In my two and a half months here, I don't believe Christianity.SE has ever had a hot network question, whereas the average site should get at least one every few days. I see several possible reasons for this:

  1. Our site has a much lower vote-to-view ratio than average
  2. Our questions attract significantly less answers than average
  3. Our average traffic is down from its historic average, making the per-site adjustment too high
  4. Our site is purposefully excluded from the list

I'm curious as to if anyone knows which reason(s) apply.


2 Answers 2



As of October 5, 2015, the penalty for Christianity on the Network Hot Questions has been removed.

Well, there's a reason for this. The hot network questions algorithm includes adjustments based on feedback such as: I shouldn't have to see a bible study on Stack Overflow. Therefore, Christianity questions must score higher in order to be displayed on the sidebar of other sites. The other, more justifiable, reason is that hot network questions can be extremely disruptive to a site that's less well understood on Stack Overflow.

Currently, the sites being penalized are:

  • Stack Overflow
  • Programmers
  • The Workplace
  • Christianity

Stack Overflow generates more questions than the rest of the network combined, so it would dominate the list without a penalty. The other three sites on that list share a problem with non-obvious voting cultures. Since anyone with at least 200 reputation on Stack Overflow can create a voting account on any other site, there's a strong possibility that people will vote up answers they agree with rather than answers that accurately describe the position of the tradition the question is asking about. Early on in the history of the site, users engaged in "vote contests" that undermined the answers that reflected the point of view being asked about.

Now, I'm not sure if the penalty is still necessary for this site. It probably was a good idea when people were asking:

Can an atheist go to heaven?

But it might not be so helpful if current questions are phrased more like:

According to Roman Catholicism, is it a sin to vote for pro-choice politicians?

The difference is that the former is practically click bait and the later is a question clearly confined to a particular point of view.

  • 3
    Very helpful, thank you. Last month, a pretty theology heavy BH.SE question made the list without any adverse affects. Indeed, it attracted a couple decent answers from non-regulars. And, C.SE has definitely evolved a lot since the days of "can an atheist go to heaven". (Also, the "disagree" answer to the linked feedback got +10 while the "make it user dependent" suggestion got +12, so nothing overwhelming there.)
    – ThaddeusB
    Sep 24, 2015 at 1:45
  • 3
    So, any chance we can try removing the penalty and seeing if it causes problems?
    – ThaddeusB
    Sep 24, 2015 at 1:47
  • Interesting. Even with the penalty, I've seen quite a few Programmers and Workplace questions on the sidebar, and I can only think of one time when a Christianity question was there. Sep 24, 2015 at 15:53
  • Are you sure that MathOverflow is blocked? Granted, I frequent Math.SE often and I've been to MathOverflow a few times, but that seems to directly contradict your statement. I've also seen a couple Portuguese questions and I've hardly ever gone there. Sep 27, 2015 at 0:56
  • 6
    @El'endiaStarman: Oops. I misunderstood what I was looking at. Those sites don't display questions from other sites; the Hot Network Questions sidebar is disabled. In other news, I've brought up the idea of removing the penalty for this site with the rest of the Community team. We should have a decision in a couple of weeks. Sep 28, 2015 at 20:25
  • @JonEricson: Ahhh, I see. Sep 28, 2015 at 22:08
  • @JonEricson If the penalty is numerical an option could be for it to be reduced only partly. Then more of our best questions would make the list, but still less of a chance of bad ones.
    – curiousdannii Mod
    Sep 29, 2015 at 6:11
  • 1
    @JonEricson A couple weeks? You mean, 6-8 weeks, don't you? Sep 29, 2015 at 15:40
  • @BearinaStudebaker: Well, 2 weeks for a decision might end up being 6-8 weeks before Christianity questions start turning up in the sidebar. Sep 29, 2015 at 16:20
  • 3
    @curiousdannii: I'd prefer to just eliminate the edge case altogether. If bad questions get onto the list, I'd rather find other ways to address the problem. (I don't actually expect any problems, but who knows.) Sep 29, 2015 at 16:33

Incidentally, one of our questions has appeared in the HNQ list today:

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