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We normally see a few new questions per day, and then of those we normally only get what I would call "good" questions maybe 2-3 times per week.

The thing that had kept the site seeming more fresh than that was the Community Bot, which would bump older questions to the top. This would typically happen for maybe 5-7 or so questions per day.

Lately, though, it seems like we don't get bumps like we used to. I've noticed that since about mid-January the bumps have almost completely stopped. The site looks much slower now. If you look at the site analytics, you can see that question and answer posting is on a sharp decline; questions and answers now are about a third of what they were 3 or 4 weeks ago. All of this despite the fact that traffic seems to be about the same.

My big fear is that declining question volume is driving the declining answer volume, and the overall decline in participation is going to start driving traffic away (or failing to attract or retain regular visitors).

Who controls the Community Bot? Was there a change made to the Community Bot? Is there a setting that we, the moderators of that site, can adjust?

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  • $\begingroup$ I haven't noticed anything about it on Meta:SE $\endgroup$ – sempaiscuba Feb 8 at 0:17
  • $\begingroup$ @sempaiscuba - have you noticed a drop in the rate at which questions have been appearing here? $\endgroup$ – Chuck Feb 8 at 0:29
  • $\begingroup$ Yes, and also on another SE beta site that I'm a member of. But I haven't heard anything about changes to the Community bot. $\endgroup$ – sempaiscuba Feb 8 at 0:37
  • $\begingroup$ I agree. It does look like there are very few community bumps on the homepage now. There used to be many more. $\endgroup$ – Ben Feb 8 at 0:43
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Good eye! This changed on around January 8th

I've added a change here so that the community user can't rebump a question unless the original bump is more than 90 days in the past.

The problem here was caused back in 2011 when the bumps were weighted a little more towards questions that had been already been viewed. The outcome all this time later was that more bumps got more views got more bumps got more views and so forth.

If you look at the data on which questions were bumped here over the past 365 days, an awful lot seem to have been bumped once every month. The reason is, a question must not have had any activity in the last 30 days to qualify for bumping - and bumping modifies the last activity date. So the most-eligible question at any given moment would tend to be the one that was most eligible precisely one month ago... And again, and again, and again.

Now, questions have to wait a solid 4 months (120 days) after being bumped before they can be bumped again, unless some other form of activity (new answer, edit, etc.) occurs on them in the interim. This should provide a bit more variety in what gets bumped, although it will also tend to reduce the pool for eligible questions.

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  • $\begingroup$ So does this mean we're on a temporary moratorium on bumped questions? If I understand this correctly, then you're saying a question that was at 29 days on January 8th, and would have been bumped January 9th, now has to wait an additional 90 days to get to 30+90 = 120 days for bumping. All other questions have to wait the same, so it seems like we're going to be in a drought of sorts until mid-April. Also, if our questions typically got bumped once a month, then this would seem to imply that we're going to see a wave of questions from mid-April to mid-May, followed by another 90 day drought. $\endgroup$ – Chuck Feb 8 at 14:42
  • $\begingroup$ It'll be slow for a bit, but there are still eligible posts. Here's a query to give you a rough idea of when to expect new bumps: data.stackexchange.com/robotics/query/978211 $\endgroup$ – Shog9 Feb 8 at 18:54
  • $\begingroup$ Thanks for the queries; I'll probably start playing with those sometime soon. In looking at the query you set up, it looks like there are 16 questions that could be bumped for the remainder of this month. There are three for the entire month of March, and then nothing until... April 9th. So, 19 total between now and April 9th, then 83 between April 9th and May 9th. I worry about getting setup for a drought/flood cycle, especially if the ratio is 3:1 drought:flood. Is it possible to cap how many posts Community will bump? If we could spread out April's posts then it'll break the cycle. $\endgroup$ – Chuck Feb 8 at 20:36
  • $\begingroup$ It is... kinda... But it's a per-hour setting, so no easy way to say "don't bump anything for a month". OTOH, it's possible to manually reset some of these - that 120-day wait only applies to questions where the last person to touch it was Community. If you go through & edit some of the ones further down the list, they'll get bumped immediately - and then again in 30 days. Maybe this is a good opportunity to spiff up some lackluster titles? $\endgroup$ – Shog9 Feb 9 at 1:44
  • $\begingroup$ Fair enough, I'll work on that as soon as I get some free time. $\endgroup$ – Chuck Feb 9 at 15:51
  • $\begingroup$ What counts as activity on the question to reset the bump timer? You mentioned new answers, and edits. But is there anything else? Votes, tag edits, comments, flags... $\endgroup$ – Ben Feb 13 at 1:16
  • $\begingroup$ Anything that changes the last activity date, @Ben (look at the top of the right sidebar here, where it says "active 4 days ago" - that's the date that needs to change). So tag edits == yes, votes, flags, etc. generally no. $\endgroup$ – Shog9 Feb 13 at 1:45

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