Right now about 1/10 of the posts on the 'active questions' meta tab are bumps from Community. I don't think this helps at all, and it worsens the signal-to-noise ratio. Can this be disabled?
This has come up before on meta, at (Why) does this particular question keep getting bumped up by Community?. At the time, there was very little for the Community user to bump, so it just kept bumping the same question every month.
Since then, more questions have become eligible for bumping, either through having their answers downvoted or through zero-score questions receiving a stray upvote.
As of this writing, there are four Community-bumped questions on the front page:
- What happens with "the explanation of the Mendeleev table"?
- Is this question too broad?
- Math rendering errors?
- Add "is your question on-topic" page for new users?
In my opinion, none of them particularly warrant the extra attention.
- [Edit: recently, and even more ridiculously, Winter bash 2016 - hats are live! got bumped to the top of the front page. Because that very much required additional attention once the winter bash was over, you know.]
Moreover, these are essentially the only bumpable questions at this time. This SEDE query implements the criteria in this MSE post and turns up two of the above posts (this one and this one) plus this one (which was active 9 days ago).
Of the other two posts above, this one is reported by SEDE as having an answer with score 1, for reasons that are not really substantiated in either the question or answer timelines, and this one's answer was upvoted after the bump (it's also an old bug report which is useless to bring back up).
In any case: the set of bumpable questions is small. It can grow slightly over time, as people go into the archives and upvote score-zero questions, or downvote existing positive-score answers.
More than that, though: there really is no reason to dredge old stuff back up, particularly if it is only going to add a 10% serving of noise to the meta front page. Currently, the posts eligible for bumping are
those scoring >= 0 that have gone at least 30 days with no activity, have at least one non-deleted answer scoring 0 and none scoring more than that, and no accepted answer (also, they can't be locked or closed).
I contend that, although it may at times be beneficial to have old feature requests or standing bug reports brought back to light for a while, the current bumping criteria are completely uncorrelated with the kind of stuff that might be worthwhile bringing up.
In particular, there are plenty of reasons why a discussion in meta can be left with zero score: it could genuinely need more attention, but it could also be a five-year-old debate that ended in a +5/-5 vote that says a fair bit about the community's feeling at the time. The narrow criteria above are posed to bring up a bunch of boring posts, and quite well-tuned to miss the discussions (such as those with e.g. a single answer at score -1) that could potentially use someone dropping in and adding an answer with the consensus.
More damningly, however, is the fact that the current crop of bumps wouldn't have happened without people digging through the archives and voting on things. To me this is pretty strong evidence that the rationale for keeping this mechanism ("bringing attention to old unresolved discussions, open feature requests, and unsolved bugs") is not actually that necessary - people are digging through the archive and finding these things, and the bumping algorithm relies on it.
There's really no call to have this on meta: the idea sounds nice, sure, but it is a very blunt tool that does not work at all for the intended objective. Please turn it off.
Requests on MSE to modify the bumping behavior have been consistently (ignored or) declined, so no, this is probably not going to happen.
I don't think it worsens the SNR anyway, because these old questions still count in the "signal" category; just because a question is old doesn't make it undeserving of attention. If you think a particular question that has been bumped should not be exposed on the front page, there are several ways to fix that:
- Vote the question down if it's bad
- Vote up a good answer, if one exists
- Post a good answer, if one doesn't already exist
- Flag the question for closure if appropriate