I was looking at the front page of unix.stackexchange.com and noticed today that these 2 questions had a order of magnitude more views than any of the other questions and was curious as to why.

        ss 1

original link: How to fill 90% of the free memory?

        ss 2

original link: Convince apt-get *not* to use IPv6 method

The 2nd question seems fine, but the 1st, IMO, is actually not that well written a question. Having 17 answers would seem to indicate this as well.

  • Ok so I'm not the only one, lol -- I thought there had been some kind of malfunction with How to fill 90% of the free memory? when I saw the scores 12 hours after it was written. There's an answer in there that got 75 when normally it'd be lucky to end up with 2. Really, honestly. Pretty zany.
    – goldilocks
    Nov 13, 2013 at 14:37
  • 1
    @goldilocks - yeah, I'd almost rather they take some of the older Q&A's with accepted A's and a threshold of view/upvotes and show them on the feed rather than take this dribble and put it out there. At least then they'd be showcasing our best Q&A's to the world. Putting this 90% memory type of Q out to the general populace ends up filling this site up with non-sense we can do without.
    – slm Mod
    Nov 13, 2013 at 14:41

1 Answer 1


How to fill 90% of the free memory? was shared through social media (at least Hacker news and the Stack Exchange twitter feed), and it rose to the top of the Stack Exchange hot question list (which picks on popular questions and makes them more popular). It's simple enough that many people understand what it's about, don't get bored halfway through it, and have an opinion on the answers. That's a recipe for popularity. Quality doesn't really enter into it. This question has had its 15 minutes of fame, and if it wasn't for people specifically browsing the top popular or high-scoring questions, it would fall back onto obscurity.

Convince apt-get *not* to use IPv6 method didn't get very popular overnight. It got onto the Stack Exchange twitter feed, but that didn't amount to much. You can see in the timeline that the votes have been trickling in in the two years the question has been online. It has been linked here and there, and it solves a real, immediate problem that many people face. This is the kind of question that we like to see become popular.

Our top viewed questions are (in close order):

Oddly enough, they don't have a huge score, unlike the next runner-up Why was '~' chosen to represent the home directory?. This may have something to do with the manner in which they became popular: the top three gathered their votes over time, so they presumably got views because they corresponded to problems faced by people searching the Internet, whereas #4 got its views through two discrete events: on the first day, and on the day several months later when it was shared on Hacker News.

It seems that HN readers have Stack Exchange accounts (so they view and vote), but people with actual problems to solve don't (so they view and don't vote).

  • 2
    +1 for the last paragraph
    – drs
    Jul 18, 2014 at 20:03
  • @drs Not only that, you do need at least 25 rep to vote Dec 28, 2014 at 15:59
  • I disagree that the question about filling memory isn't relevant to "people with actual problems to solve", and indeed I think the passage of time has more or less proved this answer wrong. That question continues to get multiple upvotes per month, eight years after the end of its supposed "15 minutes of fame". Indeed I only found this Meta question after wanting to artificially fill up memory for testing purposes, googling, and finding that question about filling up memory (from whose comments section this Meta question is linked).
    – Mark Amery
    Jan 2, 2022 at 12:20

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