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Though the question rate on this site may be low, it looks like the questions we do get receive a pretty large amount of attention, and nearly every half-decent question makes it to the Hot Network Questions list.

This is just my subjective impression; I have no hard data to support this. Skimming through the question list now though, it seems relatively rare that a question gets fewer than 200 views; this seems unusual, compared with a site like Pets, Parenting or Politics, which one would assume to have a much wider appeal.

Are there any statistics to support or disprove this, and what might be the cause?

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    The cause is obviously that we're awesome. :-p
    – wizzwizz4 Mod
    Feb 13, 2022 at 12:30
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    The overwhelming majority of questions (and thus likely users as well) on SE are on StackOverflow. Almost all of them would have at least a passing interest in the history of computing, or at least a large enough percentage of them compared with many of the other sites (well, OK, maybe Coffee SE!). So there is a large built-in bunch of folks who would be interested.
    – Jon Custer
    Feb 16, 2022 at 19:09
  • @JonCuster Turn that comment into an answer. It is essentially what I was going to answer..until I saw you already wrote it. Feb 16, 2022 at 20:02
  • That would have been my guess too… but truth be told, I wrote this more out of an interest in some statistics comparing the frequency of HNQs across sites. Feb 16, 2022 at 20:17

1 Answer 1

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Besides the fact that Retrocomputing is, indeed, awesome...

Most folks who discover and stay at Stack Exchange are drawn to and use StackOverflow. That means they do computing as a thing, be it study, work, or hobby. And, if they have done it for real, or even are just getting into programming, there seems to me a high likelihood that they had an older computer around, an old gaming system, or encountered stuff back in early school days. Computers are in the average user's DNA, and be it nostalgia or what, a good percentage will come over and check out a Retrocomputing question whether on the HNQ or not. It also means there are a lot of folks around here who (unlike me, sadly) have not forgotten a lot of the gory details of history and can put up high quality answers.

Now, that said, questions on Meta discussing how they get to Hot Network Questions include this and this. This makes it harder to see just why we get many at all appearing. But,

  1. We don't have lots and lots of questions, so further questions avoid the 'too many questions from one site' penalty, and we never hit 5 questions on the HNQ list at any one time.
  2. Questions here (certainly worth-while ones) usually get more than one answer, and the more answers the better hotness score. And it looks like the faster an answer appears the better too.
  3. No MathJax is normally in the title.
  4. Seems unlikely we have a per-site adjustment decreasing our hotness implemented - I can find no mention of that on the local Meta.

My interpretation is we hit a sweet spot in getting a well-spaced flow of good questions that readily get (multiple) good answers resulting in a high hotness score.

Somewhat to my surprise, it appears at least on the surface that the click-through rate for HNQs is not taken into consideration in the algorithm. So, even though there are likely a lot of people addicted to coffee, the Coffee SE may not have the depth of regulars putting up good QA content.

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