This is a recently introduced feature:
There are times when the hotness formula selects a question that a site would rather not have featured. Up until now, the only recourse that was available was to close the question (which may be appropriate anyway but isn't ideal when done purely to manage traffic), or to do nothing. We're putting the power in the hands of our moderators to remove questions that don't set a good example for their sites. I recommend each site have a meta discussion with guidance for moderators about when - if ever - a question should be removed.
Per recommendation above, let's discuss when we are generally expected to use it at our site. Statistics data here suggests that quite a lot of our questions are eligible for that new feature (it says there were 142 hot questions at Workplace in about two months).
For readers who don't yet know how this works, I think it is important to know that removal from hot list is publicly recorded in question history (example) so that regular community members can easily review and discuss it if needed.
- One case that I am particularly curious about is questions having many close votes. Removing these from hot list would prevent quick (and often troublesome quality) answers from careless passers-by which in turn makes it easier to edit the question into better shape, because less answers mean lower risk of edits being blocked because of invalidating these answers.
Technically, something like that can be also achieved by protecting such questions but I am not quite comfortable with such an approach. We don't have a rule to protect any question with 3-4 close votes, nor do I think that we need such a rule. And making a habit of protecting only some of such questions only because of not particularly relevant network wide feature (of getting into HNQ) just doesn't feel right.
- Another case are questions with click-bait / dramatic looking titles and topics. From perspective of hot questions these tend to be troublesome, see eg this discussion at MSE and some trolling discussions at our meta, does it make sense to remove such questions from hot list?
One alternative that comes to mind is to edit such questions but if you think of it, it's not particularly appealing. Good edits that both make it read neutral and in the same time accurately preserve important meaning and details tend to take much time, sometimes even a day or two. While this is not much of a problem in regular questions, it looks much harder to make it quick enough to handle hot questions.
Another problem with "neutralising" title edits is, these make site harder to use. As a site regular, when the question is about toilet, or beating, or harassment, or someone drunk it is clearly more convenient for me to see it explicitly mentioned in the title. Do we have to give up this convenience and edit the titles only because these are considered entertaining by some outsider watching the sidebar at Stack Overflow when we can simply remove the question from HNQ.
For the sake of completeness, there is yet another recent feature helping to tame this issue: we can make site-specific list of "stop words" to block questions with titles containing these words from getting into hot list. We can and probably should use this feature if we know that particular words frequently are troublesome but this is hardly an universal solution because it just doesn't make sense to make an endless list of each and every word that can be perceived as troublesome by some random user staring at their sidebar at some random site in SE network.
Interested to learn what others think.