It seems something remarkable happened yesterday on this SE: A question was posted and already has 2k+ views (as of today) and getting a lot of answers, with lots of upvotes. That was maybe usual when the Philosophy SE beta launched, but it has never happened in recent memory.

So, what happened?

It would be nice to know how the question got all this attention. I think we could learn something from this. Do the mods and admins have any stats, referrals, and insight about this? (My guess is that it was somehow prominently referenced on one of the bigger SE, but that's just a hunch.)

BTW, I should point out: It's not the case that I don't think the question deserves all this attention. It's a wonderful question, with the right balance between personal perspective and general philosophical relevance. I just don't think the intrinsic merits of the question can explain all this attention.

  • I suspect it was simply a question lots of us have asked ourselves. That might explain the views. And since it was a clearly phrased and honest question, we didn't hesitate to vote it up. I know nothing about ethics, so I just voted up the answers that were clear and had added something to the already interesting discussion. – Hunan Rostomyan Apr 21 '14 at 8:20
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    @HunanRostomyan: Thanks for your input! "lots of us" on this SE? This would mean that there are a lot of active lurkers, as it were, who do not normally vote question up or down. That in itself is quite interesting, isn't? It would also mean that there's a huge disconnect between the vast majority of questions and what most users of this SE are interested in - yet these users continue to silently read this SE anyway. I can't come up with a good explanation for this behaviour, it seems a bit counterintuitive. – DBK Apr 22 '14 at 14:29
  • Puzzles me too. The strange general voting behavior might be attributable to the division of labor: some of us know nothing about subject X so we hesitate to cast a judgment on questions of such nature, unless the question is so clear and well-written and honest that without understanding it it's possible to vote it up (or, as the case may be, down). – Hunan Rostomyan Apr 23 '14 at 10:39

I did notice this question myself and was surprised but I haven't found anything out of the ordinary in the analytics mods are provided. Seems like most traffic over the course of a year is largely from search engines (~8/10 visits), less than 1/10 visits are from referring websites, and even fewer from direct links. In the past month or so there was a slight rise in visits from referring websites (less than 1/10 added from that source), so maybe someone posted the question to reddit as well (it's one of the sites listed). And once a question gets "hot", it is more likely to appear in the "Hot Network Questions" side panel which adds to the avalanche of popularity even further.

  • Thanks for these informations! "…over the course of the year…" Are you talking about the general pattern on SE? AFAICS, the question was posted on April 19, 2014, so the general pattern does not explain much here. Can mods request referrals for this question in particular? I am genuinely interested. – DBK Apr 22 '14 at 14:16
  • No, the stats I listed were from Phil.SE only, that's the only data I can see. Also, the question is currently on the Hot Network Questions list on StackOverflow.com, which would explain most of the popularity. The question is how it became popular enough to get there in the first place. :P – stoicfury Apr 23 '14 at 2:39
  • …it's questions all the way down, then, I guess :) – DBK Apr 23 '14 at 11:50

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