I've asked this question at Meta Programmers regarding the order that sites are listed in the StackExchange -> All sites menu on all the SE sites, and the answer confused me...

Press Stack Exchange at the top toolbar, press the All Sites tab in the dialog that opened and you can now see a list of all stack exchange sites. At the top of the list are all sites where you have a rep over 200, listed in decreasing order. I'd prefer the limit to be lower, like all sites where you have an account, but this isn't a problem really.

However, after that all the rest SE sites are listed in an unsorted random order.

To me, this makes no sense at all. Would it not be preferable to have some order to the items? Such as an alphabetical order? Now the list is only useful for switching between the top most sites.

I'm no user experience expert, so I thought I'd see if there's something I'm missing here.

So the question is; Are there any reasons for this implementation?

The only thing I can think of would be that not having a sorted list is quicker for the browser somehow, but that doesnt seem very likely.

  • 2
    As Jared Spool says "Alphabetized links are random links." uie.com/brainsparks/2006/02/06/…
    – Taj Moore
    Commented Dec 14, 2011 at 20:56
  • Sure, alphabetized links has its drawbacks aswell. But surely that, or anything, must be better than links which where the order is randomized everytime you go to the site!
    – Fredrik
    Commented Dec 15, 2011 at 14:55
  • With regards to the "I'm no user experience expert" - you don't need to be, if you feel something could improve your user experience, that is something worth looking at.
    – Anonymous
    Commented Dec 15, 2011 at 15:22

1 Answer 1


When you are trying to remove bias, intentionally randomizing order is useful. Based on listening to the SE podcasts and knowing the general ethos of SE is to let site evolution occur fairly and naturally, I would surmise that this is intentional so as to not favor traffic to sites that start with letters closer to 'A'.

It's not dissimilar to randomizing election ballot order: http://imai.princeton.edu/research/alphabet.html

If you did not have an egalitarian goal, and no other useful criteria to sort on, then by all means alphabetical is superior to nothing.

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