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In reference to the recent changes to the Hot Network Question Bar it had been recommended to shape the new rights of moderators per meta discussions:

Moderators [now] have the ability to remove questions from the HNQ List

There are times when the hotness formula selects a question that a site would rather not have featured. Up until now, the only recourse that was available was to close the question (which may be appropriate anyway but isn't ideal when done purely to manage traffic), or to do nothing. We're putting the power in the hands of our moderators to remove questions that don't set a good example for their sites. I recommend each site have a meta discussion with guidance for moderators about when - if ever - a question should be removed.

This question is supposed to give guidance as to which questions the community wants to have in the HNQs and which not since they shape the impression (and thus expectations) members and visitors of other network communities have about the topics that are discussed here and the form of questions and answers that we want to have.

For example, there regularly are some ill-shaped-but-generally-tolerable-for-a-new-member questions about God, evolution, some obscure alleged "fallacy" or free will that make it into the HNQs, but just may not be a good fit to represent the type and form of question that we aspire to have here.

So, should we leave it at "is not directly close-worthy", for example because every kind of representation is better than none, or should there be some other criteria since this is really a huge factor of how our community is represented in the minds of users all across StackExchange?

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    I feel the problem is intrinsic to the style of philosophy. It is awkward to ask genuinely philiosophical questions because in Russell's tradition all there can be are opinions. This is Kant's ' arena for mock fights'. I don't see how this site can fix a problem that afflicts the whole academic field – PeterJ Mar 21 at 11:36
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For example, there regularly are some ill-shaped-but-generally-tolerable-for-a-new-member questions about God, evolution, some obscure alleged "fallacy" or free will that make it into the HNQs, but just may not be a good fit to represent the type and form of question that we aspire to have here.

I am not thrilled with these questions being in HNQ, because it can turn a very simple question into an inarticulate, logically incoherent, and generally unpleasant reenactment of some substantial fraction of the history of western philosophy. Think: large numbers of users advancing long-discredited philosophical accounts, making simple logical errors, and so on. It's like watching a train wreck.

My suggested policies:

  • If the question's subject is an entire article (or multiple articles) in SEP, then don't HNQ it, because it invites visitors to just make things up, and then those ideas go unattributed to the philosophers who evaluated them centuries ago. This is bad - if we don't attribute philosophical ideas, then we can't consider the broader historical contexts of those ideas, and especially subsequent critiques of those ideas.
    • It's OK to HNQ more specific questions like "Why did Dennett call the Cogito a wild goose chase?" - that question for example can be answered by reading and understanding Dennett's writings, without having to reference other philosophers at all. It implicitly discourages people from answering unless they know who Dennett is.
    • It's also OK to HNQ more specific or technical topics like transworld identity, because the average non-philosopher is not going to have an opinion about that (at least, not without doing some research). It's really only a problem when the topic is superficially accessible.
  • If the question is premised on a clearly faulty understanding of some philosophical concept, then HNQ is probably a Bad Idea - unless it's such a common misconception that we would be doing the world a service by publicly correcting it.
    • In particular, quite a lot of people seem to think that "logical fallacy" is a synonym for "any argument whose conclusion I disagree with" and this confusion causes them to ask many poor-quality questions which do not belong on HNQ.
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    Note that at this stage the mods will only be able to remove questions from the HNQ list, not suggest ones for the list. Some of the more interesting questions are also the more obscure ones, and without answers with a decent number of upvotes they will not be considered for the HNQ list. – curiousdannii Mar 21 at 6:08
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    @curiousdannii: When I use "HNQ" as a transitive verb, I mean it as shorthand for "allow [something] to appear on HNQ without removing it, assuming it is not otherwise causing problems." – Kevin Mar 22 at 6:56
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I'm surprised how many extremely "soft" questions stay open on this site. I've flagged many as opinion based or too broad and had those flags rejected. Okay, that's me still learning how this site operates. But I'd suggest that even if questions like these stay open, they shouldn't be permitted on the HNQ list:

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    While many of these topics are quite broad, they are also largely at the heart of philosophy. Not having answers to them would be like Open Source not having answers explaining the GPL. – Kevin Mar 21 at 4:23
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    @Kevin Just because a question is on-topic doesn't mean that it's not too broad or opinion based. For example, the Christianity site would not allow a question that asks if Jesus is God. But that's not even the point of this discussion - this isn't about what's on-topic, but what should be advertised to the rest of the SE Network through the HNQ list. These broad/subjective questions don't highlight the best of Philosophy.SE and make it seem more like Quora. – curiousdannii Mar 21 at 4:34

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