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So apparently there is a secret way to remove questions from the Hot Network Questions.

Look at this question. The original version made it to #25 on the HNQs. After Emrakul's edit (adding some invisible characters to the title), it disappeared from the HNQs altogether. I thought this was a little odd at the time (and also thought Emrakul's edit was very odd!), but ascribed it to coincidence and the fact that the HNQs change rapidly. Later I saw Emrakul's edit description "prevent HNQ entry", and realised that - without consulting me, by the way - he'd manually removed my question from the HNQs.

Adding the code

 $\;$ 

to the end of a question's title automatically removes it from the HNQs.

I thought this was something the community should know about. And to make this a question rather than just an informative post (this might be meta, but it still seems to be mainly Q&A!), let me ask the following:

why have we never heard about this before?

There has been at least one previous meta post about HNQs and the issue of removing questions from it, which according to the accepted answer is impossible. Googling stack exchange remove questions from HNQs or stack exchange remove questions from hot network questions yields no relevant results. Is this something secret that non-moderators aren't supposed to know about? If not, why hasn't there been a blog post about it or any discussion on any meta that I can find?

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    $\begingroup$ I wasn't sure whether to tag this as "bug" or "support"! $\endgroup$ – Rand al'Thor Mar 10 '15 at 23:14
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This is a slight exploit having to do with titles with MathJax deliberately being excluded from HNQ:

the problem is simply that we don't want to turn on MathJax everywhere, most notably on StackOverflow, so those titles don't render correctly

As to why this edit was made on your question, it's something of a special case, and Emrakul already answered that question on this meta post.

Please do not abuse this "trick" for a large amount of questions. Again, this was a somewhat unique situation, and this "feature," "bug," or whatever you want to call it should not be abused excessively.

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  • $\begingroup$ Informative answer. But I don't know why anyone wouldn't want their question to appear on HNQ, so I don't think you have to worry about anyone abusing that trick. $\endgroup$ – pacoverflow Mar 10 '15 at 23:14
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    $\begingroup$ @pacoverflow But they might want someone else's question not to appear on HNQ! It happened to me, and also to the semitruck question (which was kinda silly IMO anyway). $\endgroup$ – Rand al'Thor Mar 10 '15 at 23:17
  • $\begingroup$ @randal'thor It did, which seems unnecessary. I've rolled back that edit. Again, this should only be done for very exceptional and abnormal cases. $\endgroup$ – Doorknob Mar 10 '15 at 23:20
  • $\begingroup$ @pacoverflow Being on the HNQ often results in a flurry of bad answers from users who are new to that particular SE, especially where the question feels like it's approachable to non-experts. This is an occasional minor problem on Computer Science, for example $\endgroup$ – David Richerby Mar 22 '15 at 20:36

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