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Not sure if this has already been discussed. But I observed a peculiar behaviour. This question talks of backpacks and the ones suited for carrying snow shoes and tools. This question speaks of backpacks suited for a tall girl. Both are very specific scenarios. Both have been asked within 24 hours of each other. However, the first one (at the time of writing this question) has 43 views and the second one has shot up to 2k views!

Is there any pattern whatsoever for some questions to get more visibility than others? Do the mods have a way to see what affected certain questions to get higher visibility than others? (Both the questions here are still in the active stack).

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    Great question! I know it has something to do with getting into the Hot Network Questions list on the right hand side of the page, and Charlie was nice enough to confirm that in his answer. However, I've always wondered what that formula is! Thanks for asking! – Sue Saddest Farewell TGO GL Apr 12 '18 at 22:37
  • I also think questions get tweeted, and some of the tweets are more interesting for people. I'm not a tweeter, so I'm not sure of that either. I'd like to hear someone's response to that though. – Sue Saddest Farewell TGO GL Apr 12 '18 at 23:10
  • @Sue Twitter is all but useless for the site – Reinstate Monica Apr 13 '18 at 4:02
  • @Sue This trend was particularly visible yesterday when the two questions I've pointed to were asked. Within a short period of time, the views on the second question grew exponentially while the rest of the questions on our stack continued to have less exposure. And as Charlie pointed out, it's a bit sad that many good questions might not actually get the views that they deserve while some questions (good or average) end up raking up views (BTW, I feel both the questions are really good in this case) – Ricketyship Apr 13 '18 at 6:15
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It has to do with the Hot Network Questions List (see the sidebar on the right side of the site with questions from many different questions from across the SE network).

The "Hotness" of a question is basically,

(sum of Q + A score) / time since asked

Also in order to be considered, a question needs at least one answer.

Once a question hits the list it pulls in more users from across the network who will add more answers and upvotes perpetuating the cycle.

As far as what gets a question onto the list it seems like,

Questions can get huge numbers of views without the HNQ by being useful to a lots of people.

As far as how you can tell the hotness of a particular question there is a user script that will try and estimate it for you. I have found it to be mostly accurate and it looks like this,

enter image description here

As you can see on the right there is a percentage estimator with 0% being not hot and over 33% being hot enough to get onto the list.

As for why this would be useful to know,

  • If you have hit the rep cap from a Q or A on the list, it can give one an idea of how long it will be tell it drops off the list.

  • If you are going for points, hotter questions get more votes. Its kind of sad how one person can post 5 good answers that don't make the list and end up with less rep than a user who only posted one question.

  • If you are trying to clean stuff up to be presentable, the Hot Questions are where a lot of users are going to land.

Tips for making the list,

  • Good descriptive titles.
  • Post it during times when lots of users are around which means during the week and between 6 UTC and 23 UTC and preferably closer to 6-10 UTC. (6 UTC is when the users in India come online and 23 UTC is quitting time in California)
  • Slightly wider topics so more people answer.
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    Is there an algorithm which decides what's an "interesting title"? – Ricketyship Apr 12 '18 at 17:51
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    @Ricketyship see meta.stackexchange.com/questions/60756/… – StrongBad Apr 12 '18 at 18:43
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    @Ricketyship Not really. This extension will try to estimate the hotness in real time gist.github.com/vyznev/bb2c1adb6e96eb65a87bab3822c74e81 – Reinstate Monica Apr 12 '18 at 18:53
  • @StrongBad or someone, can you please give a more detailed explanation of what actually puts the question into the hot list? StrongBad's linked meta post is part of a broader group of questions about the subject, some of which are very old. I had trouble getting through the maze and still didn't understand it. I also don't understand Charlie's extension thing. It's probably my fault. I speak English and a little French, but tech-speak is like Greek to me! – Sue Saddest Farewell TGO GL Apr 12 '18 at 23:08
  • @Sue see updates – Reinstate Monica Apr 13 '18 at 0:20
  • That's great. Thanks for putting in the extra work! – Sue Saddest Farewell TGO GL Apr 13 '18 at 0:26
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What Charlie said and for this example the difference is basically "tall female" / "male or female" compared to "both ice tools and snow-shoes". I can totally see how the latter is less hot, I mean it's even icy.

  • Upvoting this answer made the estimator go from 33% to 40%. This is the selfish reason of why you should upvote all answers you get and also any competing answers to your own :) – Reinstate Monica Apr 12 '18 at 22:42
  • hahaha +1 for the pun. – Ricketyship Apr 13 '18 at 5:32

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