# Hot or not; Tweak the Top Questions list to discard poor questions

I do not think it should be included in the Top Questions list. Also, notice the `[closed]` question above it! That being said, I think the algorithm needs an update, at least to reflect that some questions are poor fits for the site:

1. If the question has a score greater than N votes, include it, else,

2. If the question is closed, do not include it.

3. If the question has more than 3 close votes, do not include it.

4. If the question has a score of less than 0 votes and if there are no answers, do not include it.

Screenshots:

• If you listed some things you wanted to change with the algorithm, then it would be a feature-request. But as it is, reads like support – random May 2 '12 at 1:05
• @random Thanks. I could come up with a few suggestions. – iglvzx May 2 '12 at 1:05

## Example:

(I totally disregard that age isn't just integers. It'll probably only get worse for very recent questions)

Works as designed. It's just the algo that sucks.

• Very recent questions are hot by design
• Getting some views is better than some score and answers
• Question score doesn't matter if there are no answers

Unsurprising, since the algorithm was designed with SO's traffic and voting and answering behavior in mind.

Let's see...

• `ln(13)*4+(1*1/5)+1` divided by `1.35` is about `8.5`
• `ln(79000)*4+(326*2/5)+679)` divided by `(33-((32-20)/2)^1.5)` is about `31.7`

Now that one I don't get... unless `Qage` and `Qupdated` are measured in minutes, resulting in hotness scores of `0.55` and `0.54`, respectively, making younger question much hotter using this scoring. Clearly, the rules aren't made with our rather slow uptake of question scores and views in mind.

## Update 2

In case you wondered about the following:

These are the numbers (`Qage` and `Qupdated` really are in minutes):

• Three hours old, 0 score, 0 answers, 16 views:

`(ln(16)+(0*0/5)+0)/(180-((180-180)/2)^1.5) = 0.15403`

• Five days old, 93k views, 437 score, three answers with 861 combines score:

`(ln(93729)+(3*437/5)+861)/(7680-((7680-7410)/2)^1.5) = 0.150384`

Clearly, age is way overemphasized in the algorithm. That it doesn't have minimum values for score, answer count, or views is also a problem.

• From my experience, "bad" questions attract just as many views as good ones (and definitely more than the average ones). As a start, views should only be taken into account if the post has no negative score. Especially when there are no answers. – slhck May 2 '12 at 12:01
• As a contrived example, a 55 views topic with no answers and arbitrary (e.g. negative) score is slightly hotter than a 12 views, 5 score topic with 2 answers, scored +3 and +1 created at the same time. – Daniel Beck May 2 '12 at 12:02
• Unit of time is mostly relevant for edits, when `Qupdated` != `Qage`, but because of the `+1` zero-division protection, it'll also affect recent topics very strongly (`1+1 : 1` is very different from `60+1 : 60`). – Daniel Beck May 2 '12 at 19:14

There is a specific formula which determines the hotness score.

``````(log(Qviews)*4) + ((Qanswers * Qscore)/5) + sum(Ascores)
--------------------------------------------------------
((Qage+1) - ((Qage - Qupdated)/2)) ^ 1.5
``````

I'm really not sure how that one got selected. Could be a bug.

• Easy: If there are no answers, the score doesn't matter. What's left is the views divided by a very small divisor, as with all very recent posts high up on the (not so) hot list. – Daniel Beck May 2 '12 at 8:01
• @DanielBeck that doesn't really make sense. If `Qanswers` is 0, then then that whole term of the equation is 0, and `sum(Ascores)` is also 0, so the overall score should be lower than if there were answers, because the numerator is going to be smaller. – nhinkle May 2 '12 at 8:24
• Check out the screenshot with three very recent questions being considered hot. Due to their very little age, it doesn't matter that they get all their hotness from their views. I just explained why the negative score isn't relevant, since the user didn't highlight the other 0 score or 0 answer topics in the screenshot. – Daniel Beck May 2 '12 at 9:04
• @DanielBeck ah, I see better what you mean now. Thanks for showing that. The hotness algorithm does tend to be... pretty bad. – nhinkle May 2 '12 at 16:32