So I found a comment to an old Space.SE question that made an odd claim. The claim seems far-fetched yet strangely compelling. At the time, Organic Marble responded

citation needed

which made me roll over in laughter. In all the research I've done asking and answering questions, I've never come across anything related to the claim. Yet my curiosity is killing me, maybe someone in the Space.SE community has the answer, and I'd like to formally ask it as a question.

The problem is, it is a poop-related question. You know this will put it on the Hot Network Questions list. Even if one doesn't visit the HNQ page, every SE site puts HNQs in the right margin of each question page. So some poor sap reading StackOverflow at work will get chewed out by his boss for reading a page with "poop" content.

Is there a way to mark or configure a question so it cannot be placed on the HNQ list?

I am looking for an answer that is more than "Don't ask the question." I have tried to make the title of the prospective question as boring as possible.

  • $\begingroup$ There are zillions of FAQ's listed in FAQ for Stack Exchange sites but nothing about HNQs yet. I think that's what's needed. According to this post at least at the time it was written, moderators can blacklist individual questions, so there's that. $\endgroup$ – uhoh May 2 at 8:56

Moderators have the ability to do so, but so far as I know, a normal user can't request that of a question. If you feel it is getting poor attention, flag it after you ask it and we can make it so.


The formula shown here is from 2010 and is used by the software that triggers HNQness:

(MIN(AnswerCount, 10) * QScore) / 5 + AnswerScore
         MAX(QAgeInHours + 1, 6) ^ 1.4

I don't know of a push-button block HNQ method for users, but there are obviously some ways to make pretty sure it won't happen.

Don't attract up votes or answers... at first

The numerator is based on votes and number of answers

Suppressing QScore (up votes minus down votes on the question?) will lower the probability of the question from going HNQ. Asking so as to not encouraging answers that attract up votes will as well.

So for example, destroying readers' life-long romanticization of the Apollo missions by causing them to imagine half-naked, smelly men with their space suits around their ankles pooping in buckets might be a good way of doing this. Doing so could cause them to down vote your question, thereby assisting in the HNQ suppression.

Considering that the denominator rises quickly with time, you can edit your question in five or six hours thereby allowing them to reverse their down votes.

Indirect voter suppression

Post at a time when there will be few readers on the site for the next five hours while the denominator maxes out.

Post then cache your question for 5 hours

Since the denominator is such a strong function of time, if you post your question properly, then delete it for five hours, I believe that you can max-out the denominator while the question remain hidden from view.

I don't think it matters when you un-delete.

  • $\begingroup$ I like the post-delete-wait-undelete idea. I'm not sure 5 hours is long enough. Apparently posts older than 72 hours are automatically ineligible for the list, so I think 72 hours is the ideal waiting time. $\endgroup$ – DrSheldon May 4 at 19:23
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    $\begingroup$ My concern with the "trick" is that any person with edit privileges could do it to another person's question. IMHO, only moderators and the original asker ought to be allowed to do such a thing. I don't mind you knowing the trick; you're trustworthy and I doubt you'd mess with another person's post. $\endgroup$ – DrSheldon May 4 at 22:42
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    $\begingroup$ @DrSheldon oh, if that's the case, then let's clean up these comments. $\endgroup$ – uhoh May 4 at 22:47

In addition to the issue of "how" discussed in other answers here, there is also an issue of "who". In my opinion, this should only be done by two categories of people:

  • The person asking the question. I would suggest using the post-delete-wait-undelete method described by @uhoh. Include a comment that you are putting your own question on hold to keep it off the HNQ list.

  • Moderators. That's what they're for. Click the "flag" button, choose "in need of moderator intervention", and explain what you need.

If it's not your question, you're not a moderator, the question is otherwise okay for asking on Space.SE, and the question would be an issue with the wider SE community:

  • Flag the question for moderator intervention. Ask to keep it off the HNQ list.

  • Don't answer the question for its first 72 hours. Questions older than this aren't eligible for HNQ anyway.

  • You could downvote, but the idea here is that the question is otherwise okay.

  • Don't modify another person's question with the intent to sabotage it; that's just not ethical.


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