In case you didn't already know, Cream of the Cool is a front-page feature previewing threefour chosen C!ed writeups.

How Cream of the Cool Really Works

Have you ever puzzled over writeups showing up in Cream of the Cool over and over again, sometimes for weeks? The mystery's been gnawing at me for a while, so I did the research and here are the results:

The Details

  • The selected writeups are the 4 most recently created with at least one C! and reputation between 12 and 20, not inclusive (The cutoffs were originally between 7 and 14 according to arieh, later 15 and 20, later 16 and 26, and most recently 18 and 26).
  • There's no fancy algorithm for picking them it simply goes by reverse writeup id#. Since there's only a 4-vote window, it's quite possible for CotC to reach back several weeks from time to time.
  • 512 characters of the writeup are selected. Then the last whitespace and word (probably a fragment) is chopped off. If a hard link or pipe link is open then that is chopped off as well.


  • On April Fool's day 2002, the code was apparently changed to show the 3 oldest writeups with the requisite reputation. The code is still there, so they could do this to us again at any time. Beware.
  • CotC is dated June 22, 2000 and is credited to 'gods' which is infuriatingly vague.1
  • The first lines of code set values for minimum rep threshold, maximum rep threshold, number of writeups to show, and 'length'. Any of these can be changed, but apparently the length variable is unused.

Rumours tell us these things are subject to change. History tells us they probably won't.
Please /msg me if I'm wrong...

1 kthejoker adds: The reason it is credited to gods is specifically to avoid ownership of old files. Much less user-based hassle.

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