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According to its profile, the community user randomly pokes old unanswered questions every hour to get them some attention. What does this poke consist of? Is it an action ordinary users are theoretically capable of, or is it some special internal thing like updating the modification timestamp directly?

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  • $\begingroup$ On a tangentially related note, I don't know which of the mandatory tags I should have used. discussion and support seemed like the closest fits, but neither seems fully appropriate. $\endgroup$ Commented Jun 5, 2014 at 7:57
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    $\begingroup$ I always find that "discussion" covers everything. If nothing else is quite right, just go for "discussion"... $\endgroup$
    – user1729
    Commented Jun 5, 2014 at 8:39
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    $\begingroup$ The tag support is good. You want to know how something works (you do not want to change it, no feature request; you do not think it is broken, no bug; you do not suggest to discuss if it should work like this, or how it should work; you simply want to know what is the current behavior). $\endgroup$
    – quid Mod
    Commented Jun 5, 2014 at 11:56
  • $\begingroup$ In other words: if a meta question is an actual question (not a veiled suggestion or a statement), then it's support. $\endgroup$
    – user147263
    Commented Jun 5, 2014 at 13:32

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The poke consists of essentially nothing. It is a 'modification' of the thread that does not modify anything visible. The sole effect is that the question gets a new last modified time (by Community) and thus is put at the top of the active list, giving it visibility.

A user cannot do this in this way. A user could 'fake' this via modifying the thread in some insubstantive way such as a trivial edit or post and delete an answer. But, a user rather should not do this. If a user wants to give anew visibility to a qustion the standard way to do this is via a bounty.

Tangentially, but since it sometimes is misunderstood: not all questions without answer are eligible for poking. In fact only (certain) questions with answer yet still in the 'unanaswered' list are eligible.

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  • $\begingroup$ ${}{}{}{}{}{}{}{}$ $\endgroup$ Commented Jun 6, 2014 at 2:27
  • $\begingroup$ This would not bump as comments do not bump. Also using MathJax to create white space is not a good idea, in my opinion. There are better ways. $\endgroup$
    – quid Mod
    Commented Jun 6, 2014 at 8:09
  • $\begingroup$ ​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​ $\endgroup$
    – quid Mod
    Commented Jun 6, 2014 at 8:13
  • $\begingroup$ But as an edit(which I must admit I have done) it works. How did you do your non-mathjax $\endgroup$ Commented Jun 6, 2014 at 8:20
  • $\begingroup$ Yes, that works. But I wouldn't edit in MJ whitespace as it can mess up formatting and causes rendering delay. My comment is full with several copies of zerowidth space Unicode character. See an MO answer by Andrew Stacey for details Note for comments the HTML entity doesn't work. You'd have to enter the character differently. A way I do this is to use the HTML encoding ​ or rather several copies thereof in an answer box between two visible characters. Then copy those from the preview window and delete the visible characters (and only those). $\endgroup$
    – quid Mod
    Commented Jun 6, 2014 at 9:05
  • $\begingroup$ The above being said, cheating the system with whietspace to get around characterlimits is not something I encourage. I admit did it sometimes (once or twice, except testing and illustration) if the situation really seems perfect for it (at least in my mind :-)) But if one does it one should at least not abuse MJ, in my opinion (as written in detail in the thread I link to), and to offer an alternative was the point of that answer then. $\endgroup$
    – quid Mod
    Commented Jun 6, 2014 at 9:08
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    $\begingroup$ Thank you for the detailed response. I fully understand the rendering delay, as all of the time I spend on Math Stack Exchange is on an old tablet pc which lags constantly. I often take 5-10x as long to write out my code on the basis that it refreshes the display text every time I add a character. Otherwise I have to leave off the dollar signs until the end and I hope I code well blind. $\endgroup$ Commented Jun 6, 2014 at 12:58

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