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I am new to this site and I was really surprised by the unusual amount of interest my first question has attracted. Apart from a fair number of answers, tens of comments have been posted; part of them have been deleted, others were moved to chat and some still survive on the original post. The whole lot appeared to be “too much” for mods to deal with and as a consequence the question was “kicked off” the hot network. I didn’t know that an ongoing question could be removed, for whatever reason, from the hot network, but that’s what happened. Now I have two questions if I may:

  1. have other questions been removed from the hot network before, on SE Politics?

  2. I suspect the real reason for the removal was not so much the considerable amount of posts it attracted but the controversial views that were raised with respect to the theme involved creating an undesirable conflicting climate within the community. Am I correct?

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2 Answers 2

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The intended purpose of the Hot Network Questions section on the Stack Exchange network is to lead users to other sites of the Stack Exchange network by showing them the best of the best content those sites have to offer. However, this process is completely automated. The algorithm decides what questions get "hot" primarily on the vote count of the question and its answers. It doesn't get nuance. So it doesn't always succeed at doing so.

Unfortunately (and this is not your fault as the question author!) this particular question failed to show off the best side of our community. It in fact showed off the worst side of our community: Political partisans from different sides of the political spectrum shouting at each other and getting into personal arguments. This is not what this community is for! As the help center says:

Politics Stack Exchange is for objective questions about governments, policies and political processes.

It is not a place to advance opinions or debate, but rather for exchanging objective information about the policies, processes, and personalities that comprise the political arena.

We moderators tried to get this topic under control by removing all these quarrels. But the very mentioning of the word "woke" is unfortunately so polarizing for the users caught up in the US culture war that this was a fight against windmills. So the only way to prevent this question from giving people a wrong impression of this community was to kick it off the hot network question list, so another question can take its place as our current advertisement demo to the the rest of the network.

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    It's not only an issue of suitable for showing off, it's also free extra attention. HNQ simply increases attention and traffic a lot. If the impression is that the extra attention is doing more bad than good, this might also be some kind of valid explanation for kicking a question out of HNQ. Just as an addition. Jan 12, 2023 at 18:45
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    @Trilarion Removing a question from HNQ doesn't necessarily mean we get less traffic. The question gets replaced with the next hot question from our site.
    – Philipp Mod
    Jan 12, 2023 at 19:11
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    I meant the question is getting less traffic. Jan 12, 2023 at 20:06
  • It's unfortunately often difficult to provide information that would be considered objective by both sides, when each side has fundamentally different beliefs about what the facts of reality are.
    – NotThatGuy
    Jan 17, 2023 at 10:42
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    @NotThatGuy - you are right, but a site about politics is only to be expected to generate controversial issues. My final impression is that my question, however controversial it may be, was removed because I’m just a new user. Amen
    – Gio
    Jan 19, 2023 at 11:56
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    @Gio I have no idea what might have lead you to that impression, because it is wrong. I removed controversial questions from HNQ before, without regards for who posted them and how much they used the site before.
    – Philipp Mod
    Jan 19, 2023 at 12:24
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@Philipp's answer quite nicely describes the situation and process.

With currently 582 HNQs under my belt, I'd like to add a personal perspective.

Most are familiar that the concept of "free speech" is not that at all, we are not free to yell "FIRE!" in a crowded movie theatre without "being consequenced" for reasons including those related to public safety (and the ability to enjoy a movie one has paid to see).

There is no "right to excite" in Stack Exchange

Moderation, to misquote/misappropriate Aaron Sorkin channeled by Robe Lowe is the silver bullet. Moderation is everything.

HNQs are fun and helpful when used in moderation, and when that isn't enough, other moderation is necessary.

This is in part because SE is such an open platform.

To hash another one-liner,

HNQs (like driving a car) are not a right, they're a responsibility

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    Yelling "FIRE!" in a crowded movie theatre may be considered a legal restriction on free speech, whereas you don't have free speech in a comparable sense on a privately owned platform like Stack Exchange, which can set its own restrictions about which content is allowed and how it moderates that content. Using Stack Exchange is more like an agreement between private citizens, where they provide a platform for you to use on the condition that you're subject to their rules.
    – NotThatGuy
    Jan 17, 2023 at 11:03
  • "Freedom of speech, but not freedom from consequences of that speech" is very different from "Freedom of speech with restrictions". The latter is something you can face legal consequences for, while the former would include consequences up to getting kicked off a website, getting fired, losing relationships or being called out, which is not infringing on your free speech, but rather it's just other people exercising their freedoms as a response to what you say.
    – NotThatGuy
    Jan 17, 2023 at 11:09
  • The "fire in a crowded theater" argument used to support the prohibition of certain speech is problematic. It is not restricted speech. Instead, it is a time, place, and manner restriction.
    – forest
    Jan 24, 2023 at 11:59

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