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When looking at the edit-history of a question, I saw that it had been posted on twitter by the academia.SE twitter account. I do not really use twitter and never knew that this account existed. I had a quick look and there are more than 20000 posts on twitter by that account.

Just out of curiosity: who decides which questions to post on twitter or is this an automated process for questions that gain a certain amount of votes in a certain amount of time? Is it linked to HNQ status?

And why post questions on twitter at all? Will this not lead to a voting bias for those questions (in the sense that those questions will receive more votes this way than they normally would, making them appear more important than other questions)? Or are they in fact more "valuable" questions and thus worth posting on twitter?

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    Thank you for asking this question. I have been wondering about this for over ten years. My biggest concern is that would the Twitter posts make the questions HNQ? If so, why do we sometimes remove questions from HNQ list? Or, the other way around, HNQ induce Twitter posts? if so, why not also FB and other social media? Is this SE wide? or only Academia SE?
    – Nobody
    Jan 18, 2023 at 4:35
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    meta.stackexchange.com/q/183407/386376
    – cag51 Mod
    Jan 18, 2023 at 4:51
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    The answer now is never, no more tweets.
    – Laurel
    Feb 8, 2023 at 17:59

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who decides which questions to post on twitter or is this an automated process for questions that gain a certain amount of votes in a certain amount of time? Is it linked to HNQ status?

It is an automated process. There is a "hotness" algorithm, which requires among other things a positive score. I don't think the full algorithm has been disclosed, so it's unclear whether it's tied directly to HNQ status. Empirically, it seems that all questions are tweeted before they become HNQs (but not all tweeted questions go on to become HNQs).

And why post questions on twitter at all? Will this not lead to a voting bias for those questions (in the sense that those questions will receive more votes this way than they normally would, making them appear more important than other questions)? Or are they in fact more "valuable" questions and thus worth posting on twitter?

Agree that this leads to a hugely multimodal distribution: questions that get tweeted or become HNQs can easily reach 1K views, whereas questions that do not almost never get more than 500 views. Though of course, the most interesting questions are the ones that are promoted, so this is partially correlation rather than causation. But to the extent that the number of views (and votes) correlates with question quality at all, it is certainly not linear.

Perhaps most concerningly, the first few hours are critical: if a question starts out bad but is then edited into an amazing question within a few hours, it is probably too late for the question to get promoted. In some cases, it will even be stuck with a hugely negative score that it no longer deserves.

But overall, this is a feature not a bug; by making the most interesting questions more visible, we can attract new users to the site.

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  • Can you give a link to that twitter feed? I couldn't find it.
    – Buffy
    Jan 20, 2023 at 19:30
  • twitter.com/StackAcademia
    – cag51 Mod
    Jan 20, 2023 at 19:33
  • update: came across one question that became an HNQ before it was tweeted. My guess is that there are a certain number of slots for HNQs, and a certain tweet frequency rate, so it's effectively two different queues.
    – cag51 Mod
    Jan 20, 2023 at 23:33
  • "Perhaps most concerningly, the first few hours are critical" - is there a potential issue, then, with the time the question is published at? That is, do questions posted at 4 AM EST "perform" worse than those at 7 PM EST?
    – Lodinn
    Jan 26, 2023 at 16:52
  • I suspect there are optimal times to post, though I'm not sure what they might be. But I was referring more to question quality -- a poorly-written question that gets cleaned up after a couple of days will have a much worse outcome than if the cleaned-up version had been posted in the first place.
    – cag51 Mod
    Jan 26, 2023 at 17:51

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