What constitutes a low number of views in the description of the Tumbleweed badge?


An unofficial thread on Meta.SO suggests that the number is in the range 11-15, but SE leadership never disclosed the exact number.

...and I can add that it's less than 43 on meta.

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    $\begingroup$ since I just earned it for this question... $\endgroup$ – draks ... Jan 20 '13 at 11:18
  • $\begingroup$ ... but maybe I've just hit the 7 days requirement today... $\endgroup$ – draks ... Jan 20 '13 at 14:18
  • $\begingroup$ That's quite an honor; only the 4th Tumbleweed in the history of meta.Math.SE. $\endgroup$ – user53153 Jan 21 '13 at 3:18
  • $\begingroup$ @5PM a trophy for the soul of a badge hunter...$\phantom{test}$ $\endgroup$ – draks ... Jan 21 '13 at 8:15
  • $\begingroup$ @5PM will I get an entry in the history post? $\endgroup$ – draks ... Jan 21 '13 at 10:16
  • $\begingroup$ @draks... So how will you try to hunt for Unsung Hero? $\endgroup$ – Hagen von Eitzen Jan 22 '13 at 16:46
  • $\begingroup$ @HagenvonEitzen I'm already more unsung than you...;-) $\endgroup$ – draks ... Jan 22 '13 at 23:10

Now I'm the "proud" owner of a brand-new tumbleweed badge. The award winning question had 23 views after 7 days.

This badge marks a new low point on my fading enthusiasm for math.SO. People don't take much interest in my questions and answers, and I don't have much interest in most of the higher upvoted stuff, take this question and its answers as an example. Where do all those upvotes come from?

In this discussion I found the statement "The view count is rarely the limiting factor -- no answers, no comments for a week typically is.". So probably the bound it a lot higher than 23.

  • $\begingroup$ Easy answers: easy votes. It's the sad truth of our existence, the preference for less-energy consuming activities. After all, this is why our ape ancestors began walking upright. It saved them a few calories a year... (At least according to "Walking with Cavemen") $\endgroup$ – Asaf Karagila Dec 1 '13 at 11:22
  • $\begingroup$ @AsafKaragila: Your are right, this seems to be the flavor of this place: Brilliant mathematicians optimizing their upvotes/energy rate. And the fact that all those cheap questions get so many upvotes (hell, WHY?) makes them having fun in posting trivialities. $\endgroup$ – azimut Dec 1 '13 at 11:33
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    $\begingroup$ It's not the brilliant mathematicians optimize their votes like that. It's that your question drowns in a sea of trivial questions; so the brilliant mathematicians don't see your questions, and the big crowds of non-mathematicians ignores it, and votes the simple ones. $\endgroup$ – Asaf Karagila Dec 1 '13 at 11:34
  • $\begingroup$ Also, I feel obligated to point out that your "recent question" example is a year old. Not quite as recent as it could be. $\endgroup$ – Asaf Karagila Dec 1 '13 at 11:40
  • $\begingroup$ @AsafKaragila: I disagree. Your argument that every single question is only a drop in the ocean of all those "please solve my homework" questions applies to every single questions, no matter how advanced or basic it is. So every question should have the same low chance to be picked at random. But: For the cheapest ones, it's not too uncommon that several high-rep users are racing to be the first one to post an answer (typically only minutes after the question was posted). $\endgroup$ – azimut Dec 1 '13 at 12:15
  • $\begingroup$ cont.: So there is some selection process going on, favoring the questions admitting an effortless answer, cheap enough to promise many upvotes. $\endgroup$ – azimut Dec 1 '13 at 12:15
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    $\begingroup$ The issue is exacerbated by the fact that once a question is popular enough, it appears on the "hot questions" list across the SE network. When this happens, the question starts collecting votes from users who don't usually visit Math.SE. This (partially) explains the unusually-high vote counts on some trivial questions. $\endgroup$ – Ayman Hourieh Dec 1 '13 at 12:44
  • $\begingroup$ azimut, my claim wasn't that "every single question drowns in the sea of homework". The same argument can be applied to conclude that either everyone on the planet is suicidal, or that no one is suicidal. Clearly it's a logical fallacy. But amongst your 20 viewers, and the initial 20 viewers of that other questions, none posted comments or answers to your question; whereas two-three posted answers to the other one, thus raising the question to the main page again and creating intrigue causing others to join in. If a critical mass is to be found, the thread lands on the hot questions list [...] $\endgroup$ – Asaf Karagila Dec 1 '13 at 13:52
  • $\begingroup$ [...] and from there it is getting more and more votes by non-MSE regulars. Moreover when I see something with eight answers I'm more likely to visit it, to see what sort of question admits eight different answers. And I'm not the only one. And many of the visitors (sometimes included myself, other times not) will easily vote those answers as they are short and catchy. So you see, it's all about a chain reaction which sometimes manages to gain a critical amount of energy and explode onto the site with votes and answers, and sometimes not. $\endgroup$ – Asaf Karagila Dec 1 '13 at 13:54
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    $\begingroup$ @AsafKaragila: Ok, that makes sense. Still, if both on 0 views and 0 answers, a question title "Why is $\sqrt{8}/2 = \sqrt{2}$" (adding phrases like "Help me to convince my little sister of..." or "My teacher doesn't believe that..." only helps) will have a much higher attraction than "Images of composed homomorphisms". That is clear for those who don't understand one of the titles, but my increasingly frustrating impression is that it is also true for the vast majority (in terms of activity) of the brilliant mathematicians on this page, for reasons stated above ("upvotes/energy"). $\endgroup$ – azimut Dec 1 '13 at 14:18
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    $\begingroup$ @Asaf the way I see it the problem is that there aren't eight different answers. The answers are variants of the same theme. This exacerbates the problem further. A trivial question generates thousand points rep, a good question generate 35 points. One of these days I will reach the boiling point and introduce a downvote comment template called "turkey shoot". Azimut, I don't think that the brilliant mathematicians here do what you describe. Many high rep members do, though. Well, that's what you were saying, too. There are exceptions, like Matthew Emerton, Gerry Myerson,... $\endgroup$ – Jyrki Lahtonen Dec 1 '13 at 16:19
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    $\begingroup$ (cont'd) also the ultra-high rep members do visit non-trivial tags also. But the most annoying thing to me are the high rep members who still act like they are sitting in a freshman year exam. $\endgroup$ – Jyrki Lahtonen Dec 1 '13 at 16:21
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    $\begingroup$ @JyrkiLahtonen: Probably the term "brilliant mathematician" was not the best one. What I mean is that quite commonly, people deliberately are spending most of their participation time on questions well below their level, simply because it generates much more reputation. Boosted by the effects discussed above, the result is that the more advanced questions often don't get much attention, even though there are enough participants who could contribute something useful. $\endgroup$ – azimut Dec 1 '13 at 16:52
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    $\begingroup$ @Jyrki: I'm not joking, actually. I'm just really trying to procrastinate writing a homework sheet (despite this week topic to be my favorite: the axiom of choice). $\endgroup$ – Asaf Karagila Dec 1 '13 at 17:18
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    $\begingroup$ @Jyrki: I was born there, and I'm still procrastinating leaving... ;-) $\endgroup$ – Asaf Karagila Dec 2 '13 at 9:42

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