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StackExchange sites have a "Community" user bot that occasionally bumps questions under certain circumstances:

  • The question is open and not deleted
  • The question was not recently active
  • The question's score is not negative
  • The question has no positively-scored answers (more upvotes than downvotes)
  • The question has at least one non-deleted answer with zero score (no votes, or up & down votes cancel out)
  • The question is at least 30 days old
  • It's been at least 120 days since the bot bumped this question

It ranks the top 100 questions that meet these criteria by view count, and randomly selects one to bump to the top of the Active Questions feed, about once per hour.

The intention is to help good questions that maybe didn't get the attention they needed when first posted occasionally see sunlight, so a passing user might give them an answer, or confirm an existing answer is good by upvoting it. It also helps keep the active questions feed from stagnating when new activity is low.

Unfortunately, during periods of very low traffic, this automated bumping completely outpaces non-bot user activity, and we end up with a top page that looks like this:

GDSE top page May 7 2022

That's 12 community bumps in a row. In total today 79% of questions on the main feed today are Community bumps.

This has the effect of burying new content and folks looking for answers today - usually behind questions that show a long history of drawing no engagement (so they may be unanswerable, abandoned, etc.).

We can combat this to some degree by clicking on these Community Bump questions and...

  • Upvoting a zero-score answer, if it's decent (or editing it until it's upvote-worthy)
  • Downvoting all zero-score answers, if they're all bad
  • Adding a new answer of higher quality to attract new upvotes
  • Voting to close the question if it's off-topic or can't be answered well in its current form
  • Down-voting the question to a negative score
  • Flagging zero-score "answers" that are not answers, to be deleted or converted to comments by the mods

Any of these actions can prevent the question from being bumped again, and I encourage doing this whenever you can. But since we have such a huge backlog of bumpable questions, this alone won't solve it.

StackExchange has a feature to mitigate this, which skips Community bumps if any of the top n questions on the Active Questions feed were themselves bumped there by the Community bot.

Currently the Expression Engine, Hardware Recommendations, and Japanese StackOverflow sites use n = 5 to stop bumps if any of the top 5 most-recently-active questions are Community bumps.

Should we request enabling this limit here too? And if so, what threshold n should we use?

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2 Answers 2

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Yes, we should enable the limit on Community bumps.

We should use the same threshold that's been shown to work adequately for the Expression Engine, Hardware Recommendations, and Japanese StackOverflow sites: n = 5, so the Community bot should not bump a question to the top of the GameDev.StackExchange Active Questions feed if there's already a Community bump in any of the top 5 slots.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Sounds right to me. \$\endgroup\$
    – Almo Mod
    May 9 at 1:28
  • \$\begingroup\$ I'm sympagnostic; my landing point is /questions sorted by newest, so it doesn't bury content for me. But given that it does bury content for the default entry point for the site, it makes sense keep that view from getting cluttered with community bumps. \$\endgroup\$
    – Pikalek
    May 11 at 15:51
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Y'all have clearly done your homework here and I appreciate that.

Doing some math, it looks like you currently have about 1800 questions that are eligible for bumping by the Community user, which is quite a few. I really appreciate that the question here is highlighting solutions to reduce the number of these questions that are eligible and giving you all some guidance in what actions to take.

I've enabled this setting as requested but I sincerely hope that y'all consider reviewing these questions and seeing if you can't reduce their number. Increasing voting (up and down) and closing out-of-scope or unclear questions that may have been overlooked will really help clean up the site and also make the content here more valuable to visitors.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Thank you, Catija! We've definitely been working to clean up that pool, and will continue to do so. Hopefully this change will give new questions a bit more sunlight they can enjoy while that work continues behind the scenes. \$\endgroup\$
    – DMGregory Mod
    Aug 8 at 20:58
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    \$\begingroup\$ If it's at all helpful, we have a public SEDE query you're welcome to use - data.stackexchange.com/gamedev/query/1610854/… It's odd, it only finds 1100 questions instead of 1800, so I need to figure out how my count was off. :D \$\endgroup\$
    – Catija StaffMod
    Aug 8 at 20:59

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