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After about a year on SE, I have noticed that the number of views for any puzzle range dramatically from less than 100 to 5K or more. I assume a puzzle is considered viewed when a reader clicks on it? So what makes someone click on a particular puzzle? The puzzles that get over 1K views: Are they viewed because some other sites catch them? Or is it just word of mouth? Are there puzzle solving groups that spread the word about a good puzzle?

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    $\begingroup$ I think it's mostly because of the "Hot Network Questions" that promote puzzles over all 171 Stack Exchange sites. Unfortunately I don't know how these are selected. It seems like many first posts of new members get there, probably to keep them on this site. $\endgroup$ – A. P. Jan 3 '18 at 16:35
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Logic? What logic?

I don't think anybody (except maybe some SEO experts at Google and similar companies?) really understands what makes some questions more clicked than others. Some factors include:

  • Hot Network Questions. If a question hits the HNQ list, it gets featured on the sidebar of all pages on all SE sites, for as long as it's on the list (usually a few days at most) - such questions often skyrocket in views and votes.

    The algorithm used to determine "hotness" is here.

  • Common/popular search results. Some questions get incredible numbers of views without ever being featured on the HNQ list, so there must be other factors involved.

    This question is the second most-viewed on the entire site, despite being closed and therefore not eligible for the HNQ list. Ditto this question, which also makes it into the top ten despite its negative score. This question probably did go HNQ, but it's had at least 50,000 more views since then. I guess their titles must be things that people Google for a lot?

  • Are they viewed because some other sites catch them? Or is it just word of mouth? Are there puzzle solving groups that spread the word about a good puzzle?

    And yes, all of these are probably factors too, at least for some puzzles.

But at the end of the day, there's a hell of a lot of chance involved in all of these factors. Whether or not a question goes HNQ depends on it getting either lots of answers, or lots of votes on a single answer, quickly. This doesn't always reflect the quality of the Q&A (in fact, sometimes it does the opposite!) And SEO probably (?) depends on having commonly searched-for titles, but overly generic titles should probably be changed to something more descriptive, and if they're too generic they won't be good for SEO anyway.

So, in the words of George RR Martin, who the hell knows.

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    $\begingroup$ That formula for the HNQ explains why overly broad questions that generate many answers in short time are by far more likely to get into HNQ than just good questions. $\endgroup$ – A. P. Jan 4 '18 at 0:06
  • $\begingroup$ @A.P. Yup, exactly. $\endgroup$ – Rand al'Thor Jan 4 '18 at 0:07

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