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The site is now almost two days in public beta. I've checked the amount of views and see a very big contrast. A few questions are viewed less than 100 times, but some are viewed even more than 1000 times.

I think, this comes mainly from search engines.

Can someone explain why some particular questions are viewed so often and others not?


Here is a list of the most viewed questions:

everything else is viewed less than 300 times at the moment.

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    $\begingroup$ The top one (about homework answers online) was linked to on Reddit, /r/math, and was quite popular. $\endgroup$ – Brendan W. Sullivan Mar 26 '14 at 17:04
  • $\begingroup$ And the handwriting one, as well, I just noticed today. $\endgroup$ – Brendan W. Sullivan Mar 26 '14 at 17:04
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    $\begingroup$ The other questions all appeared in the 'hot questions' list on the right-hand side of the main site. I was surprised by their popularity, and then I realized that every single person on the stack exchange took a large number of math classes in their life and have strong feelings about it. $\endgroup$ – Brian Rushton Mar 26 '14 at 17:49
  • $\begingroup$ The third one was also linked to on reddit. $\endgroup$ – Jim Belk Mar 26 '14 at 23:25
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On a large site, such as Stack Overflow, the view distribution looks something like this:

View distribution on SO

Not surprisingly, this looks something like a Poisson distribution since internet traffic is a classic example of a Poisson process. However, on a smaller sites (say, Parenting) the graph is far less smooth because there's more noise in a smaller sample size. The questions you mentioned are "noise" from that perspective.

Generally question views are independent of each other. As I look at the front page I pick out questions that look interesting based on the title. (Or I might read every question on the site in the beginning.) But other questions I might read because they were suggested to me (and a lot of other people). For instance, a question might turn up on Reddit, Twitter, or the hot questions list. For those questions, views are not independent of each other.

Views on popular questions should follow more closely the power law because new viewers have a tendancy to share the questions with others. These questions are "long-tail" in the sense that a few dominate the Greatest Hits (coming soon to a page near you!). But they tend not to be long-tail in the sense that they appeal to a much larger audience than the contributors to this site.

The early signs suggest that this site will be a regular on the hot question list, for better or worse. That means this community needs to watch out to welcome and guide new users that arrive via popular questions.

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  • $\begingroup$ Cool! I've never seen this on other sites, but typing it into MSE gave me some interesting results. Is this new? If not, are there other secret ranking pages (like best answers)? $\endgroup$ – Brian Rushton Mar 26 '14 at 22:39
  • $\begingroup$ @Brian Rushton: It was posted on the blog. But it's not a feature that we've done much to promote. $\endgroup$ – Jon Ericson Mar 26 '14 at 22:55

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