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I was wondering why Mathematics gives such importance to a question's viewcount?
I have no objection with mentioning it on that particular question's (it is understandable)but I do not get it why it is shown on the home page.
There must be something better that can be put over there, mustn't there?

What does your experience say? Is it useful? Or just some use of space?

Note: Because its been only around a month since I seriously started using Math.SE, I am not as experienced, though I am fairly familiar with the culture of the community here.

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    $\begingroup$ This is common to all StackExchange sites. I don't think anyone around here particularly cares for it. $\endgroup$ – Dylan Moreland Apr 6 '12 at 13:17
  • $\begingroup$ I think the user Rahul raised this point in a recent post. $\endgroup$ – user21436 Apr 6 '12 at 17:39
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The view count does convey useful information. For example, if the view count is low then this may be because the questioner chose a poor title. Knowing such, the questioner can revise the title to help the question get better exposure. If revising the title doesn't help raise the view count, then this may imply that not many members have interest or expertise in the matter, so the OP may wish to look elsewhere for answers (e.g. MO). And if we know that we don't have much expertise in certain fields, we can use this knowledge when recruiting colleagues to help fill gaps in community knowledge. When new experts join, and they browse the list of unanswered questions, they can use the view count to help infer which answers would be of most interest to the community.

By the way, does anyone know if the view count is the count of users who viewed the question, or does it (sometimes) count multiple views by the same user? This is useful to know to help assess if anyone has viewed a (relatively late) answer, or an answer to an old question. If the view count is just a user count then it is not very useful for such. Otherwise, view counts can relay useful statistics to answerers. For example, if my answer received few votes then this may be explained by the fact that there were few views because I posted it too late. But if there were many views since I posted my answer, then there are probably other reasons why it didn't get many votes (probably too general!) Thus, armed with that knowledge, I can attempt to improve the answer, so that it is accessible at the level of the majority of readers. Sometimes I will explicitly keep a page open to my answer so that I can easily track the number of votes per (new) views, to help gauge how well the answer was received.

Similarly one can make other statistical inferences based on view counts that may help to improve the site. I encourage others to mention ways that they've devised to use the view count to help improve the site. This could prove very useful to new members.

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  • $\begingroup$ I remember reading somewhere that view count counts unique visitors, i.e. multiple visits by same user is counted as a single visit. $\endgroup$ – Aryabhata Apr 6 '12 at 18:36
  • $\begingroup$ @Aryabhata That's what I surmised, but I vaguely recall once discovering some scenario that didn't quite agree with that. Perhaps it was a bug, or perhaps there are some exceptional cases. $\endgroup$ – Bill Dubuque Apr 6 '12 at 18:39
  • $\begingroup$ From my experience, the site has almost definitely counted my views (from the same computer) as distinct views when they are separated by some reasonable amount of time (I have no idea what the actual number is). Of course it's possible my IP got renewed or some other such and that is the cause of the view count getting incremented. $\endgroup$ – user23784 Apr 6 '12 at 22:50
  • $\begingroup$ It definitely counts multiple views by the same user. Somewhere on meta.SO there is information on this. I think the hysteresis used is about 15 minutes. $\endgroup$ – cardinal Apr 7 '12 at 1:13
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    $\begingroup$ meta.SO: How does Stack Overflow calculate the number of views in a question? $\endgroup$ – Martin Sleziak Apr 7 '12 at 7:07

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