3 Answers 3


Very rarely, when absolutely necessary to prevent harm to the site or the community.

I cannot in good faith vote up Jeff Lambert's answer, because I do not want to handcuff the moderators if something outrageous and unusual happens. But, looking through the main-site questions linked in this meta question, I do not see a problem with the way HNQ is currently working. All of those questions look exemplary to me. So far as I can tell, HNQ has, perhaps surprisingly, not caused much actual controversy or the "bad HNQ upvotes" problem seen on other sites, and in fact has showcased some of our finest work to the rest of the network. We should continue writing good questions and answers, and generally let HNQ do its job.

At the same time, I am inclined to trust the site's moderators to use reasonable judgment in exercising their powers. If some bizarre and improbable scenario which I cannot foresee happens, I would prefer that the moderators act immediately to protect the site, with whatever measures are most suitable. I do not seriously anticipate this happening, but I also do not seriously anticipate the moderators abusing their discretion should something happen.

  • When harm is imminent, wouldn't they (or others in community) close the question anyway, thus removing the question from the HNQ without having to use the special HNQ removal option while keeping the question open?
    – JJJ Mod
    Commented Mar 29, 2019 at 17:32
  • 1
    @JJJ: If the question merits closure, then sure. Otherwise, I think you are making assumptions which we cannot and do not know to be true.
    – Kevin
    Commented Mar 29, 2019 at 17:43
  • Can you give an example of an on-topic question that might harm the site or community? Because when that's the case, that almost certainly warrants closure.
    – JJJ Mod
    Commented Mar 29, 2019 at 17:50
  • 1
    @JJJ: No, I cannot. That is why I describe it as a "bizarre and improbable scenario which I cannot foresee." Scenarios which cannot be foreseen are, unsurprisingly, impossible to describe before they have happened.
    – Kevin
    Commented Mar 29, 2019 at 19:50


As a community driven site, this is a hard question. Questions are only supposed to make it on the HNQ list once it has received sufficient votes within a certain time span, and explicitly removing questions from the HNQ after they get on it I think goes against the community. This could exacerbate feelings that moderators are being biased against [insert group of people].

If we're worried that off-topic (but popular) questions make it on to the list, then we should close those questions. As Philipp points out in a comment, closing questions already removes them from the HNQ list. Similarly, if popular but badly worded titles make it on the list, the appropriate response should be to edit the question to make the title more appropriate since the list of questions is displayed network wide.

Quoting from the meta post:

In general, we recommend that you exclude questions that attract negative attention to your sites, that is, questions that are controversial, start large amounts of debate or arguments or even edit wars.

I personally don't feel this is applicable on this site, if a question gets out of hand in the comments then flags will be raised and moderators can lock the post and nuke the comments. I don't feel as some do that Politics.SE should shy away from topics that are controversial (so long as the questions are still at the very least on their face objectively answerable), since so many things in politics these days seem to be controversial. We would just be painting ourselves into an ever smaller box on topics the community as a whole allows.

There is some concern, especially on the subject of politics, that some questions may be upsetting to some users (for instance: this recently deleted meta question, seen here on archive.org for those without access). I don't think there's much we can do about this, given that a question is asked in good faith and isn't being intentionally harmful in how it is constructed. To me it doesn't make much sense to implement a rule where any question about, say, "Communism" or "the Vietnam War" is intentionally excluded from the list of hot questions.

In summary: trust in the community itself and the HNQ algorithm as it is implemented at any given time, and rather than delete questions from the list modify borderline cases in order to make sure Politics.SE isn't intentionally triggering people when they're trying to solve programming problems.

  • 2
    I agree with this. To add to that, this site is still in beta but for a beta it has a very high number of high-rep users, making it easy to close questions as a lot of people moderate the site. In contrast to some other sites the rate of questions is here is very low so I don't think any user here runs out of close votes (which is a problem on other sites). As such, leaving it up to the community is the best and easiest course of action for now (and we can always rethink that when the rate of questions goes up and the number of users to moderate goes down, e.g. when the site graduates).
    – JJJ Mod
    Commented Mar 27, 2019 at 21:30

It might make sense when the question is put on hold (as is currently the case for the two big Brexit questions) or, as a pre-emptive measure, very likely to be put on hold.

  • 3
    Closing a question already removed it from the HNQ list. This used to be a workaround for the problem practiced on some sites (but it's usually overkill). The first question in the list got closed after it became HNQ.
    – Philipp Mod
    Commented Mar 27, 2019 at 10:35

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