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This question is prompted by this sugar daddy question, which is the third sugar daddy question I have seen in only a few months. Sorry, but I cannot give you links to the others because it would take too long to find them.

I am also writing this at the invitation of Ganesh Sittampalam, moderator, who said in a comment on this question by DJClayworth:

Moderators can manually remove questions from HNQ. Could you start a meta discussion specifically about establishing a policy that we should always do it for questions about scams? If it's agreed I'd certainly be happy to implement that, either when I see things organically or in response to flags. (emphasis added.)

What do users think about this proposal?

Do users think that scam questions are valuable because they are a service to confused people, or because they generate interest in the site, or for some other reason? Or do users think that sugar daddy questions or Nigerian Prince questions or other obvious scam questions should be discouraged by removing from the HNQ List (when they occur there) and by downvoting, VTCing, flagging, and using whatever other options we have?

Hmmm, that paragraph wasn't exactly a neutrally phrased question, was it? Feel free to react non-neutrally!

Finally, this question complements the Meta question that I linked to the second paragraph, but this question is about a specific action that a moderator has suggested as an option. Thus it is not a duplicate.

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    FWIW it was suggested by StackExchange staff that we discuss the HNQ policy on meta, hence my comment earlier about starting a discussion on this topic. – GS - Apologise to Monica Jun 12 at 18:50
  • Sure. But for questions that tend to be like this, we can ask a CM to blacklist the tag. That's what I would suggest here. "Scam" tagged questions should not hit HNQ. (again, in my opinion) – JTP - Apologise to Monica Jun 12 at 18:53
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    @JoeTaxpayer isn't it a blacklist for title words, not tags? That's still better than nothing (I guess "scam" would be a good start!) but it might not catch everything. – GS - Apologise to Monica Jun 12 at 19:24
  • Good point. I honestly don’t know exactly how they set it up. Once we have agreement, we can ask the CMs to do this, either way. – JTP - Apologise to Monica Jun 12 at 19:25
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    yeah, the main question is policy agreement. Then we can get whatever automatic enforcement is possible, and do the rest manually. – GS - Apologise to Monica Jun 12 at 20:23
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    "or other obvious scam questions" who gets to define obvious? If it was "obvious" to the asker, they wouldn't ask it. The risk in letting more experienced users define "obvious" and then aggressively doing away with obvious content is that we will drive away less knowledgeable, less experienced people. And, as a community, isn't our goal to help those people, not chase them away? It strikes me that your suggestion that we use whatever means necessary to discourage "obvious" questions is inherently contrary to the intent of this site. – dwizum Jun 13 at 14:57
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    I don't regularly contribute here, but I come here often due to scam questions popping up in the HNQ, these questions are interesting to me personally, and I bet there are others too. Also, questions like these may help people in the future after reading them (for example, people who are not being targeted now, but get targeted in the future and they think back to the question they saw in HNQ) – Grumpy says Reinstate Monica Jun 13 at 18:34
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    From the comments, I see that there is strong opinion that users on this site feel a responsibility to be helpful to all comers, including those who are very naïve. This is admirable. So, I now think that a more merciful way of dealing with scam questions is needed rather than automatically banning them from the HNQ list. – ab2 ReinstateMonicaNow Jun 15 at 23:50
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    The mods have agreed "Not to remove Scams from HNQ" as that seems the desire of the majority. (And it's important to note that the mods here will continue to pulse members in this manner before making any similar decisions. The wisdom of the crowd) – JTP - Apologise to Monica Jun 24 at 12:11
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Given the voting on this, we won't be adopting a policy of automatically removing scam questions from HNQ. There's no obvious majority in favour of doing so.

I'm not sure if there's a general network policy on this, but I guess that moderators do have the discretion to remove things on a case-by-case basis if they feel they are problematic. For myself, I'll only do it in the case of an obviously bad question (whether about a scam or not), unless we have previously agreed a policy on meta.

15

No, we should not automatically or manually remove all questions about scams from the HNQ.

The HNQ is a good thing for our site. It is how many new users find us. In fact, I would argue that it is the path that the best new users find us through, because the HNQ brings new users that are already familiar with the Stack Exchange environment.

If we are considering banning a class of questions from the HNQ (or even banning an individual question), we need to consider what the problems are that we are intending to solve. And I just don’t see any problems that these questions being on the HNQ are causing.

Yes, the scam questions can get tiresome to those of us who have been around for a while. But we don’t have to read them if we don’t want to. Yes, the HNQ causes high vote counts for those posts. That’s not a problem for anyone except the jealous.

Questions with negative scores, closed questions and duplicate questions will not appear on the HNQ. Scam questions are on-topic in general, but many could be closed as duplicate. And when we get a unique scam question, I see no reason why it shouldn’t be featured on the HNQ.

I could see the argument that questions about “sugar daddies” are in poor taste, and we don’t want to promote that on our site. Okay, but if that is the reason, let’s be clear on that and only remove “sugar daddy” questions from the HNQ and not just scam questions in general.

The ability for moderators to manually remove questions from the HNQ is a recent addition, which was created to address the issue of questions that are on-topic for a site but with titles that could be considered in poor taste when seen out of context on other sites. The “sugar daddy” questions potentially qualify for that designation, but not scam questions in general.

In my opinion, manual removal of questions should be determined on a case-by-case basis, and should be an extremely rare event, done for a specific reason to solve a specific problem.

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    I think its worth pointing out that plenty of scams are obvious because the scammers want to increase their signal to noise ratio by only attracting the most gullible people. Which means that the people who find the spam questions helpful are probably not going to be the regulars who know better – Reinstate Monica Jun 13 at 14:42
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Yes. In my opinion, the headline question "Should we remove our scam questions from the HNQ List?" gets a yes answer.

On the flip side, I'd hope to maintain a welcoming atmosphere, one that says "Welcome. You've asked a question here that we've actually answered a number of times.... please read these other Q&As and see the advice we've given." The votes to close should come with the link to a duplicate question so the asker can see we have clearly addressed it before. Downvoting? That tends to be off-putting in a way I'd like to avoid. New members don't always "take the tour" or spend any time checking out what makes for a good question. DVs feel aggressive as compared to helpful.

We have enough good questions that hit HNQ, we can choose a few tags that blacklisting from HNQ will be ok. Scam, and Bitcoin, in my opinion.

In response to Ben's comment and answer - HNQ is interesting in that it often becomes the question that gets an existing SE member to visit Money.SE. In my own thinking, HNQ should represent a "best of" sort of post, or at least one that a member would say "this is why I visit Money.SE". Is there any scam post that falls into that group? Not for me. We have 2 issues. The effort to categorically 'close as duplicate' discussed at another Meta post, and the HNQ issue. For HNQ, I believe the bar should be lower and not attract members whose interest isn't likely to be more broad PF issues.

  • If we close questions as duplicate, they will automatically disappear from the HNQ with no manual moderator action needed. If we have unique a unique scam or bitcoin question that is on-topic and not a duplicate that turns out to be popular, why would we remove it from the HNQ? – Ben Miller - Reinstate Monica Jun 13 at 13:42
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    We are conflating 2 issues. Scam (and Bitcoin, IMHO) both attract a wave of first visitors here from HNQ. That's a different issue from the other, the use of the top 4-6 scam questions as targets for dup closure. I see you answered, below and will +1. This is about a discussion, and you present an intelligent view. No surprise there. – JTP - Apologise to Monica Jun 13 at 13:50
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    I really appreciate your positive and helpful tone in your second paragraph. When discussing these issues as "experienced" members of an SE, IMHO it's very easy to lose sight of the person asking the question, who we need to assume is genuinely looking for help. From my perspective, our first duty is to help that person. – dwizum Jun 13 at 14:50
  • You and I don’t get to decide what is popular. We each get one up or downvote per question, and that’s it. You and I have both commented before that some of our highest scoring answers aren’t necessarily our favorite answers, but they are indeed the ones that were read and appreciated by the most people, regardless of our feelings. – Ben Miller - Reinstate Monica Jun 14 at 18:08
  • I’ve written some pretty good answers about HSAs, but an HSA question will never hit the HNQ, because it doesn’t interest most people. Top users in countries other than the US have an even more difficult time getting their answers to trend, because there are fewer users with the expertise necessary to review their answers and upvote. – Ben Miller - Reinstate Monica Jun 14 at 18:08
  • It’s the Hot NQ, not the Best NQ, and it won’t always reflect the preferences of you and I, but that is okay. It's not our job to try to manipulate what we hope will be popular. It’s best to let the voting/trending happen naturally, and enjoy observing the results. – Ben Miller - Reinstate Monica Jun 14 at 18:09
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    @BenMiller we've been given the control over HNQs precisely because there's a feeling across the network that the natural results are sometimes counter-productive. – GS - Apologise to Monica Jun 15 at 5:21
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    @GaneshSittampalam My understanding was that the control was given to prevent Stack Exchange from being embarrassed by having inappropriate out-of-context question titles show up on other sites. Regardless, just because we have the ability to do something doesn’t always mean that it is in our best interest to do it. – Ben Miller - Reinstate Monica Jun 15 at 5:24
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    @BenMiller that was the final trigger but it was seen as a problem for multiple reasons for a long time: interpersonal.meta.stackexchange.com/a/3335/248 (see the 4 bullet points starting from "That said, the problems of the HNQ still plague the site"). Those don't all necessarily apply to us, but we can debate how problematic specific kinds of questions are on their own merits. – GS - Apologise to Monica Jun 15 at 6:03
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    "You and I" don't. But as members, we get to express our opinions. We also have the floor to offer suggestions and seek consensus. If there's a general agreement on this, one of us won't be happy, it seems. I was hoping for your participation on Should we have canonical scam questions? . The 2 issues are tightly linked. If we did a better job, as a stack, closing as dup, the HNQ issue might become moot. – JTP - Apologise to Monica Jun 15 at 11:31
  • @JoeTaxpayer I have just answered that meta question. Perhaps it will help you understand why I sometimes hesitate to close as duplicate. – Ben Miller - Reinstate Monica Jun 15 at 12:52
  • @JoeTaxpayer By the way, I’m a pretty happy guy, albeit one with strong opinions about what would make this community operating at its best. :) I won’t lose any sleep if it is decided to remove the scam questions from the HNQ, I just think that it is the wrong decision that will have slightly negative consequences overall. – Ben Miller - Reinstate Monica Jun 15 at 12:57
  • @GaneshSittampalam Thank you for posting that link. I can see the arguments for the potential issues that some see are caused by the HNQ. I don’t necessarily agree with them, but I at least now have the viewpoint of those that don’t like the HNQ explained. – Ben Miller - Reinstate Monica Jun 15 at 16:40
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    Yes, @GaneshSittampalam thank you for posting that link. It illustrates pretty succinctly that SE staff has no fortitude if a single tweet jettisoned a member site from the HNQ in less than a day (I have no idea which part of the "offending" question titles could have been offensive). I personally don't care one iota about the HNQ list, but the question you linked makes me again question contributing to this platform at all. – quid Jun 18 at 19:52
  • Funny that IPS triggered that. I wrote an answer there, and it quickly got comments of not being up to standards. I worked quite a bit to edit and get it taken off hold, and it got some upvotes. Nearly two years later, a member commented, twice within a few hours, that the answer wasn’t satisfactory. The answer was soon put on hold. And I deleted my IPS account. Each stack has its own personality. I am hopeful I can be part of the team that helps to keep Money.SE more welcoming and friendlier than that. – JTP - Apologise to Monica Jun 18 at 20:31
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One caveat in my agreement that we should remove from HNQ (and vote to close as duplicate): if it is a new scam, I think it's a public service to leave it on HNQ. Meaning something that is sufficiently different that most people may not have heard of it before.

To remove from HNQ, just flag the question, using the 'other' reason, and explain. Also cast a VtC as duplicate. Don't downvote.

  • Yes. Agreed. I am hoping that members view the FAQ, and help decide if the listed 4 scam questions are each unique enough to qualify as a good set to start, and help by adding a 5th, 6th, etc. Ideally, these would be the questions that are the duplicate targets, and would take care of 90% of the new scam questions. – JTP - Apologise to Monica Jun 13 at 11:57
  • Vote to close as duplicate is good, and if the question is closed, it will automatically be removed from the HNQ, no manual removal needed. As you say, if it is a new scam question with no duplicate, it should be on the HNQ. I hesitate to discourage downvoting, because I think many users vote to close questions that they simply don’t like, when a downvote would have been a better option. – Ben Miller - Reinstate Monica Jun 13 at 12:33
  • I like this sentiment. I have the fraud and scam tags marked as favorites largely because I want to see and learn about any new or novel tricks the bad guys are using. A genuinely new scam or con should make HNQ because of its novelty, the old re-hashes of existing grifts should not. – Freiheit Jun 14 at 20:52
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    @BenMiller - "Closing as Duplicate" is far less offensive than seeing one's question voted down. – JTP - Apologise to Monica Jun 15 at 11:33
  • @JoeTaxpayer Agreed. If the only issue you have with a question is that it is one we have seen before, then downvoting is uncalled for. But I have seen too many instances where users vote to close a question that doesn’t need to be closed, solely because they didn’t like the question. That is the use case for downvoting. And I have used the downvote button occasionally on questions that I thought were obvious, stupid questions that were not an asset to the site in my opinion (perhaps in a moment of unfriendly weakness). – Ben Miller - Reinstate Monica Jun 15 at 11:58

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