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As you may know, when returning to HNQ, IPS has decided to limit itself to one HNQ question at a time (source: Let's go back to HNQ!).

It has been quite some time now (6 months) and I believe that things are doing fine. In my opinion, all the most recent HNQ questions where handle nicely by the community without any major incident.

That's why I'm asking: Do we want to increase our HNQ limit to two?


What would it mean concretely?

Currently, with only one HNQ question at a time, we are sometimes on HNQ and sometimes not.

When we are one HNQ, the HNQ question has more activity, but the rest of the site as well. This means that, between two HNQ questions, we have some "quiet days" where the site is running slow.

With a limit of 2 HNQ questions, we probably wouldn't have those "quiet days" anymore (because I am expecting that we would have, at least, one question on HNQ at all times).

Having more activity means having more interesting questions and quality answers, but it also means more stuff to moderate.

So, what I'm asking is:

Are we ready to moderate more in exchange for more activity?

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  • Linked question to this one is: with the recent events, is this a proper time-frame? – OldPadawan Nov 18 '19 at 15:14
  • @OldPadawan Every other site allows 5 questions and we are already allowing one, so why would this be an issue? – Ael Nov 18 '19 at 15:59
  • The fact that we have "quiet days" means that on those days there are no questions hot enough to make HNQ. I wouldn't expect that increasing the number of concurrent questions will change that. – Rainbacon Nov 18 '19 at 16:54
  • @Rainbacon From my observations, if a question can't go to HNQ at the start (because of the limit), its "hotness" will "rapidly" decrease and, when the spot is finally free (like one day later), it's too late for this specific question to be HNQ (who, otherwise, would have been on HNQ for three whole days). – Ael Nov 18 '19 at 16:58
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    My first inclination was to say that we rely too much on the mods to delete things for us, so I went looking for data to back that up. What I found is that since the start of October, we have had 16 question hit HNQ. On those questions, we've had a total of 119 answers, with nearly 40% (47 total answers) deleted. Of those 47 deleted answers, just 36% (17 answers) were deleted by someone with a diamond. Note that I did not count answers where one of the mods cast the 3rd delete vote as being deleted by a mod. – Rainbacon Nov 19 '19 at 22:02
  • May I ask what does HNQ stand for? For my life I can't figure it out. I am the worst when it comes to acronyms. – Mykazuki Nov 22 '19 at 5:34
  • @Mykazuki Hot Network Question – Ael Nov 22 '19 at 10:16
  • @Ælis thanks!!!! – Mykazuki Nov 22 '19 at 15:13
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    I really miss seeing IPS on the HNQ. I look at the featured HNQ list on every stackexchange page that I visit, and it is so rare that IPS has an entry there. Even if IPS has a hot question, the chance of it being chosen for the rather small selection for display in the sidenav is so small that it shows up only 1 in 10 times. I can't speak for the moderation aspects of such a change, but I want more IPS in HNQ :) – kscherrer Jan 20 at 16:15
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tl;dr

Let's wait just a bit

Some Data

I left a comment with some data in it yesterday, and I'd like to expand on that a bit. The text of the comment in case it gets deleted at some point:

My first inclination was to say that we rely too much on the mods to delete things for us, so I went looking for data to back that up. What I found is that since the start of October, we have had 16 question hit HNQ. On those questions, we've had a total of 119 answers, with nearly 40% (47 total answers) deleted. Of those 47 deleted answers, just 36% (17 answers) were deleted by someone with a diamond. Note that I did not count answers where one of the mods cast the 3rd delete vote as being deleted by a mod.

In my eyes, the most important factor in choosing to add more question to HNQ is how well equipped the community is to moderate those questions and answers. We have some excellent moderators here, but the bulk of the moderation burden needs to fall on people without diamonds.

As of today (Nov 20th) we have been back on HNQ for exactly 6 months. As a gauge of how the community is doing at moderating, I took a look at some deletion stats for our first month-ish (5-6 weeks and 16 questions in total) back on HNQ and our most recent month-ish (again 5-6 weeks and 16 questions in total). So here are the stats

First Monthish

  • 16 HNQ questions
  • 104 total answers on HNQ questions
  • 43 answers deleted on HNQ questions
  • 5 answers on HNQ questions deleted by someone with a diamond

Last Monthish

  • 16 HNQ questions
  • 119 total answers on HNQ questions
  • 47 answers deleted on HNQ questions
  • 17 answers on HNQ questions deleted by someone with a diamond

Note: deleted by diamond does not include cases where a moderator cast a delete vote in a situation where a single additional delete vote from a non-moderator would have also deleted the answer


Numbers Are Fun, What Do They Mean?

Great, so what does this mean? The first thing that jumps out in this statistic is the fact that in the first month we deleted ~40% of the posted answers, but only 11% of all the answers deleted were deleted by mods, but in the most recent month, while still deleting ~40% of the answers, 36% of those answers deleted were done by mods.

There are a few reasons why a mod might unilateraly delete an answer

  • It is obviously spam or rude (a single spam/rude flag from a mod will delete the answer)
  • The mod has gone rogue (spoiler alert: none of our mods have gone rogue)
  • The answer has a lot of upvotes, so it can't be deleted by the community
  • The mod cast a delete vote because the answer didn't meet our quality standards

I can say based on several conversations I've had with mods in chat that they are all quite judicious with their votes. The 4th scenario is unlikely to happen because they try to avoid casting a delete vote unless the answer is upvoted and they've received a sufficient number of flags pointing out the quality issues it has. Spam and rude posts have no place on this site, and mods nuking them on sight is a good thing. I already mentioned that our mods have not gone rogue, which just leaves the third bullet point.

In my opinion, the amount of posts that get lots of upvotes and then subsequently must be deleted by mods is the key metric. When I gathered my data, I didn't count up what kinds of posts where being deleted (spam, rude, lots of upvotes but no backup, etc...), so I can't say for sure how much of an uptick there was in this metric from the first month to the last month, but I don't think we've deleted that many more spam/rude posts over the last month than we did the first month. That means that we likely have more answers collecting upvotes and then requiring a diamond to be deleted. That (to me) indicates that we're not doing as good of a job as a community of staying on top of HNQ questions in order to ensure that answers meet our standards.

One last point and a recommendation

Most of the answers that we delete on HNQ questions are deleted because they lack backup. There's been a some discussion on Meta recently about how we apply that policy to older posts. This has led to the moderators deciding that we should try some new strategies for applying this policy. I don't know that a decision has been reached yet as to what those changes will be. Given that we appear to be slipping in our ability to moderate HNQ and there are discussions in the works to improve how we handle answers without backup, I think that we should hold off on increasing our number of concurrent HNQ questions for the time being.

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  • Thanks for delving into the data and generating this wonderful report! The numbers were definitely interesting. – Lux Claridge Nov 22 '19 at 14:27
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    hey, is it time to take a look again? I really miss seeing IPS in the HNQ. – kscherrer Jan 24 at 12:06
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I was under the impression that we were already allowing more than one question to hit HNQ; goes to show how well I read posts...

I think that the last 6 months have been great vis-à-vis HNQ questions. However, I will note that it only seemed like the last 3-4 months were the ones to actually have HNQ. I think increasing the limit would be good for the site.

My only hesitation is that I notice an astounding increase in question closures whenever a question becomes an HNQ. Increasing the limit will probably lower the quality in questions/answers overall. More site activity is great and all, but only when it's good quality content IMO.

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  • "I notice an astounding increase in question closures whenever a question becomes an HNQ" I'm unsure about that: a quick search made me realize that upon the ten latest HNQ questions we had, only one got closed ... And it was really broad. This rather seems like quite a prowess given the steep learning rope of our site. But you're right, raising the threshold for HNQ would probably lead to more closed questions. – avazula Nov 20 '19 at 9:50
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    I think the steeper learning curve is for answers. Increasing the number of HNQ questions definitely increases the number of deleted answers. – Rainbacon Nov 20 '19 at 18:00

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