that too. Hopefully so there's a lower chance a mod makes an error that blows up. \$\endgroup\$ – Peilonrayz Mar 12 at 22:11
  • \$\begingroup\$ I think that off-topic and low quality questions should not be removed from the HNQ - they should instead be closed. Closed questions are ineligible for HNQ, but low-quality questions could be improved to the point that they become HNQ-worthy - and the removal is not reversible AIUI. \$\endgroup\$ – Toby Speight Mar 13 at 15:27
  • \$\begingroup\$ @TobySpeight No off-topic questions still can be on the HNQ. Why should we close low quality posts that aren't off-topic? Where do we draw the line? \$\endgroup\$ – Peilonrayz Mar 13 at 15:29
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Peilonrayz - I conflated two things: we downvote low-quality and vote-to-close off-topic. Sorry about that. It's the "grey area" posts that might need moderator attention to hide them from HNQ. \$\endgroup\$ – Toby Speight Mar 13 at 15:31
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    \$\begingroup\$ @TobySpeight It's all good, it's the reason I posted my answer, to ensure that the mods too don't conflate things. I don't think "grey" posts are necessarily bad in the HNQ bar, as the 'grey high-quality' post I would allow in the HNQ bar. Grey questions should be reviewed on a per question basis IMO, and not be discriminated against with regards to the HNQ. \$\endgroup\$ – Peilonrayz Mar 13 at 15:37
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What do you think? When should moderators use their powers to move a question out of the HNQ list (knowing it can't get back on afterwards)? Should moderators intervene at all?

Considering the tool has been made available to fight crap, to prevent bad questions from casting a bad light on the various sites, I'd say the tool should in most cases be reserved for those cases. However, since crap should be closed most of the time anyway, I don't see a lot of use for it. There are probably going to be situations where it's useful, but not many.

Considering the above, and that HQN is not unimportant in driving traffic to our site, I'd argue it's preferred to reserve usage of this tool for cases where not using it would do immediate damage to the site. We've had controversial questions before and IMO none of them would have to be removed from HNQ. The bad ones that don't warrant close votes usually get downvoted enough not to get it on HNQ in the first place.

Something that I expect to see some controversy over is whether questions containing NSFW terms (like this) should be removed. But I vaguely recall they have been blocked from HNQ earlier already by Shog.

When in doubt, leave it be.

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