Here it is, whether we're ready for it or not.


Chosen by algorithm, according to sources, so
one must assume they're ranked in order of greatness.

  • 5
    My reaction is "meh".
    – ab2
    Jun 30, 2019 at 4:43
  • 3
    The upvote is to say thanks for the info. I looked at these pages and the vast majority were posted in 2011 and none seem to have been posted after 2014. Perhaps the Team over at Stack Exchange could have asked us, the users who use the site, for input...like wishing for pies in the sky....
    – Mari-Lou A
    Jun 30, 2019 at 4:51
  • 1
    How did you find this page? I've searched using my mobile and now the desktop computer but I can't find it.
    – Mari-Lou A
    Jun 30, 2019 at 5:19
  • 1
    @Mari-LouA Related.
    – tchrist Mod
    Jun 30, 2019 at 5:44
  • 1
    @tchrist so it's an old feature. I didn't know that. P.S I looked at the first three pages (<2014) and then the last two pages (>20013) and... I don't understand how these questions qualified for the list.
    – Mari-Lou A
    Jun 30, 2019 at 6:04
  • 5
    Hooray, another list of poor questions that no longer meet the site guidelines. Jun 30, 2019 at 8:44
  • 5
    These questions qualify for the list because the criteria used by the algorithm are astonishingly poor. "The current algorithm divides the number of page views with the total amount of question and answer feedback received (adding a bonus for high view counts), excluding questions with less views than the median :- 722." Using page views as the primary measure (which is then qualified by voting and feedback) is crass.
    – Andrew Leach Mod
    Jun 30, 2019 at 10:25
  • 7
    However, note that the page is "Greatest hits", not "best questions". The trouble is that these are not necessarily questions which should be celebrated.
    – Andrew Leach Mod
    Jun 30, 2019 at 10:26
  • So, they're basically ones with the most page views, thanks to search engines, I gather.
    – NVZ Mod
    Jun 30, 2019 at 14:57
  • 2
    @Mari-LouA: I saw this recent post in Linguistics SA, which pointed to this explanation. Then I just put "greatest-hits" after "questions/" and voila! Jun 30, 2019 at 19:20
  • 1
    I think it would be an interesting exercise to mark the questions ELU would like to take with us if we were forced to move to a new site. ELL’s greatest hits page is actually fairly useful in pointing out topics of interest to learners. I think ELU’s page suffers from having questions that are still hanging around after the ELL split. I wonder if that drives the wrong sort of traffic to the site more so than the url. I wonder if there are a bunch that would make sense to migrate to ELL even though they’re old.
    – ColleenV
    Jul 1, 2019 at 17:05
  • 1
    I'll say this for the list: it has a lot fewer single-word requests than I thought it would. In fact, despite an excess of questions with a focus on politeness or résumé wording, the list compares favorably with a snapshot of the EL&U homepage at any given moment. As for its being the Greatest Hits of EL&U—well, maybe it is. There has always been a huge gap between what self-identified "linguists, etymologists, and serious English language enthusiasts" care about and what the vast majority of the site's actual users think is important.
    – Sven Yargs
    Jul 1, 2019 at 17:56
  • @AndrewLeach Dan Bron's answer on the yellow axe question is the eighth most upvoted post of all time (542 / -5 show full answer) Please UNLOCK the yellow axe question!
    – Mari-Lou A
    Jul 2, 2019 at 14:52

2 Answers 2


Unfortunately I think the list may be misleading. One of the questions listed there actually has +1012 / -2001 in terms of anonymous feedback:

(Presumably it’s in the greatest hits list because people anonymously upvoted its answers, but still.)

This image is from the post feedback 10k tool, more specifically the “least helpful” of all time list. These pages are very similar to the greatest hits page, but they are easier to understand and are also more powerful: they can show you what posts were anonymously upvoted/downvoted today (but not how many anon votes were cast) instead of just things that have been collecting Google votes for almost a decade.

  • 1
    Interesting, one of ELL's greatest hits is In a letter, what is the most polite way to ask for a quick reply? Apparently this is pressing question for a lot of people.
    – ColleenV
    Jul 1, 2019 at 12:54
  • 2
    @ColleenV I don’t find it surprising. I think that people are more willing to forgive grammar mistakes than breaches of politeness. Also even being a native speaker doesn’t mean you know how to write polite formal emails, especially if you’re at the start of your career (as I am).
    – Laurel Mod
    Jul 1, 2019 at 22:47

That's a good find and a useful concept. The small selection I looked at could be termed 'questions saved by good answers', but they really were good saves.

Difference between “résumé” and “CV”, for example, goes beyond "they're synonyms". I might have known the difference once, but if I did, I'd relegated that knowledge to the dusty archives.

The latest question I found was dated 21/3/2019: What is the English pronunciation of “pain au chocolat”?. It was worth browsing just for the humorous reference to "panno chocolate".

I'd be happy for Stack Exchange to link to the page from the menus - perhaps in the hamburger on the right, just below the link to EL&U Meta. Some filters to sort by date, views, votes and so on would be helpful, as would a flag to search just within the 'greatest hits'.

As a community, we have tended to focus on the quality of questions, or the lack thereof. These examples give us a balancing side: finding diamonds in the rough and posting answers that showcase points of interest. These are the kinds of pages that make EL&U an interesting site, particularly for the more established users.

Thanks for posting the link.

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